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The buzz in residential real estate is all about sustainability, and the good news is there are a plethora of ways to improve the efficiency and durability of a home.

Goals change; countertops fabricated from imported granite and showers lined with sprays that endlessly shoot water from head to toe are no longer at the top of all homeowners’ wish lists. Sustainable features are the latest trend to attract buyers. Houses marketed with low-flow toilets and showerheads, multipane windows, electric charging stations, and kitchen countertops made from locally quarried stone are what makes today’s home shoppers swoon.

According to the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Sustainability Resource Guide, 61% of surveyed members said their clients are interested in sustainability and want more of these features in their homes—and it’s not just millennials requesting them. Almost every age group wants to save money, pare energy and water consumption, and remove toxins from the air they breathe. “Reducing utility bills is often the driver, but many also want to do the right thing,” says architect Tony Schmitz, sustainability director at Hoefer Wysocki, based in Leawood, Kan.

The good news is there are innumerable steps that homeowners can take, and the cost to act sustainably may be modest, adding an extra 5% to 10% to the purchase price, says Prentis Hale, principal at SHED Architecture + Design in Seattle, which has long practiced sustainability. One important caveat to remind clients is that a return on investment may not be immediate, and it hinges on both the cost to buy and install a product or system and the area’s climate.

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