While the home buying process is not inherently wasteful in excess, it can still be made more sustainable, just like almost any other thing in this world. Doing paperwork, traveling to and fro the property, choosing the right home, and other steps involved in the home buying process have a corresponding impact on the environment. And if you want to reduce your carbon footprint in every way you can, applying sustainability principles when you’re buying a home is a great way to do so.
Whether you are a home buyer or a real estate professional, here are some of the best ways to make the process of acquiring a home as environmentally friendly as possible:
1. Go with online applications first
In this digital age, almost everything can be done online, including applying for a mortgage. So, when you are looking for a mortgage broker as a first-time homebuyer, prioritize the brokers or lenders that offer high-quality online services that will allow you to do much, if not all, of the entire process digitally.
In terms of convenience, going for a lender that can deliver quality services entirely online can give you unparalleled ease. No need to travel to their office to submit applications, and no need to waste paper on documents that can be submitted digitally in the first place. Hence, not only do you help reduce paper waste, but you’re also keeping your gas emissions to a minimum since you won’t have to travel multiple times to the office.
2. Tour virtually
Touring a prospective home is one of the most critical steps in the homebuying process, but it’s also one of the most environmentally impactful due to the fact that you’re going to have to travel to the site. If you’re a good distance away, then you will also have to take a flight, which is the mode of travel that contributes the most carbon emissions.
Fortunately, virtual tours have become commonplace in the real estate world, and almost all sellers are jumping in on the trend. With a virtual tour (either live or pre-made), you can get a good feel of the house without leaving your own home and easily eliminate houses on your list without wasting an unnecessary amount of time and fuel. You can even ask your real estate agent to give you a live virtual tour wherein they take you through the house using a video conferencing program, and this is especially useful if you want to see more of a house beyond the pre-made virtual tour that came with the listing.
Of course, not everyone is comfortable relying on a virtual tour when buying a house, although some people buy homes without seeing them in person first. That said, leverage virtual tours when eliminating your choices. Then, when you find the most suitable home, schedule an in-person visit to see if the house lives up to your expectations from what you’ve seen online.
3. Limit printed paperwork
Buying a home involves a lot of paperwork, and as a result, produces a ton of paper waste. Some documents need to be printed out for verification purposes and whatnot, but there are other types of paperwork that are valid as digital copies.
If you are a home buyer, ask your mortgage lender or real estate agent which documents you can submit online and which ones you have to have in physical copies. If you are a real estate professional, on the other hand, take the initiative to require only physical copies of documents that cannot be submitted digitally.
4. Choose a sustainable home
Lastly, the best way to make the home buying process sustainable is to ultimately buy a sustainable home. People have a lot of different interpretations for what a sustainable home is, but in general, a sustainable home is one that has:
- Sustainable materials such as recycled, reclaimed, or repurposed building materials (wood, flooring, sheet metal, hardware, etc.)
- Energy-efficient appliances that don’t consume more energy than they need to, including the dishwasher, microwave, washing machine, dryer, etc.
- An efficient HVAC system. A home’s HVAC system consumes a big chunk of energy each month. Thus, a sustainable home must have an efficient HVAC system to keep energy consumption, utility bills, and carbon emissions at a minimum. Moreover, an efficient and well-functioning system will also help reduce waste due to repairs and breakdowns.
Leading a sustainable life means applying eco-friendly techniques in as many aspects of your life as possible. By following the tips mentioned above, you can make the home buying process–which is generally tedious in the first place–less impactful on the environment and more convenient overall.