How much is a green rating worth in Southern California’s Orange County? On average, homes in the county, particularly in its more prosperous neighborhoods, recently have been listing well north of $700,000, according to real estate search engine Trulia. But for prospective buyers looking in the above-average price category, and even at luxury homes, adding green credentials to the list of extras isn’t guaranteed to work marketing magic.
That’s the impression left by the sales history of the first single-family home in Orange County to land LEED for Homes Platinum certification: a 4,900-sq.-ft. modern Craftsman with six bedrooms, six and a half baths, a 1,000-sq.-ft. kitchen, and golf course view. A real estate development investor, Steve Blanchard, bought the home that originally occupied the 0.32-acre lot for $1.7 million three years ago. By December 2008, deconstruction of the old house and recycling of usable materials were complete (the original garage was retained) and foundation work had begun. Construction progressed throughout last year and the house was awarded Platinum certification on January 28, 2010.
In March, Blanchard told the Daily Pilot that he originally considered moving his family into the house, but then decided to put it on the market.
The right buyer might not necessarily be green-minded
It seems likely the original asking price, $2,990,000 (about $600 per sq. ft.), gave buyers pause all by itself, especially given the down real estate market. According to a brief recently published in the Orange County Register, the listing, after five price drops, fell to $2,199,009 and the house now has a buyer, although the final sales price has yet to be disclosed.
An interesting point, cited by the listing broker, Liz Noriega, is that the buyers weren’t really looking for a green home at first – just a big one. “When they understood all the green factors, they realized how much they’d be saving in the long term,” Noriega told the Register. “They’re just getting into being environmentally conscious, and they realized this is a good thing.”
Among the building’s performance-oriented features: R-38 ceiling insulation; blown-in cellulose, to R-21, in exterior walls; insulation installed behind tubs and fireplaces before installation; insulation in double walls supported with blocking shelves every 24 in.; attic access doors, attic stairs, and whole-house-fan openings insulated to R-22; tube skylight ducts wrapped with R-8 duct insulation; a 3.6 kW solar power system; and east-west axis orientation to maximize solar gain in the winter, when the average low temperature is in the high 30s and the average high is in the mid-60s. Average highs from June through October are in the 80s.
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