After 347 long days on the market Westminster's 1st LEED Certified home has been purchased. In Orange County, green homes have struggled to gain any significant market share or be taken seriously by the County's major players in the building world. Other than Olson Homes of Seal Beach & it's rival offshoot, City Ventures, there has only been a handful of small speculative builders that have braved green building in resource devouring Orange County. Currently, there are less than 100 LEED Certified homes in Orange County with the majority of them being done by Olson Homes in tracts of around 30 units or one offs here and there by smaller builders.
Aside from Olson Homes' repeated success in Orange County with their LEED-ND infill projects at Depot Walk in Old Towne Orange, Heritage Walk in Fullerton, and still for sale Sycamore Walk and Mosaic Walk in Garden Grove, luxury home builder Tresor Properties has also been successful with it's 1st LEED Certified beachfront spec home in Laguna Beach that sold earlier this year for a cool $11,500,000 after just 7 days on the market.
So why did this Westminster home sit on the market for nearly a year before it sold? Did the design team have bad taste? Was it not promoted well enough? Was it because buyer's who want LEED Homes have no access to an efficient online search to even find them? Maybe it was due to the demographics of the city it was built in or simply the location? Is it because there is just flat out no desire for LEED homes?
Personally, I feel the greatest contributing factor was the economy. The few single family spec homes that have hit the market in the last 4 years have been faced with the most challenging market that anyone living has ever seen.
Ugly Design? Absolutely not! From sidewalk to master bedroom this home was well designed, has nice finish materials and fits the needs of nearly every home shopper searching in it's price range. At least aesthetically. There are no wacky paint colors, funky counter tops or strange lighting fixtures. The builder's taste was tasteful and just right for the targeted demographic.
Poor Promotion? I'm not sure how much love this 2 home development received from press, but I don't think it was able to reach as many green folks. However there have been similar green homes that have received hundreds of visitors and even a whole show that revolves around the construction of a luxury LEED Certified home in LA on the Discovery Channel's Alter Eco and those homes failed to find a legit buyer willing to pay a little extra for the green improvements. So it's possible that there the promotion and outreach may not have been as significant as it could be, but it's more evident that successful promotion has not worked for other green homes in Orange County.
Not Search Friendly Online? Would a home buyer who wants to buy a LEED home who's shopping in Laguna Beach decide to live in Westminster instead because there's a LEED Certified home? Most likely not. For the buyer who's shopping in Westminster, how many of them understand what it means to have a green home? If the answer is not many than getting a functional online search will not make sense until there is a more substantial supply of LEED Certified or green homes. I don't this effected finding a buyer, but it is effecting appraisal, data that supports green housing, etc.. [read more about greening the MLS here]
Bad Location? Yes, I do think this was a poor location to build a LEED Certified home or any higher value home for that matter. It's on a busy street, adjacent to a large concrete river and is surrounded by homes that are of less value. Culturally, Westminster does not lend itself to green building the way a coastal city like San Clemente, Huntington Beach or even Costa Mesa might. Location and culture are huge factors for the 1st round of green homes.
No Love for LEED? Brand recognition for the USGBC's LEED Certification has steadily grown due to it's wide spread expectance in all building sectors like retail, commercial, municipal and especially schools. Companies have policies that all of their buildings must be LEED Certified, the State and Federal Government has also made a commitment to do all of their new buildings LEED. I think there is an added incentive for LEED as it stands for quality and a safer investment than a standard home as we move into an error where energy is significantly more expensive.Why do you think this home stayed on the market for almost a year?