Listings in California are ten times more likely to feature drought-resistant features than listings in other U.S. states, according to Zillow.

The share of California listings publicizing features that use less water jumped in 2015, three years into the state’s historic drought. These terms included:

  • “drought-resistant”;
  • “drought-tolerant”;
  • “drip irrigation”; and
  • “low-flow”.

As the drought officially ended in 2017, the share of drought-resistant listings has declined somewhat. But these features continue to be seen in most markets.

Coastal regions have the most listings including drought-resistant features, with Ventura County topping the list, followed by Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

But even in places where sellers are most likely brag about water-saving features, only about 2%-3% of all sellers and their agents include these features on their listing. While this is significantly higher than the 0.1% of all U.S. listings that include such features, for a state as prone to water issues as California is, 2%-3% is surprisingly low.

Seller tactics for drought savings

If water isn’t on your clients’ radars, it should be.

True, the state is officially out of the drought in 2018. But California is one of the driest states in the nation. We regularly experience water shortages here, with droughts occurring every decade or so and lasting for years.

There are two ways sellers can prepare for this:

  1. Prepare their home to appeal to buyers in a drought.
  2. Market their homes effectively by providing information on water-use and cost.

The first step can be completed shortly before listing — or, better yet, over several months or years. For example, when it’s time to replace an old washing machine, choosing an EnergyStar machine will help homeowners use 45% less water per wash than their old washing machine. This translates to 3,000 gallons of water saved each year.

Other ways homeowners can make their home more water-efficient and appealing to buyers in a drought include:

  • installing low-flow or dual-flush toilets;
  • installing low-flow shower heads;
  • installing aerators in sinks;
  • replacing old water heaters and dishwashers with EnergyStar appliances;
  • planting native or drought-resistant plants that require less water;
  • installing a drip irrigation system; and
  • removing water-wasters like pools and over-sized lawns.

Finally, when it comes time to list, sellers need to let homebuyers know about all of the water-saving potential of their home.

In addition to the property expense profile, which lists all of the seller’s monthly and annual expenses, seller’s agents can prepare a water advisory profile. [See RPI Form 306]

This water advisory profile can list the seller’s average water use, as well as the monthly cost. It can also list the steps the seller has taken to ensure a water-efficient home. This will make the seller’s home stand out from the competition, highlighting features that aren’t readily apparent but add value all the same.

Related article:

Real estate disaster scenario Part I: Drought