Whew! Although our weather has decided to cool off a bit in the last week, I have been thinking about our homes in Seattle and how many of them are ill-equipped to deal with the heat we have had over the last few months.
Back in the days before air-conditioning and subdivisions, homes were constructed to take advantage of the natural breezes and cooling physics which included wide eaves on south-facing windows and large trees to filter the sunlight onto sun-porches. Fast forward to the turn of the century up and upwards to the 1950s. The urban and suburban landscape with smaller lots and few natural cooling innovations meant that the single family bungalow turned into a stuffy hotbox during the long arduous summer months.
In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, a 2013 survey from the American Housing Survey indicated that only 15.9% of occupied units in the Seattle-Tacoma Metro area had central air-conditioning.
As a real estate professional, I encourage any buyers I work with to think about all the seasons when buying a home. From that home with the steep driveway that can become an ice rink during the winter to the home with the master that faces due east taking advantage of the sunrise – whether that is at 4:00 in the morning or 8:00, it is critical to look at your potential home with an eye for considering what may come when the calendar turns a page.
As I write this, it looks like it is going to creep back up into the high 80’s by Thursday. If you are thinking of taking the air conditioning plunge, take note! According to The Nest.com, central air conditioning may increase the changes of selling a home faster in hot weather depending on the season and whether air conditioning is valued in your particular area. In Seattle in summers past, people adhere to the adage, “Well, you only need it a few days per year.” This year (and perhaps next according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration), I predict that central air will be valued higher. But if you are selling in the winter or during a cooler summer, it may not be valued as highly.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, central air can add about 12% to the value of the home. Of course, cost to install must be taken into consideration. Ductless air conditioners are also rising in popularity and they are a bit cheaper to install than a full central unit, especially if you live in an older home which would require a lot of retrofitting.
If you are going to be selling your home, it is also important to take that eye and turn it inward when determining market value for your home. If your home doesn’t have air-conditioning, but the home for sale down the street does, that needs to be taken into consideration.