So, the bad news is that your home heating system has just failed and now you need to choose a replacement. The good news is that you have many heating options to choose from! You love the idea of the high efficiency appliances and want to choose the most efficient model you can. The heat pump add-on with the idea of finally getting A/C in the house is your dream scenario– not to mention that you can to control it all with your phone! Sounds great, right?
The wrinkle is that you’re only going to be in the house another 4 -6 years, and you’re not sure your gas bill will be reduced enough for the upgrades to pay for themselves in that time. What should you do? Do you really need all these options? Where is the right place to save money? And most importantly, if you’re selling, where will your dollars provide the best return on investment?
I decided to ask a professional and interviewed Lance Phillips, top North Shore realtor, for his experience after 33 years in the business. When clients are looking at buying houses, what do they expect to see? When selling, what will make their house the most desirable?
R&B: In terms of heating options, is it necessary to spend the extra money on the heat pump to get air conditioning in Vancouver?
LP: It can be, but it is very site specific, and area specific. For a house in Grouse Woods, surrounded by trees, or backing into the forest where there isn’t a lot of heat growth within the house, you can get away without. The opposite side of the spectrum would be a glass house with southern exposure. There you will get a significant accumulation of heat from sunny days and in that instance, a heat pump providing cooling is a must.
That same expectation will also be present for buyers of higher end homes. Anything in the $4M and up range, a climate control system would be expected for heating as well as cooling. And location might not come into play as much.
R&B: What do home inspectors advise in regard to age and efficiency of appliances, or do they say anything beyond whether or not they work?
LP: For homes with furnaces mid-efficient and down and inspectors always talk about replacement (and servicing), so buyers talk around that too. However, when it comes to a furnace that is 96% efficient vs. one that is 98% efficient, the cost difference at installation won’t be recovered at the time of sale. The buyer and inspector will focus more on the service records than the minor differences in efficiency.
R&B: What about special thermostats with Wifi Control? Is it necessary spend the extra $200 – $400 on that?
LP: Yes. For the price point, they seem to be very desirable. I would consider them to be a ‘must’.
As we control more of our lives from our phone, it is becoming more expected that we can have the home automation model built into our homes. This is another extremely visible and notable benefit that gives the impression of luxury to buyers at an achievable price.
The bottom line? If you’re not staying, save your money on the extra efficiency and spend it on the wifi controller. If you live in a home with a lot of sun exposure, get the heat pump too. Between now and the time you actually do put your house on the market, you will thoroughly enjoy them as well.