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Electric cars are forcing real estate to change gears

10/04/2017

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Analysts predict that within a few years, electric cars will cost about the same or less than their gas-powered cousins, and electric vehicle (EV) sales are expected to surge. Though range could still be an issue for some drivers, EVs do have one major advantage: you can charge them at home. No more side trips to the gas station, no more waiting in line, no more pumping gas in the rain, sleet, snow or gloom of night.

In fact, surveys show that most EV owners prefer to charge in the comfort of their own homes, where they can go about their lives while their vehicle quietly juices up.

To sweeten the pot, some states and utility companies offer tax incentives and rebates that apply to charging at home.

EV charging stations for existing homes

All of this is could be good news for homeowners seeking ways to enhance their property prior to sale. Costs for retrofitting a home with a charging station vary widely depending on the home, type of charger and electricians’ bills, but they are reasonable. They can easily dip below the $600 range, especially in areas with tax incentives and utility promotions.

When it comes to new construction, the equation is even simpler. The infrastructure for EV charging stations typically adds no more than a few hundred dollars to total costs, and with the growing popularity of EV’s, they may soon become a standard feature just like any large home appliance or fixture.

How EVs are influencing the new home market

The City of Fremont, California — home of Tesla — recently took steps to require new homes, apartment buildings and commercial properties to be wired for charging stations. The new ordinance also requires solar panels.

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The transition to EV mobility could also dovetail with Airbnb as hosts with existing homes look for ways to attract a growing number of guests with EVs.

Rental property owners are also beginning to view EV charging stations as key amenities that attract tenants without taking up too much space.

That trend is especially evident in the luxury market. The EV charging company SemaConnect offers this insight:

We are seeing that the Class A properties tend to be the early adopters. EV charging stations on these properties are considered an amenity, like access to a gym or concierge services. In many parts of the country, it is expected that EV charging stations will be on the premises, especially with any new construction projects.

EVs and sustainability

This trend is not just limited to EV-friendly California: developer Mast Capital launched an EV-ready residence in Florida last year, and apartment house leader LMC recently announced EV amenities at new residences in Washington State and Indiana.

In a press release last summer, LMC development associate Travis Nordgaard emphasized that prospective tenants who drive EVs expect to be accommodated. “We do everything we can to check every box on a prospective resident’s wish list,” he said.

Nordgaard also brought up a broader point about the emerging bond between EV ownership and residential properties. He said that the company’s partnership with leading EV charging station developer ChargePoint gives it the opportunity to “demonstrate green, sustainable values.” That kind of green branding will grow in importance as sustainability becomes a force in the mainstream real estate market.

EVs and the connected home

Toni George of Weichert Realtors has been selling properties in Summit, New Jersey and surrounding upscale communities for 25 years. In an exclusive interview with Inman, she described EV-readiness as part and parcel of a broader trend: “New construction accommodates today’s lifestyles and how we’ve changed, especially with two-income households. New construction checks off all the boxes, which includes being able to hook up an EV in a two- or three-car garage…”

George’s insights are partly informed by her husband Chris, whose company, Summit Custom Builders, wired its first home for EV charging as far back as 2006.

Gas-powered generators were once considered a luxury, and now they are a convenience. Similarly, EVs will eventually be like another appliance in that market. The demand for “smart home” and remote-control technology is already pushing EV-ready features into the market for new luxury homes. It’s only a matter of time before the EV trend emerges in the mass market, too.

Tina Casey has been writing about sustainability, alternative energy and energy efficiency since 2009. Her articles appear regularly in CleanTechnica.com, where she is a senior reporter, and TriplePundit.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Email Tina Casey.

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