All week long, we’ve talked about the devastating California drought – both how it was caused and how the real estate market can not only survive, but also thrive. Despite the not-so-terrible economic news, there is no question that the status quo can’t last. The state has spent years with its proverbial hands over its eyes about the coming danger, but we can no longer afford denial. The real estate industry, and particularly those investors who are rehabbing houses to fix and flip, can lead the way in personal responsibility.

The Need for Personal Water Responsibility in Housing

The drought is a combination of a changing climate, growing populations, and historic water mismanagement. The goal now is to recognize what went wrong and what we can do to make things better moving forward. There’s no other way, as we certainly aren’t going to pack everyone up to move out of California. We also know that there are no easy solutions. There’s no way to snap our fingers and get it done.

A huge part is going to be the creation of policy on the municipal, state, and federal levels. But just because you can’t make it go away personally doesn’t mean there’s nothing the real estate industry can do. As rehabbers and fix-and-flippers, you can create homes that emphasize sustainable renovations and water conversation. You can do some good for the state – and for yourself. Homeowners will want to buy houses that meet future regulations and satisfy their desire to live a more sustainable life. Here are a couple of tips for easy renovations that conserve water and provide a good return on investment.

Tips for Water Conservation Rehabs

Low-flow is the way to go

A lot of people might be surprised to hear this, but Las Vegas has recently led the way in water conservation. One way it has done this is by incentivizing hotels to install low-flow showers, toilets, and faucets. The enormous demand generated by Las Vegas has also led companies to solve the biggest complaints about low-flow products: that showers are unsatisfying and toilets don’t work.

This is great news for fix-and-flippers. Low-flow showers can save hundreds of gallons of water a day, and the reduction in hot water use leads to energy savings, as well. These functions, especially given that engineers have figured out ways to make them more comfortable, will make your house far more valuable on the market. It stands to reason that all houses will need to have these installed at some point, so getting ahead of the game makes your project much more desirable.

Tearing up the lawn

People love lawns, even though they are difficult to maintain, especially in climates that don’t have them naturally. However, attitudes about them are changing. People see them as the water pits they often are and are finding beauty in other elements of landscape design, such as gravel or stone, with drought-resistant plants in small areas surrounded by walkways. Native plants that require less maintenance lend a beauty, grace, and variety that water-intensive grass lawns don’t possess and the  financial incentives provided by cities like Los Angeles don’t hurt, either. Native landscaping that can resist drought and survive with less maintenance will increase curb value and save potential buyers the trouble of having to put in their own landscaping.

Downspout extensions and underground cisterns

Here’s a subtle but important thing you can do, whether you still have a full lawn or just some flowers that require occasional watering. Depending on where in California you are, your amount of rain varies, but no matter how much you get, there is no need to waste it. Changing gutters on the house and installing downspout extensions that lead to areas in need of water are a great way to take advantage of nature. Rainwater can be funneled from the roof to areas that need watering.

Some people find that unsightly, of course, or they may find that rainy days don’t closely align with their watering schedule. For those people, funneling the water into an underground cistern or rain vat where you can save it for later is a smart move. When fixing up a home, both of these options show prospective buyers that they can have a beautiful yard while still conserving water.

Getting a house back on the market is a big deal and getting a hard money loan to fix and flip it entails important choices. We know that our state is entering a prolonged drought that can change nearly everything. It also provides a huge opportunity for real estate investors and rehabbers to lead the way. They can promote water conservation and sustainability while making their homes more attractive to responsible, forward-thinking buyers. The drought has no easy answers, but we know everything we can do can help.

Your real estate assets are your best investments for the future. At Socotra Capital, we’re proud to be the premier direct hard money lender for California real estate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.