17 January 2016, 00:00
So you’re a real estate agent and you just received a call from a homeowner who wants to sell their home. Yippee! Every real estate agent loves those phone calls, right?
You arrive at the home to take a look and to get interviewed by the homeowner, but something is different. You had prepared a comparative market analysis and brought along all your marketing materials and ideas, but this interview is unlike any other you’ve ever had.
Instead of the typical questions of “How well do you know the neighborhood?” or “In what newspapers and media will you market my home?” you receive a different line of questioning. “How familiar are you with eco homes and products?” Suddenly you realize real estate is becoming a whole new world and sellers are speaking a whole new kind of language. “My home is ICF construction and has PV solar panels. My home also has two green home certifications. Can you help educate buyers about the certifications and its features? Will you be able to market my property accurately and bring me the best offer for my premium listing?”
If you haven’t already received training or education about green or sustainable homes, then I think you can pretty much guess that this listing is now lost to another agent who is better qualified. And if you think that green homes are a rarity and that this type of conversation won’t happen any time soon, then you need to pay attention to the numbers.
Green Homes: The Numbers Don’t Lie
According to the assessment by the Union of Concerned Scientists
nearly 400,000 households in 2013 had rooftop solar panels and that number will grow to 900,000 by 2020. Built Green
helps to confirm that figure by estimating that “30% of new homes sold are green.”
If you add to those figures the number of homes that have eco and healthy products throughout; like recycled materials, green label flooring, finishes with zero off-gassing, energy efficient appliances, water saving fixtures, high efficiency heating and cooling, water saving landscaping, homes built with recycled or natural materials as well as the newest technology for energy efficiency and alternative energies, you are talking about millions of homes across the country that would be considered by many as “green” or “sustainable.” Marketing these features properly and by a real estate agent who is qualified, can make a big difference in the listing’s outcome.
Understanding green products and building techniques is just one part of understanding a green listing. A growing number of homes are being certified as “sustainable properties” through a local or national green certification program. In January 2014, “The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the 50,000th LEED-certified green housing unit.”
Each certification has a different focus for evaluating a green home. Some focus on energy efficiency, specifically. Other certifications focus on the “cradle to grave” sustainability of the home; where the products were sourced and how much waste was produced during construction, for example. A real estate agent should understand the importance and differences of these certifications and the value that they bring to the listing.
The Value of a Green Home
If you’re still are dragging your heels about incorporating green homes into your real estate practice, then let me speak to you in a way that may make you sprint towards the green homes market. “New research by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds strong evidence that homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems sell for a premium over homes without solar systems…This corresponds to an average home sales price premium of approximately $17,000 for a relatively new 3,100 watt PV system…” That’s right! That green home listing that you lost because you weren’t qualified to list it, very likely would’ve sold for premium price over a similar home that was not sustainably built or with green features.
Real estate is changing and there are many options for agents to learn and gain credentials as knowledgeable agents in the homes’ market. Don’t think that a phone call for selling a green listing or to work with buyer clients wanting a sustainable home won’t come your way sometime soon, because it will. So be ready.
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