The REsource Newsletter

May 2018

In This Issue


NAR Survey: Sustainability's Influence Grows
Knowledge Refresh: HERS® Rating
Trees Deliver Beauty, Boost Real Estate Prices
EverGreen Award Nominations Now Open: Leading Green Lights 
Tips: Pick The Right Tree

 

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NAR Survey: Sustainability's Influence Grows 

The annual REALTORS® and Sustainability 2018 Report has been released by NAR’s Sustainability Program and the GRC is pretty upbeat about the findings. 
 
The survey went out to over 100,000 NAR members and it received a robust response from both residential and commercial practitioners. The results paint a national picture of sustainability’s growing influence in real estate markets and with consumers. 

 
“There’s data from all different geographic areas and market types, including urban, suburban, and rural,” says Amanda Stinton, Director, Sustainability & Green Designation. “The report shows that there’s sustainability in every market.” 
 
In addition, commercial practitioners were included for the first time in this year’s survey. 
 
Value of your green knowledge
The report further solidifies the value of your unique green education. 
 
There was a bit of growth in the perception of consumer interest in sustainability – 62 percent. Yet, only 39 percent of REALTORS® are comfortable answering questions about home performance. 
 
That you’re able to field consumers’ questions about home performance – as well as about other green topics -- can only enhance your business. 
 
Here are some highlights from the study. 
 
Leveraging the MLS
Forty percent of respondents said their MLS had green data fields. Among those who do have MLS green data fields, 37 percent of respondents used them to promote green features, 27 percent to promote energy information, and 16 percent to promote green certification.
 
“The new NAR policy is requiring MLSs to adopt RESO data dictionary language. The Silver level of CMLS certification includes green fields from the data dictionary, helping users to speak the same language about green home features around the country. This will also bring the number of users with potential to access to green MLS fields to over 900,000,” observes Stinton. “So there’s been huge growth in the possibility of implementation of green fields, but only 40 percent are aware of green fields in their market. REALTORS can check with their MLSs to ‘activate’ green data dictionary fields if the MLS is already operating at Silver Certification. There are tools out there like the Home Energy Information Guide to help this conversation along.
 
She sees an opportunity for NAR to educate a broader share of members on the benefits of green fields and how to use them. 
 
And for you, it means that by already understanding green fields and using them properly, you’re giving your listings and your clients an edge. That know-how is yet another way for you to distinguish your skills and your business in your market. 
 
Home features, value of promoting energy efficiency
Both residential (71 percent) and commercial practitioners (70 percent) from the NAR survey said that energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable.
 
Discussing the features that REALTORS®   see as most important to clients is another area where you really can shine. 
 
After all, you know the value of those features most prized by homeowners. Those include comfortable living space (69 percent), proximity to frequently visited places (40 percent), windows, doors, and siding (40 percent), and a home’s utility bills and operation costs (28 percent).  
 
Solar panels
The bulk of agents and brokers (80 percent) said that properties with solar panels were available in their market, and 39 percent said they believed panels increase the perceived property value. 
 
Tip: If you want to tap the solar market in your area and better understand the technology, consider taking Elevate Energy’s class, “Selling the Sun: Establishing Value for Solar Homes.” It was developed specifically for real estate practitioners. 
 
Commercial highlights
Among the highlights concerning the commercial sector:
 
Twelve percent of respondents said that their Commercial Information Exchange (CIE) had green data fields and that the CIE green files were used to promote energy information and green features and certifications.
 
The bulk of agents and brokers (70 percent) said that promoting energy efficiency in listings was very or somewhat valuable.
 
A majority (56 percent) of respondents were comfortable or extremely comfortable answering clients’ building performance questions. 
 
Building features very important to clients include utility/operations costs (40 percent), indoor air quality (28 percent), efficient use of lighting (20 percent), and smart and connected buildings (18 percent). 
 
“REALTORS® who have the knowledge and background in building performance technology and sustainability topics and who are comfortable talking about them are ahead of the curve,” says Stinton. “And that helps them provide a different level of consumer value and improved experience over other REALTORS® in their market.”

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“Most people think that trees are just pretty, but they're also very hard workers."  

 

            --Larry Wiseman, co-lead of Vibrant Cities Lab

Knowledge Refresh: HERS® Ratings 

 
Sophisticated clients who know the ins and outs of energy efficiency or want to better understand high-performance homes will be looking to you for information. Less knowledgeable clients will  appreciate the information you can share about the expected operation of a home.
 
Refreshing your knowledge about the HERS® rating will help you shine when you’re talking about how homes are rated, what the numbers mean, and why HERS® ratings are valuable. 
Here are six concepts from your NAR Green Day 1 course that are worth revisiting. 
 
1. What’s a HERS® Index Score? It’s something of a miles-per-gallon rating for homes and measures a property’s efficiency. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS), developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), is a nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home's energy performance.  
 
2. What the numbers mean. The lower the score the better performer a house is. 
According to RESNET, the U.S. Department of Energy has determined that a typical resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index while a standard new home is awarded a rating of 100.
 
 • A home with a HERS Index Score of 70 is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home
 • A home with a HERS Index Score of 130 is 30% less energy efficient than a standard new home
 
3. How homes are scored. When you’re talking with clients, explain how homes are tested and rated. A rater looks for the amount of air leaks, leakage from HVAC ducts, insulation’s effectiveness, and potential combustion safety issues.
 
Diagnostic testing can include blower-door tests, duct-leakage tests, combustion analysis, and infrared imaging. 
 
Tip: Find a RESNET home energy pro here.
 
4. Appraisal challenges. Properly valuing green homes continues to be challenging for appraisers, and missing or incomplete information makes it difficult for them to assign the proper value to high-performance homes. 
 
Familiarize yourself with MLS green fields and know exactly how to properly represent your listing’s HERS® rating. Attaching the complete HERS® report to the MLS data field provides transparency for prospective buyers and appraisers. Plus, documentation can help appraisers assign value to a property with a score, if appropriate.
 
Tip: Use RESNET’s searchable database (http://www.resnet.us/public-access-to-resnet-national-registry) to find HERS®-rated homes and verify a property’s rating. The database includes homes that were assigned a rating after July 2012. 
 
5. Financing efficient homes. If clients are looking for an Energy-Efficient Mortgage (EEM) or an Energy-Improvement Mortgage (EIM), qualifying for such loans usually requires an energy audit and a HERS® rating.
 
6. Explaining value of HERS® to clients. When you’re discussing the benefits of a HERS® rating or any other high-performance systems and features, steer clear of jargon that the average consumer doesn’t understand. 
 
Instead, focus on how a home with a good HERS® rating is well built and provides year-round comfort and lower utility bills. 
 
This and other scores provide additional data and documentation about the total cost of ownership and can help you help your clients make a decision in their next home search.

 

 
 
 

Trees Deliver Beauty, Boost Real Estate Prices

You already know that trees bring aesthetic, economic, and environmental benefits.
Look to the Vibrant Cities Lab’s Urban Forestry Toolkit to find ways to make convincing arguments about the advantages of trees, bring more of them to your area, and motivate your local government to invest in and care for them.  

The U.S. Forest Service, American Forests, and the National Association of Regional Councils joined forces to create Vibrant Cities Lab. Among the goals are helping everyone -- municipal leaders, policymakers, and citizens -- understand the importance of building strong urban forestry programs.

Urban forestry best practices
The toolkit provides a six-step strategy for incorporating best practices in urban forestry and it quantifies trees’ worth. 

It also features more than 500 resources – statistics, case studies, articles, and research – designed to help both tree professionals and average citizens build, improve, and maintain a community’s tree canopy. 

Though some tree monitoring activities, research, and care are best left to professionals, there’s a vast amount that average citizens and organizations -- real estate professionals and associations, for example – can do to promote and protect trees. 

The payoff 
“This movement to support urban forestry as a form of municipal infrastructure is growing rapidly,” says Larry Wiseman, co-lead of Vibrant Cities. “There’s been an explosion of research and a flood of communities that have embraced the notion that the urban forest canopy can bring significant benefits to communities.”

Those include an array of human health and environmental advantages, like improved air quality, better storm water management, and lower asthma rates.  

Given that trees bring benefits that dovetail with so many of the concepts you’re already passionate about, you’re a natural to champion trees in your town. “Community improvement is in the DNA of REALTORS®,” comments Wiseman. “They have a vested and philosophical interest in it.”
Trees also bring economic rewards in the form of higher home sales prices, more robust commercial rents, and brisker retail foot traffic and sales. 

“Most people think that trees are just pretty,” says Wiseman. “But they’re also very hard workers.” 

7 Ways to Make the Case for Trees 
1. Join an urban forestry group. Join an existing urban forestry group. 
The toolkit shows you how to find like-minded people and build a powerful urban forestry coalition. It also provides step-by-step actions to make trees a part of your city’s infrastructure.  

2. Raise awareness. Discuss trees during sales meetings, green committee meetings, and during community events and public get-togethers. Write about trees and their importance in your blogs and newsletters and on your social media platforms. 

“One of the most important things REALTORS® can do is align municipal departments around common goals,” says Wiseman. “The message they can carry is that investing a few dollars in urban trees will save all of us many more dollars over time. And it will improve the perceived value of the community, thereby increasing the tax base.”

3. Engage with stakeholders. Talk with business owners and retailers about how trees can enhance the retail corridor. Learn how various stakeholders – universities, hospitals, conservation groups, and others – all gain from a strong urban forestry program.

4. Talk trees. Make trees a part of your discussion when you’re looking at homes with clients. Discuss their aesthetics and how trees make a house more comfortable and how they can reduce energy costs. 

5. Illustrate the impact of trees. If your clients are interested in adding trees, help them make the most of their commitment. i-Tree Design allows you to virtually plant a tree on a given property and it calculates the environmental and financial benefits that the tree will provide. 

6. Give the gift of a tree. Instead of giving throwaway tchotchkes as closing gifts, offer clients a sapling to plant or pay for a visit with an arborist. And if you’re in a fire-prone area, provide a consultation with a firescaping expert who can help homeowners choose the best trees to protect their properties during wildfires. 

7. Tap Placemaking grants. If you’re working with your state or local board in applying for a NAR Placemaking grant, consider the role that new tress could play in your plan. 
 
 

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Green Award Nominations Now Open: Leading Green Lights ​

2018 is the GREEN Designation’s 10th anniversary. 

When we started the EverGreen Awards, the Green REsource Council was a young organization and the honorees were early adopters of sustainability. 

Green luminaries
The GRC and past EverGreen winners have grown up together during the last decade. 

Many winners now have gone on to build national reputations for their green expertise and have become leading lights in the industry. 

You could join the ranks by submitting your own nomination form from now until 06/30/18.

Bob Hart is the Association Executive at the Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS. 

Craig Foley is cementing his reputation as net-zero guru in Massachusetts. 

Craig Della Penna is among the nation’s go-to authorities on rails-to-trails conversions. 

And Laura Stukel has devoted herself to greening the MLS and has spent years helping NAR and the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS). , which recently launched the new CMLS Quick Start: Guide to Green MLS Fields to make it simpler for MLSs to identify and implement green fields. 

In addition, several EverGreen winners were invited to sit on the National Association of
REALTORS®’ new Sustainability Advisory Group, and they’ll help to lead the association’s sustainability efforts. 

The next achievers 
So why not join this elite group? Nominate yourself or a colleague. 

We’re looking for GRC members who are committed to advancing the green building industry, developing their green skills and education, and sharing their knowledge in ways that improve their communities. No accomplishment or contribution is too small. If there’s anything that has been cemented in the green market segment, it’s that all input is crucial to the advancement of green buildings and communities and relationships matter. 

We’re excited to hear from you!

Complete details here!  
Nomination deadline: June 30, 2018.
Questions? Contact the Green REsource Council by e-mail or call 1-800-498-9422.
 

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This Month's Tips: Pick the Right Tree

Here are some things to consider when you’re choosing trees for your yard.   

1. Size matters. You don’t want a tree that will bump into your house or power lines or totally cover your property when it reaches maturity. Learn about tree sizing here.

2. Regional appropriateness. Plug in some data about your region and the tree characteristics you like, and the Tree Wizard will generate tree recommendations based on your location. 

3. Economic impact. Trees have both an environmental and economic impact. Calculate their value here! 

 

 

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Consumers Are Interested in Sustainability

NAR’s 2018 report about sustainability is out and it shows that 61% of respondents say consumers are either somewhat or very interested in sustainability.  

A majority of agents and brokers (71 percent) said that energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable.

2018 REALTORS® and Sustainability Report-Residential

 

All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau unless otherwise noted

 

 

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