The REsource Newsletter

January 2019

In This Issue


From the Director: A Year for Persistence, Creativity, Collaboration
Cultivating a Green Business Environment
Knowledge Refresh: Green Upgrades and Staging
2019: Build Skills, Opportunities, Relationships 
Tips: Make Energy Improvements Once. Save Forever

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Newsletter Archive

Previous Issues


From the Director: A Year of Persistence, Creativity, Collaboration


 


Before 2019 opened, we looked ahead to get a read on industry changes, your needs, and how the Green REsource Council can remain most relevant to you. 

A survey of GRC members in late 2018 helped us to better understand what you value and the ways we can work together to strengthen this industry.

Here’s some of what you can anticipate. 

We’re putting the final touches on a new website that keeps you in mind. When it launches during the first quarter, you’ll find more intuitive navigation, an expanded member benefits center, and an online home that’s fresh and attractive. 

To keep you up to date on this ever-changing industry’s research, technologies, and policy updates, we’ve refreshed the Green Designation Program. The new education content will roll out online in June and will be available to you at a discount. 

We know that the more consumers know about green housing, the better it is for your business. 
We’ll be working closely with NAR’s Sustainability Advisory Group to do more outreach and advertising on consumer-facing channels so that who you are and what you do get greater attention. 

Survey findings show some compelling reasons to incorporate green into your day-to-day business. 

For instance, more than half of GREEN Designees reported being engaged with green real estate at some level. 

Take a few minutes to review all the marketing and educational opportunities – including discounted access to HomeSelfeRE, and the newsletter -- that the GRC provides and see how you can make the most of your membership dollars. 

There’s good reason to do so. 

A new survey question showed that many are bringing in significant income from their green transactions. 

For example, 4 percent made $50,000 to $74,999, 2 percent made between $100,000 and $149,999, and one percent made $150,000 to $199,999 through green transactions. Another one percent of members made $250,000 or more. 

One characteristic of those top earners has been a commitment to capitalizing on this market and making it a routine part of their business. 

We’ll continue doing our part to help you build your name recognition and income by providing education, networking, and marketing opportunities. 

For example, we’ve launched a new featured article that profiles members who are successfully layering green into their businesses and capitalizing on their knowledge. The stories will feature concrete steps that you can take to marry your business with green. Don’t miss this month’s first profile, “Cultivating a Green Business Environment,” that features Christopher Matos-Rogers. 

And one more note. After more than 10 years with the GRC, I’m moving to a new position at NAR. Though I’ll still be closely involved with the green world through NAR’s Sustainability Advisory Group and by serving on the GRC’s Advisory Board, I’m handing off GRC’s day-to-day management to Carol Kairis. 

Carol, Director of Designations and Certifications, has most recently overseen training for the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS), and At Home With Diversity (AHWD) and has a keen experience with a focus on market segment.

She’s also served as Managing Director of the REALTORS® Commercial Alliance Member Development and for the Seniors Real Estate Council, Appraisal, Auction and Resort and Second Home Property Specialist. 

Before coming to NAR, she was vice president of Professional Development and International Operations for the REALTORS® Association of the Palm Beaches.

I know that Carol’s deep knowledge of the real estate industry and her unique skill set will continue to advance the GRC’s mission.  

I’m also confident that with your continued persistence, creativity, and collaboration, 2019 will be a tremendous year for you and for our industry. 

 
 

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“If you try to hog the market and ‘own’ it, you’ll stifle growth.” 
--Christopher Matos-Rogers, Common Ground Real Estate Team PalmerHouse Properties  

Cultivating a Green Business Environment

Many contemplate how to incorporate their new knowledge into their businesses when they first get NAR’s Green Designation. 
 
Christopher Matos-Rogers is no exception.
 
He’s new to the business, having gotten his real estate license in 2015 and his Green Designation in 2018. 
 
But he started capitalizing on his designation immediately. 
 
Last year, Matos-Rogers, a practitioner with Common Ground Real Estate Team
PalmerHouse Properties, became one of 47 who took the first green course offered through the Atlanta REALTORS® Association. 
 
It provided an instant group of colleagues who could collaborate and create a green groundswell locally. “That saying, ‘It takes a village,’ really is true,” says Matos-Rogers. 
 
Propelling a green movement 
That green grassroots effort entailed looking around Atlanta to see what green infrastructure already was in place that he and his colleagues could tap. 
 
He discovered a strong green movement fueled by organizations like Solarize Atlanta, Southface, and others that were working to make Atlanta a greener place. 
 
Solarize Atlanta helps homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits go solar, and Southface works to improve building efficiency and provides education and building certification.
 
Matos-Rogers started volunteering and attending several of the groups’ events, with the intention of collaborating with them and other green professionals to cultivate a greener Atlanta. 
 
Unconventional venues
One such event was last year’s National Drive Electric Week that was aimed at increasing awareness of EVs, solar, and real estate. Matos-Rogers participated with Solarize Atlanta and Creative Solar, and attendees got to see his Tesla S being charged by a mobile solar array. He was able to chat with attendees about the Tesla and broaden the conversations to residential solar. 
 
Another event – a follow-up for those interested in residential solar – was held at a local bar. Solarize Atlanta, a financial planner, a construction expert, and Mato-Rogers joined forces for the event and had one-on-one conversations with consumers seeking more details about residential solar. 
 
The financial planner talked about taxes and incentives, someone else answered questions about structural and roof issues, and Matos-Rogers talked about how green features could add value to a home and the importance of hiring a REALTOR® who is competent in green. “It’s a great relationship-building tool when you can talk with people about something specialized,” he says. 
 
Though such events don’t yield on-the-spot listing contracts, they do bring Matos-Rogers leads and raise his profile as a green expert. 
 
Long game
“Remember, this is a long game,” he comments. Right now he’s focused on creating the business environment and connections necessary for his business and the green movement to take off and be successful in Atlanta. 
 
9 Ways to Bring About a Green Culture 
Matos-Rogers has ideas about how you can start incorporating your green knowledge into your business, cultivating stronger connections with the green business community, and creating a culture that supports sustainability. 
 
1. Educate. “Green is a hard term and people don’t know what that GREEN logo means,” he says. His efforts are aimed not at telling his community about his designation but explaining its value to them, as homeowners, and to the health of the city. In all his interactions, Matos-Rogers aims to educate and enlighten consumers and the business community. 
 
2. Engage. It’s your job to find and engage with groups already advocating for green in your community. “These organizations have been overwhelmingly welcoming,” says Matos-Rogers. “They appreciate the power and exposure that REALTORS® can bring.” Participate without the expectation of immediate business. “How can you help them? How can you learn more? Build those relationships and see what comes from it,” he adds. 
 
3. Explain green. Embrace opportunities to share your know-how. Matos-Rogers regularly attends Southface’s Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable, a monthly networking event. In November, he shared a stage with a fellow Green Designee and a tax attorney to discuss the state of Atlanta’s green home market, new opportunities, and REALTORS®’ efforts to make green more prominent. “These events get a lot of attention and people see my name,” he says.
 
4. Tap GRC benefits. Matos-Rogers points to the GRC’s Webinars, the newsletter, and the NAR’s Green Designation Facebook Networking group as resources that can help you sell green ideas at your association, explain green concepts to consumers, and find like-minded practitioners. “Search the GRC site and meet other agents in your area,” he says. View them as partners, not competition. 
 
5. Share and connect. Don't be secretive about your knowledge. “If you try to hog the market and ‘own’ it, you’ll stifle growth,” believes Matos-Rogers. “There’s so much business to go around, and you can’t be everything to everybody,” he says. Share, connect, and grow together. It’s that idea of the industry being stronger together. 
 
6. Step out. Get out of hotel ballrooms, conference rooms, and other formal business settings. Meet people where they’re relaxing and they’re comfortable – at bars, farmers’ markets, and festivals, for example – and where you can have informal conversations. 
 
7. Don’t pitch. “Never make your encounters sales-y,” he says. Aim for natural conversations that build real relationships. 
 
8. Be authentic. Matos-Rogers lives in a mid-century modern house and has first-hand renovation experience that he relies on to answer clients’ questions about going green. “Since I’ve lived the experience, I can explain the pluses and minuses and provide competent referrals,” he says. “Having a passion and living the experience create an authenticity that’s better than any script.  Clients can tell the difference,” he says.
 
9. Capitalize on first-hand experience. Matos-Rogers and his husband, self-described tech geeks, have made theirs a true smart home that, he says, is right out of a science fiction movie. That gives him the chance to talk about marrying smart home and green technology and the value of being able to manage lighting and HVAC schedules, reduce energy consumption and costs, and monitor energy usage to find waste. Matos-Rogers also produces videos demonstrating new products and the small DIY changes that every homeowner can make. 

 

Knowledge Refresh: Green Upgrades Checklists

 
Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo is getting another moment in the spotlight with her new Netflix series in which she works with homeowners to do aggressive decluttering. 
 
This widely embraced obsession with purging and its benefits can work to your advantage. 
 
Kondo’s cry to ditch items that don’t spark joy gets consumers to shift away from consumption and not re-clutter their homes with useless, disposable items and fast fashion, 
 
Kondo and her methods just may just be a perfect conversation opener with home sellers. After all, you need them to purge and declutter so you then can step in and do some green home staging. 
 
Refer to your green course materials for more about the value of green staging and pre-sale upgrades. Encourage homeowners to make green changes before they put a house on the market. 
When prospective buyers walk through a home, you want them to see green. 
 
Here are 10 strategies to make a good green first impression and some pre-sale to-dos for sellers. 
 
1. Healthy IAQ. Explain the value of using non-toxic paints and stains and natural, healthy cleaning supplies to homeowners who are making upgrades, cleaning, and repainting. You can make the case with prospects that they’ll be moving into a space with better indoor air quality. For a deep dive into creating a healthy home, direct clients to the Healthy House Institute
 
2. Green upgrades. If they’re willing to invest in more significant upgrades, talk with sellers about the materials to include and avoid for every project. If they’re putting in new floors, for example, outline the value of installing  FSC-certified wood. Salvaged flooring is another option, and such a feature becomes a unique design element to highlight during walk-throughs with prospects. 
 
3. High-tech toys. Ask homeowners about the home’s technology they use to manage lights, control the HVAC system, identify energy waste, and so forth.
 
4. Zero chemicals.  Purge the house of all chemicals, from toxic cleaning products in the storage room and drain cleaner in the kitchen, to hair dye in the bathroom and lawn and garden chemicals in the garage.
 
5. Native plants. Outside, install an herb garden or even pots with edibles near the kitchen door. Native plants, flowers, and grasses always trump a high- maintenance lawn. Such plantings require less maintenance than grass, they save water, and attract butterflies, bees, and birds.   
 
6. High-impact trees. Trees also offer an array of human health and environmental advantages, including improved air quality and better storm water management. They also provide natural shade for a house. If they’re willing to plant new trees, help clients 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.
 
7. Firescaping. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, encourage sellers to modify the landscape to give their home a better chance of survival during a fire. Understand the basics of creating defensible zones, choosing fire-resistant plants, and how best to group plants. The University of California’s Garden Web provides detailed how-to’s.  Firescaping helps to distinguish a home from its competitors and it’s another conversation starter during showings. 
 
8. Easy composting, recycling. Be sure to make composting and recycling bins and rainwater barrels prominent. It’s a subtle signal to prospects about just how simple it would be to move in and continue with their green habits and adopt new ones. 
 
9. Green food. Scan through cabinets for forbidden items. Junk food, processed cheese, and plastic water bottles are no-no’s, for example. Organic food and fresh fruit make for a better first impression. 
 
10. Clear green benefits. Just in case you can’t be at every showing, be sure that every green element is highlighted. Use placards around the house to identify each green system, appliance, and feature. Create a bullet list of the benefits that a future homeowner will derive -- comfort, health, less costly energy bills, for example -- from a given feature.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2019: Build Skills, Opportunities, Relationships​

If you’ve vowed to ramp up your skills, develop new habits, or find more clients this year, we have some ideas – a baker’s dozen -- to get you started. 
 
We’ll be covering some of these topics in greater detail as the year goes on. 
 
1. Social media presence. Figure out the platforms -- whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and so forth -- where your clients and prospects are most active and start posting in those places consistently. 
 
2. Social media calendar. Brainstorm some regular social media topics-- design tips, market updates, green statistics, special local events, and so forth -- and start slotting those ideas in your calendar. When you get too busy with clients and closings, you’ll have something to drop in on schedule. 
 
3. Facebook. Create a Facebook Business page and learn to put on Facebook Live events that resonate with clients and deliver useful nuggets of information. 
 
4. Tie-ins. Use national event days as an excuse to connect with clients about green topics and showcase your expertise. For instance, Earth Hour is in March, Earth Day is in April, and May is national bike month. 
 
5. GRC member benefits. Use the educational and promotional benefits available from the GRC to weave green into your business. Analyze your needs and see how you can improve your advertising (the GRC offers logos, ads, and postcards), build client knowledge and relationships (client handouts) and make stronger connections with the wider green real estate community (NAR’s Green Designation Networking Community). 
 
6. Technology skills.  Look to your community college, continuing ed centers, or one-on-one tutors (Millennials are digital natives and need the cash) to get more adept at photography, video, updating your website, managing your blog, and so forth. Also consider outsourcing some of those functions to free up more time to find and work with clients. 
 
7. Constant education. Build your fluency in one aspect of building science that’s growing. Solar is one example, and that expertise is especially important if you’re practicing in a state where solar is taking off. Check out SEIA’s list of the top 10 solar states. Net-zero homes is another possibility. 
 
8. Continuing education. Get your CE credits early in the year. It’s one less thing to have to work into your schedule as the year gets busier and you can use the new tools and skills to improve your business for the entire year. 
 
9. Smart home technology. Your clients may already be using Alexa, the Nest and the Roomba. But they’ll likely look to you to help them understand more complex smart home technology and make decisions about the products that will have the biggest impact on energy efficiency, health, and quality of life. 
 
10. Green real estate advocate. If your local board has a green committee, join it and volunteer. If green isn’t prominent, find your tribe – like-minded colleagues – and start talking about the importance of a green committee and education. 
 
11. Facetime. Research what’s going on in the greenspace in your city. Get in front of your community by sitting on a green panel, teaching a seminar on green upgrades, or volunteering at a green-focused organization. Read about how Christopher Matos-Rogers (see “Cultivating a Green Business Environment” in this issue) has capitalized on the existing green groups in his community. 
 
12. City leaders. Get in front of your alderman, city council reps and environmental committee leaders so they know who you are and the skills you have. They may ask for your input when they’re working on green-related legislation and events. 
 
13. Past clients. Find a way to have some face-to-face contact with past clients. Invite them to a talk you’re giving about smart home technology or improving IAQ. Sponsor a team that clients’ kids play on and attend some of their Little League or soccer games. Lead a bike tour of green homes and community features. Organize a community event – planting a vegetable garden at a senior center or doing a spring park clean-up – and invite clients to join you. 
 

 

 

 

This Month's Tips: Make Energy Improvements Once, Save Forever​

The new year usually brings resolutions about cutting spending. Consider including home energy efficiency upgrades – a decision that will save money and increase your comfort for as long as you live in your house – among your 2019 resolutions. Here are three ways to get started. 
 
1. Energy audit. Energy auditors test your house to see where you’re losing the most energy and recommend upgrades to improve energy savings and comfort. 
 
2. Budget and plan. Prioritize your projects and start with those that bring the greatest savings. 
 
3. Quick fixes. Do simple DIY projects – installing LED bulbs, caulking, and weather stripping – that bring immediate savings. 
 

 

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Snapshot of Consumer perceptions about Homeownership​


Homeownership still is part of the American Dream, according to the Aspiring Home Buyer Profile by the National Association of REALTORS®.  The survey provides a snapshot of consumer preferences and their perceptions about homeownership and affordability.  

 

 

 

All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau unless otherwise noted

 

 

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