The REsource Newsletter

February 2018

In This Issue


From the Director
Illinois Bill Aims for Lofty Energy Efficiency, Job Goals
Webinar: Think Kumbuya When Communicating With Clients
GRC Member Benefit: NAR's Green Designation Newtworking Community
Tips: Opt Out of Junk Mail

 

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From the Director 

It’s just eight weeks into 2018 and I already see a strong year shaping up for the GRC and its members. 

A big welcome to our new members. Thanks to you, we not only saw our membership numbers rise, but we also saw a 20 percent spike in our course offerings up between 2017 and 2016. For all GRC members that means more people are seeing the value of the designation, which broadens your network and brings green home concepts to more communities around the country. 

Your work also aligns well with some of NAR’s 2018 strategic priorities. One entails separating the REALTOR® from the real estate licensee in the consumer’s mind. Another is encouraging members to seek out education and get involved in the industry. 

By getting and using the Green Designation, you’re distinguishing yourself in your market and truly adding value to each transaction. You’re also helping to increase the professionalism of the whole real estate industry.  

Industry progress 
At some recent industry meetings I’ve attended, I’ve also been seeing greater attention being paid to topics that directly affect you.  

One continues to be a focus on getting Millennials to step into homeownership. When they do enter the market, they’re looking for the complete package. Think areas that are transit oriented with connectivity to work, restaurants, entertainment, parks, and a walkable downtown. 

They’ve been showing a willingness to compromise and opt for townhouses or attached homes in cities and near-by suburbs to get those all-important amenities rather than buying single-family properties in more far-flung suburbs. 

Eliminating the costs associated with commuting and owning a car could free up a bit of cash that Millennials may be able to put toward their first home.

Developers and investors are seeing the value of properties in these kinds of amenity-rich central locations, and some are buying, improving, and flipping homes. Others are tearing down existing buildings to make way for the product Millennials want, and these infill projects adhere to the latest building codes and deliver the operational efficiency that’s so important to this generation. 

Future loan products
Finding the right financing remains challenging for those who want to do energy efficiency upgrades. Often homeowners need to take a loan for upgrades that is separate from their conventional loan. 
How can we roll the two into a single financing vehicle and create greater value and convenience for homeowners? 

These financing conversations now are taking place among industry leaders and I’m looking forward to the solutions that start taking shape. Since you’re a liaison between your clients and the lending industry, your voice is crucial in that conversation. 

Data is king
Taking the management of real estate data to the next level happens to be another strategic priority for NAR. With the ongoing greening of the MLS, we’ve long been on board with this goal.  

Your understanding of green data and the MLS evolution and just what benefits that green data brings to clients give you a competitive advantage. After all, you’re already equipped to communicate fluently on a topic that so many REALTORS® just aren’t educated on yet.

Greener connections
You also can raise your profile and drum up new business and contacts by connecting with the GRC and your fellow members. A redesign of the GRC website later this year will create a more intuitive, personal experience for you when you visit NAR's Green REsource Council

In addition, when you need to ask questions, find the latest industry news, and connect with other members, head to in NAR's Green Designation Networking Community
on Facebook. Nearly 1,000 members strong, it’s the place to stay up on everything happening with your membership and in the green sphere. 

To learn more about what NAR's Green Designation Networking Community can do for you, see “GRC Member Benefit: NAR's Green Designation Networking Community Eases Your Isolation” in this issue. 

I look forward to the future of this industry and I’m glad that you’re helping to shape that future.  
 

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“ There's a cultural divide that is driven by politics. Real estate practitioners need to find a way to communicate with clients in a non-partisan manner and move away from the 'us versus them' mentality." 

 

 

            --Mike Bellamente, MBA, LEED GA, GREEN of Zoeller Realty Group at Keller Williams Coastal Realty, Portsmouth, N.H.

       

                                
 

Illinois Bill Aims for Lofty Energy Efficiency, Jobs Goals  

The 2016 Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) opens the door for a brighter energy future for Illinois.
   
The goals of FEJA are lofty and it’s expected that the law will help to cut electricity waste, improve the state’s environmental health, bring renewable energy, and make clean energy more accessible to consumers and lower their utility costs. 

Some features of FEJA include: 
Energy efficiency goals – By 2030, the state’s two biggest utilities, ComEd and Ameren must reduce electricity waste by 21.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively. 

“Environmental groups are happy because FEJA will stimulate the development of more renewable energy generation in the state,” comments Jan Gudell, solar program manager with Chicago-based Elevate Energy, a non-profit focused on programs that advance energy efficiency, reduce costs, protect the environment, and make clean and efficient energy accessible. 

Solar for All – Illinois Solar for All is an ambitious program that will include bringing renewable energy and jobs to low-income neighborhoods and those that have been most affected by pollution and dirty energy policies. 

A plan for community solar, for instance, will make clean energy accessible to a broader swath of consumers who want to tap renewable energy without having to install solar panels on their homes. 

FEJA allocates a total of $30 million to develop and implement several job training programs, and the dollars will be given out in increments over the next 12 years. 

In December 2017, several non-profits were awarded the first round of funding to get the job training programs up and running. Elevate Energy was among the recipients.

The training will create a pipeline of talented workers for the solar industry. 

“We’ve worked to ensure that these jobs and the training go to those that stand the most to benefit,” says Jeanine Otte, Elevate Energy’s senior manager, clean energy jobs and small business development. 

That includes populations who most need job skills, such as kids leaving the foster care system and ex-offenders returning to society. 

Otte says that private electrical contractors are stepping up to offer training, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is providing apprenticeship programs. 

Elevate Energy will be working with contractors to ensure that they’re prepared to work in the Solar for All program and that they’re ready to jump on solar projects when they come along. Elevate Energy also is providing things like workshops, coaching, technical support, and professional development to the firms. 

Rebates, incentives, on-bill financing – FEJA will expand efficiency-related rebates and incentive programs for consumers. In addition, homeowners will be able to make energy efficiency improvements without incurring an upfront cost, thanks to an on-bill financing program that will allow them to pay off upgrades through their utility bills. 

Health impacts – The Natural Resources Defense Council analyzed the FEJA’s long-term health effects and found that between now and 2030, FEJA will help the state’s residents avoid an array of medical problems, including  7,890 asthma attacks, 1,100 asthma emergency department visits, and 1,650 heart attacks.

Housing and real estate practitioners – FEJA likely will have a direct impact on housing and motivate more buyers and homeowners to install solar panels on their homes. 

It also may raise homeowners’ expectations of their real estate practitioner. For instance, homeowners will expect the solar amenity to be properly valued when they eventually sell a home, and they’ll likely choose real estate professionals who are up to speed on and can explain solar and market its benefits. 

Editor’s note: Elevate Energy is offering a 15% discount to NAR Green Designees on its three-hour solar course, Selling the Sun: Establishing Value for Solar Homes. It covers how a solar system works, financing options, and tips for listing, valuing, and selling solar homes. Visit the Center for REALTOR Development and use the code STS15OFF to get the discount. The sign-up deadline is March 16th. 

Economic health – FEJA could be a boon for the state’s economy, as a vibrant industry starts building up around renewable energy. 

Anne McKibbin, director, policy at Elevate Energy anticipates that FEJA will make Illinois one of the country’s clean energy leaders.  

In addition, FEJA may draw corporations to Illinois, given that the availability of low-cost renewables is becoming a deciding factor in where companies choose to relocate. “So many are committed to decreasing their energy use and relying on renewables when they’re looking for new place to land,” says McKibbin. 

Another possibility is that manufacturers that service the solar industry may decide to set up shop in Illinois.

“That new tax base and the economic boost that FEJA will give to the state will change the perceptions of our elected officials about what this clean energy industry can do for the overall economy,” says Gudell. “They’ll see it as a bright spot that they’ll want to continually support.” 

Bring Efficiency to Your State 
If you want energy efficiency and green jobs addressed in your state, raise your voice. 

1. Do some research to see what’s already in place and what’s in the works. 

2. Contact the section of your state’s consumer advocacy department that is focused on utilities and make it clear that energy efficiency is in demand. 

3. Share the same message with your legislators. 

4. Join environmental groups in your city and state and raise awareness about the value of greater energy efficiency. Work together to press for a comprehensive plan that addresses the specific needs and challenges of your state. 
 

Webinar: Think Kumbaya When Communicating With Clients 

Mike Bellamente, MBA, LEED GA, GREEN of Zoeller Realty Group at Keller Williams Coastal Realty, Portsmouth, N.H., took the mic during the January 2018 webinar, “Communicating Effectively on Sustainability: Understanding the current mindset of home buyers & sellers around high performance and energy efficient homes.” 

He looked at research from places like Gallup, OgilvyEarth, and the Shelton Group to provide a macro-level view of consumers’ attitudes and beliefs about the environment and he discussed how best to talk with clients about energy efficiency, high-performance homes, green concepts, and the environment. 

5 takeaways
Here are 5 key points from Bellamente’s presentation. 

1. Political divide. “There’s a cultural divide that is driven by politics,” he said. “Real estate practitioners need to find a way to communicate with clients in a non-partisan manner and move away from the ‘us versus them’ mentality. “It needs to be Kumbaya, not left versus right,” added Bellamente. 

2. Me. Me. Me. When talking with clients, always be ready to answer, “What’s in it for me?” 

3. Make it personal. Don’t rely on canned presentations. Know how to meet each client where they are--whether they’re deep green, red or blue--with messages that resonate with them. 

4. Upbeat messaging. Keep your messages simple, positive, and upbeat. No one likes being bogged down with news of environmental gloom and doom.  

5. Future buyers. The millennials are on center stage now. Stay up on their wants, needs, and how to connect with them. But also start learning about the Yayas (Youth and Young Adults), who are between ages 18 and 24. They’re your next generation of homebuyers. 

Listen to the complete Webinar and see the research he referenced.
 

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GRC Member Benefit: NAR's Green Desingation Networking Community Eases Isolation

Sometimes life as a GREEN designee can be lonely, especially if you’re the only green-minded practitioner in your market. 
 
Who’s there to talk shop with you? How do you build relationships? Where do you go to share ideas and get advice? 
 
And if you’re in an aggressively non-green market, you may even find people giving you that look. You know. The one that says, “You’re one of those tree-huggers, aren’t you?”  
 
Avoiding that kind of professional isolation is just one reason to participate in NAR's Green Designation Networking Community on Facebook. Plus, it’s a GRC membership benefit. 
 
Nearly 1,000 current members go to the networking community to pose questions, find recommendations, and learn from each other. 
 
It’s a warm, welcoming spot where you’re understood, and it’s a place to talk about the industry, get ideas, and maybe lament about a lack of support for sustainability in your market.
 
Discussions and announcements are wide-ranging, and recent topics have included: 
 
The reinstatement of green home tax credits in the federal budget deal 
Wind turbine farms’ effect on property values 
 
What to do when your appraiser knows nothing about green features 
 
An updated compendium of tax credits and incentives by state 
 
Finding a HERS auditor
 
Advice about greening the MLS
 
In addition, the networking community is a place to get GRC updates, breaking news, and a heads-up when the Social Engagement Platform has been updated.  
 
Then there’s that all-important networking component.
 
For GRC members, connections first made online often transition to the real world after an in-person meeting at an industry event like the NAR Convention and Expo.
 
After that, you have a green friend and colleague for life. 

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This Month's Tips: Opt Out of Junk Mail

Nearly 12 billion paper catalogs are sent to U.S. homes every year, according to the Story of Stuff Project. More than 4 million tons of junk mail are produced yearly, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Half of it ends up in landfills every year. 

Here are three ways to reduce the flow. 

1. Click here to stop getting those preapproved and prescreened credit and insurance offers. 

2. Head to DMA Choice and pay $2 to get off a slew of mailing lists. Also check out Catalog Choice and  Paper Karma

3. Think twice about entering contests and filling out warranty cards and contact cards at events. They’re frequently how junk mailers get your name in the first place. And when you make donations, make recipients clear that you don’t want your information sold to other organizations. 

 

 

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Buyers Unfazed About Possible Mortgage Rate Hike

The word on the street is that mortgage rates will keep rising. Even so, few will change their buying plans if rates rise above 5 percent, says a Redfin survey. It turns out that respondents are more concerned about things like higher taxes and housing affordability. 

 

All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau unless otherwise noted

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