November 2010 Newsletter
RC Ramps Up 2011 Benefits
In this economy, all people are weighing every business dollar they spend. GRC understands. And it's made sure that the $99 needed for NAR's Green REsource Council renewal yields continuing benefits to you. Those include keeping you up to date on the latest in green and helping you to raise your visibility. During the November Webinar, Amanda Stinton, Coordinator for NAR'S Green Designation, will detail some key GRC membership advantages, including:
Newsletter: The GRC newsletter keeps you current on critical legislative developments, profiles members with fresh ideas that you can adapt for your business, highlights new marketing avenues, and reports the latest green incentives to share with clients.
Webinars: GRC Webinars bring green education directly to you in a format that is quickly digestible and offers information you can use immediately. Experts in the field give you exactly what you need to know about a given topic, whether that's green tax incentives, identifying ideal prospects, or changes in green lending.
Marketing: Landing clients is, of course, the lifeblood of the real estate business. Step one toward that goal is letting people know you're educated and ready to execute their green transaction. You don't have to spend money and time writing or designing materials to get the word out in your community that you're the go-to green real estate practitioner. The GRC Online Print Shop features customizable marketing pieces, such as postcards and brochures. Just upload your contact list and the site automates the whole printing mailing process for a fee, sending beautiful pieces directly to clients. In addition, you can use customizable press releases to reach news outlets and bloggers to develop your local profile. And incorporating the green logo and educational materials help you to create a green-focused online presence.
Green guidance: When clients need tips about greening homes or when you're looking for a precise definition of a term, you need to look no further than the GRC website. A comprehensive glossary and green guides, along with course materials and case studies help you help your clients better understand everything about green real estate.
Networking: Social media platforms, like the GRC Online Community, let you network with NAR Green Designees around the country. You can blog, network, post events and ideas, and share your accomplishments and referrals. Don't forget to find NAR's Green Designation on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
New members: Both new and existing members can use the new members section to find steps to increase your visibility and create a strong green presence in your community. Download presentation templates to showcase your knowledge to buyers, sellers and builders. Also, learn about some venues where you can announce your accomplishment to your community.
Cross-educational benefits: Yet another incentive to maintain NAR's Green Designation is that the Core Course counts as an elective credit toward the ABR® and CRS designations, and the Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification. Moreover, the GRC continually works in concert with its members to raise the profile of the designation and to promote the advantages of working with NAR Green Designees and the importance of greening the housing stock. For example, it continues getting out the word on the greening of MLSs around the country. And last month, the GRC developed a consumer awareness campaign with Discovery, Inc. on Treehugger.com to familiarize consumers with GRC's mission. Similar campaigns are in the works for 2011. The GRC will further ramp up the benefits it brings in 2011 by delivering a new post card and press release series. Keep an eye out at the GRC site for more fresh resources to tap next year. Stinton says that the GRC is continually looking to bring greater value to members and notes the distinct difference between the value of certifications and designations. "Certifications will give you education. A designation will give you education and ongoing benefits, resources, and a sense of community among members. GREEN is unique in that way, since we have certain fervor within our designee community about green issues."
Sharing The Green Word
For Bob McCranie, a broker with Texas Pride Realty in Carrollton, Texas, going green was an evolution rather than an "aha" moment. He and his partner got interested in green and started investigating ways to save money and reduce the environmental impact of their house. And reduce they have. They could be poster children for how to retrofit a not-so-old house to boost efficiency. Over a six-year period, starting in 2004, for instance, they've cut their home electricity usage by 41 percent. Among the green changes they've made to their house, built in 1983, were installing a solar water heater, upgrading windows, installing a radiant barrier, and putting in R50 insulation in the attic. In addition, McCranie drives a hybrid and is a proponent of such cars because he's found that they deliver on their efficiency promises. McCranie, a GRC 2010 EverGreen award winner, uses his personal experience as a starting point for an array of education programs he delivers both to real estate practitioners and consumers.Here are some of his methods and messages.
Getting the word out: McCranie led the Green Legacy project for the Collin County Association of REALTORS®' REALTORS® Leadership Program Class III. His 30-minute presentation focused on retrofitting existing houses to make them greener, and illustrated ways for real estate practitioners to make greener decisions in their practices. He regularly shares his knowledge with other practitioners, and he's also tweaked the presentation for consumers and delivers it to various local groups. In it, he addresses common energy hogs and simple ways for people to slash energy appetites by offering practical green solutions for lighting, HVAC, pools and hot tubs, computers, cooking, appliances and electronic vampires.
Show circuit: McCranie sets up booths at multiple green festivals to meet those interested in going green. He sells nothing. The point is to share his knowledge and retrofitting successes. The majority of exhibitors are selling products, he points out, and McCranie finds that attendees are often overwhelmed both by the number of products and the hawking that goes on. He disarms people by saying "I'm not here to sell, but to give you ideas and show you what I've done to my house." He finds that people then are willing to engage with him. And he also directs them to his blog, www.DallasGreenStreets.com, where they can see project details and charts illustrating exactly how much energy he's saved. The goal, he says is to increase name recognition and widen his sphere of influence. "I'm an independent broker, so getting the brand and my name out there is essential," he says. "The fact that people are starting to know me as 'that green guy' will be helpful. Green will be the way of the industry after short sales and foreclosure end," he comments.
Creative marketing: Next year, McCranie plans to set up a booth at the 2011 Dallas Auto Show to bring green to an audience that likely includes "non-believers."
"Anywhere you can show the green angle is great. At green festivals you're already preaching to the choir. If you can go to a civic league or other shows and bring green to them, then you're reaching people who may not know about green," he comments. Victories and mishaps: Going green doesn't always follow a linear course, and McCranie shares both his successes and failures. For instance, he wanted a tankless water heater until he discovered that gas pipes to the house were too small to accommodate one. Instead, he opted for solar. "Recognizing what you can and can't do is part of retrofitting," McCranie says. His experience illustrates the importance of perseverance and seeking creative alternatives instead of giving up when going green gets messy.
Deep Green In New Orleans
Deep green could have been one theme of the 2010 REALTORS® Conference and Expo in New Orleans. NAR and GRC members had an abundance of options for expanding their green knowledge and network. And they took them. A series of education sessions, for instance, offered a rich line-up of valuable content. Sarah Lamia, GREEN, President of Home Building Coach Inc., Temecula, Calif., walked attendees through ways that green labels can help to sell homes. She covered everything from green certification programs to effective ways to discuss the value of going green to clients.Seminar handouts are available online.
Dave Porter of PorterWorks, Inc., Stanwood, Wash., took the mic to provide an overview of the latest in green appraising, which is a critical step in moving the green housing agenda forward. Four panelists addressed an array of topics, including how to spot local and national green home trends and the benefits of a green mortgage. Thanks to NAR's new post-convention feature, you can watch videos of some sessions, such as the panel discussion. View videos at NARdiGras 2010 Conference Live. Other green-themed sessions included discussions on conducting residential energy audits, how green knowledge can help you to generate revenue, and the ins and outs of the EPA’s lead paint renovation rule.
NOLA's green return
Others got a chance to tour the city's Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Among them was Al Medina, Director, NAR's Green Designation, who says it was both sobering and inspiring. It was sobering because the area is still decimated. It was inspiring because as New Orleans comes back, it's coming back green, according to Medina. Actor Brad Pitt, for instance, launched Make It Right, a group whose goal is providing new sustainable, storm-resistant, and affordable housing. One Make It Right house, Special NO 9 House, was lauded by the American Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment this year, and the group named the house to its "Top Ten Green Project" for 2010. Special NO 9 House has a Home Energy Rating (HERS) index of 35, and the design incorporates insulation, systems, and non-toxic materials in ways that allow it to outperform the typical American home in energy and health.
Chills and honors
And the NOLA GRC reception had three purposes: Chilling out. Networking. Honoring.
The chilling out included New Orleans-themed drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
More than 100 members got a chance to catch up with one another and exchange knowledge and business cards.
And attendees raised a glass to the four 2010 EverGreen Award winners, who are GRC members who advance the green movement in their communities.
The winners are two NAR Green Designees, Bob McCranie and Marjory Gentsch; one instructor, Curtis Hall; and one course provider, the Traverse City Association of REALTORS(R). TAAR's award was accepted by Kim Pontius, Executive Vice President of the Association and local green advocate.
Read about Gentsch in the October newsletter and learn more about McCranie in this month's edition. Profiles of Hall and Pontius will be coming up in future issues.
Sarah Jones acknowledges that people typically consider residential leasing the less glamorous part of a real estate career. Yet, developing a rental niche can pay the bills, build a pipeline of steady clients, and do a good turn for the environment. Jones, an NAR Green Designee, started Bamboo Realty Inc.,DBA Bamboo Leasing in Houston last October and works with property managers and owners in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Fort Worth to market and lease properties with green features.
"Property owners and managers have an unlimited number of REALTORS® they can work with," observes Jones. "Offering green services is a great way to differentiate yourself, and it's a niche you can carve out."
In just one year, Bamboo has grown from three agents to 14. During the month of November 2009, the company's first full month in business, it closed $14,671 in rental commission income. And in the first nine days of November 2010, it closed $50,758 in rental commission income.
And more renters, particularly 20- and 30-somethings, are interested in green properties. An April 2010 apartments.com survey, for instance, found that the majority of respondents wanted to live in an apartment community that catered to their environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Eighty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they'd prefer to live in a green apartment community. More than 25 percent indicated that they’d pay higher rents to save money on energy costs.
Jones started by identifying rental buildings that already had green features and built relationships with the owners and managers of those buildings.
She found properties with varying levels of greenness. Some offered recycling, others had a LEED rating, and still others incorporated green construction or materials, such as radiant barrier rooftop insulation, solar shades, or recycled post-consumer tire rubber as sound barriers between floors.
When she shows rental properties, she doesn't focus on traditional amenities, such as room or closet sizes. After all, she says, people can figure out whether their bed will fit into a bedroom.
Instead, she points to features like double-pane windows and solar shades and what they'll mean for tenants' comfort and energy bills. And depending on the building or unit, Bamboo agents call attention to everything from energy efficient appliances, water-saving devices, and premium parking spots for hybrid cars, to carpet made from recycled material and low-VOC paint on the walls. "Those are all good talking points," notes Jones.
In addition, advertising for such units point up buildings' green characteristics, including:
- Walkscore.com ratings
- Energy efficiencies
- Building materials
- Certifications, such as LEED
Bamboo's marketing, from the name of the company to the design of its logo and promotional materials, screams green. The color scheme is, of course, green, and the Web site has an earthy, organic aesthetic. Jones and her team get the green word out through blogs, Twitter and Facebook, where they promote both green rentals and offer green living tips and insight. And for every lease it executes, the company donates $100 to a green-related charity.
And renters don't stay renters forever. Some have turned into buyers. One renter who became a buyer closed on a property in August, and Jones is currently negotiating a $2 million offer on a condo for another rental client. "We're cultivating early relationships with future buyers," she comments. "I have a dedicated client well before another REALTOR® has a chance to sell them a home."
- ENERGY STAR-- Offers information about lowering multifamily housing operating costs and ways to promote energy efficiency among residents.
- Green Landlady-- Covers an array of green property management-related topics.
- National Apartment Association-- Feature resources and tools to green rental properties.
THIS MONTH'S TIPS
Reducing Utility Costs in Multifamily Housing Common Areas
Lower swimming pool and hot tub temperature settings: The American Red Cross recommends 78°F as the optimal swimming pool temperature. An adjustment can mean significant savings for pools typically set to 80°F and higher. Try setting hot tubs to 96°F during hotter months and no higher than 102°F during cooler months.
Install lighting controls: Lighting controls ensure lights will not be left on in unoccupied or naturally lit areas. Photosensors can be used in most exterior lighting applications, as well as in naturally-lit indoor areas such as lobbies. Vacancy sensors work for fitness centers, restrooms, mechanical rooms, electrical trash collection rooms. Consider installing timers in model units.
Better manage vacant units: Turn off breakers when feasible, and turn heating and cooling off or to a minimal temperature setting; adjust refrigerators and freezers to their warmest settings; and turning off water heaters.
Source: ENERGY STAR
All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau