If you’re an environmentally conscious real estate professional, you’re in good company. The house was packed at the Land Use, Property Rights, and Environment forum during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, with a ballroom full of practitioners eager to discuss pressing environmental concerns in their markets.
But these weren’t fringe treehuggers of the real estate community; they were, as Amanda Stinton, director of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Sustainability Program, explained, leaders in a growing chorus of real estate pros calling for energy efficiency and environmental awareness. Stinton presented NAR’s REALTORS® and Sustainability 2017 Report—the first survey of its kind for the association—at the session. With nearly 3,000 respondents nationwide, the survey found that 71 percent have taken steps to reduce waste and energy usage in their business and at home.
“REALTORS® are committed to the reduction of energy waste,” Stinton said. Still, the path to turning their ambitions into reality is rough. Only 43 percent say their MLSs support green data fields; only 24 percent say tiny homes—a trend growing in popularity among consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint—are available in their market; and 70 percent say they have been involved in zero transactions involving a home with green features in the last 12 months. “We may have a desire to promote energy efficiency but not an effective path to do so.”
A couple of interesting questions came from attendees, notably when Bruce Elliott, president of the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association, asked how agents can justify a higher asking price for a green home. Stinton acknowledged that it often depends on the market and the buyer but noted that “we are starting to see feature-by-feature premiums.”
John Rosshirt, CRS, GRI, broker-associate at Stanberry & Associates in Austin, Texas, asked whether the sustainability report revealed any discrepancies between what real estate professionals and consumers considered desirable green features in homes and neighborhoods. Stinton said differences do exist: For example, when it comes to walkability, “there’s a disconnect between what practitioners think and what consumers think. Consumers scored it higher.”