Marketing green real estate, part one

Green Real Estate Jul 23, 2010

By Elden Freeman

hs-green-EldenRecent headlines have reinforced environmental concerns: how a malfunction in an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico can endanger the surrounding ecosystem, and how one volcano in Iceland can grind air travel over a quarter of the globe to a halt. With this in mind, communicating to prospective clients that your real estate practice takes into account environmental concerns gives you a huge advantage.

In any situation, if a customer can feel like a purchase is in line with their values as well as their wants and needs, they are more likely not only to make that purchase but to be satisfied with it.

As marketing goes, word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients are among the best forms of promotion. Real estate purchases are by their very nature momentous, and the ability of a real estate professional to assure a client they are in good hands is paramount. How can agents and brokers distinguish themselves while marketing to expand their practices? By addressing the environmental concerns that are prominent in the minds of their clients.

There are many facets of green real estate to understand and use to enhance your real estate practice. Certified Green Real Estate experts understand how green properties provide unique opportunities that make listing and marketing them different from ordinary properties. The environmentally conscientious real estate professional knows how to implement green practices into life and business practice beyond the properties he lists. Clients are savvy enough to know that when a Realtor espouses green values, he ought to evidence those in his behaviour.

What makes a property green isn’t just having greater insulation and lower energy bills. It also includes water usage, how the home itself makes use of rain water, the kinds of vegetation in and around the property, the construction materials and methods used on the property, alternative sustainable energy resources and more. For example, if a client approached you with a unit they wanted to sell in a very desirable neighbourhood, but it is slightly older housing stock, built in the earlier half of the 20th century, there are several green real estate skills that come into play. By simply upgrading appliances, installing efficient toilets, shower heads and a new efficient furnace, the owners could be eligible for a variety of grants. They could then use that information in the listing of their home to enhance its desirability and value.

Being able to determine the energy efficiency of a property is an important green real estate skill. To improve a property’s energy efficiency, green Realtors are able to take advantage of green grants and incentives offered by municipal, provincial and federal levels of government. As part of that process, they must be able to concisely outline the benefits of an energy audit and guide clients in the best way to obtain one.

Being able to explain the overall cost-benefits analysis of green homes and features in a way that is immediate and useable to clients is an often overlooked but crucial and complementary ability. Along similar lines, explaining how resource-efficient homes ultimately affect long-term costs and environmental impact at all stages of development and construction educates clients in the comprehensive benefits of buying and living in green properties. And finally, where all these skills come together is in the ability to take into account green home features, or their potential for development in a given property, when developing a price or offer for a client.

Plenty of agents and brokers are assiduous about tending to their clients’ needs, but it is surprising how many have yet to integrate the environmental aspect of real estate into their practice. What qualifies as being ahead of the curve now will be standard business practice in a handful of years. This gives those who possess these skills now a big leg up.

Elden Freeman B.A., M.E.S, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB). 416-536-7325; elden@nagab.org. For more information about NAGAB and what it can do for your business, visit www.NAGAB.org online.