By Elden Freeman
As the weather changes and the dead of winter sets in, real estate tends to
ease off a little bit.
But just because the pace of buying and selling slackens somewhat doesn’t mean
that there aren’t opportunities to add value to client relationships. At a
time of year when finances can be tight as Christmas bills are paid, the
ability to offer clients the opportunity to save money while helping the
environment is a valuable one real estate professionals can use to distinguish
themselves in their business.
The downturn in temperatures leads to higher heating bills, and every consumer
welcomes the chance to insulate themselves from these kinds of costs,
especially in a time period so known for fluctuations in energy prices. The
National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) has a partnership
with home-evaluation company AmeriSpec that gives NAGAB members a leg up when
it comes to advising clients on preparing for winter.
Homeowners across Canada may be eligible for grants under the EcoEnergy
program, a federal government retrofit incentive program developed by Natural
Resources Canada. “The program is also incentivized in the majority of
Canadian provinces in some way to help homeowners’ efforts have more of an
impact. Recognizing that each house is different, the recommendations are
customized to each house. The easy and inexpensive things that a homeowner can
do are outlined in the report with information on how to do them,” says Roger
Orvis, a registered home inspector with AmeriSpec.
“For instance, if the homeowner can make their house 20 per cent more airtight
they could get a federal grant of $150. If the house was in Ontario, for
instance, the homeowner would also get an additional $150 from the province.
Often some inexpensive materials like weather-stripping, spray foam insulation
and caulking and a few hours of time is all that’s needed.”
Grants for other household improvements can be even higher. Replacing a home’s
furnace with a more energy-efficient unit can qualify for a federal grant of
$500, which some provincial governments will match.
It helps for homeowners to be present during the energy audit. “Follow the
energy evaluator around, especially when the blower door test is being done.
The blower door test is a depressurization test of the house used to calculate
the natural turns per hour of its inside air,” says Orvis. This, and the
feedback the homeowner can get from the evaluator on the premises, can be a
source of savings. “Ask lots of questions while the evaluator is at your
house, especially if you have specific problems like a room that is colder or
draftier than the others. Since the recommendations are put in priority
sequence, try to implement the items that are going to have the most impact.”
Considering the environmental and economic benefits, one of the best gifts of
appreciation NAGAB member could give a client this season is the gift of
efficiency through a home energy audit. With the special rate afforded NAGAB
members, it’s a cost-effective way of serving your clientele in a green
manner. For more information, AmeriSpec can be reached in English or French at
1-866-284-6010 or at www.amerispec.ca/ecoenergy online.
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; email@example.com.