This crap gives Realtors and energy saving both a bad name

If it’s green, we’ll hype it! Here for your reading pleasure is an example. I’ve highlighted the bullshit.

The outlook sounds bleak for both buyers and sellers, but Realtor Michael Kiefer sees a silver lining in all of that – a green lining, to be precise. As people tighten their belts and try to live frugally, property that’s eco-friendly is becoming hot. Green real estate – which includes energy-efficient design, cost-saving appliances and long-lasting Earth-friendly or recycled materials – is increasingly sought, Kiefer says.

“This housing crisis has people thinking more closely about their utilities and being more conscious about how they operate a home,” says Kiefer…. Kiefer is an example of a new breed of real estate agents, professionals who have earned special credentials as experts in eco-friendly homes. Though there are currently only a handful of “green” real estate agents working in the District, the ranks of these planet-conscious pros are growing.


“When I started out four years ago [advocating green real estate], people would say ‘Green what?'” says Kiefer. Now, however, homeowners know enough to not “leave a light on in every room.”

Kiefer boosted his green smarts by becoming trained and certified as an expert in sustainable and environmentally friendly design by EcoBroker International ( in 2006. EcoBroker has been certifying professionals since 2002 through its courses in topics such as solar thermal energy, environmentally friendly paints and window finishings. In November 2008, the 1.3 million-member-strong National Association of Realtors launched its own Green Designee program ( to educate Realtors in green property and practices. Both the NAR and the EcoBroker programs require 18 hours of training; EcoBroker’s is completely online; NAR’s requires some in-person course work.


Courtney Poulos, a Realtor with the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage-affiliated Reishman Group in Dupont Circle, was the only local Realtor who had been certified by the NAR as a green designee by mid-March, according to NAR’s Green Resource Council.

Poulos, 31, had already become an EcoBroker in 2007 but says she wanted to learn even more about green residential properties. The NAR’s program taught her more about topics including “green communities, smart growth and design, public awareness and utilities, water consumption, efficiency, vendors and energy audits,” says Poulos.

“There are two reasons to go green in this market,” Poulos says. “One is to save money on your utility bills.” Small tweaks such as insulating a water heater or adding extra insulation to leaky walls can help homeowners save $40 or $50 per month, Poulos says.

The second reason to make a home more energy-efficient is simply to improve its desirability on the market down the road.“Buyers want to save money [on utilities], too,” Poulos says, noting that Montgomery County recently passed a disclosure law that requires the sellers of owner-occupied homes to provide utility bills as part of their disclosure package to potential buyers. “If that’s not proof of awareness of utility costs and energy in the real estate market, I can’t imagine what is”.

Anyone with brains isn’t going to throw money away needlessly and a well insulated house is more comfortable to live in. Energy efficient boilers can make sense, over a long enough ownership, as do windows, wall insulation etc., all with the same caveat: if you stay there long enough to recoup the expense. None of this is cheap.

But this whole “Green Certification” program is a bunch of hooey dreamed up by the National Association of Realtors to add another look -good, meaningless “certification” after an agent’s name. Eighteen hours of on-line training? Wow, an expert!

My personal opinion is that an agent unwilling to keep abreast of new building techniques, including energy saving ones, without the help of an on-line course and without the lure of a silly new certification is probably not qualified to sell real estate to begin with. We’re supposed to be providing value for the money we receive. Blissful ignorance isn’t value.

Buyers have not and are not paying more for eco-friendly houses (they probably do in Seattle and Berkley, but those are in a different country). That fact drives eco-nuts crazy and explains why they keep enacting ever more onerous laws on builders. If something makes economic sense, people will respond. If it doesn’t, they won’t. Example? The compact fluorescent bulbs discussed earlier today. The Greens insisted that they save money so consumers should be forced to pay $15 each for them. Instead of being grateful, the rest of the country is discovering what those of us wh tried them before already knew: they give out lousy light, take forever to warm up, don’t last anywhere close to their advertised life and spew toxic dust when they break. So much for other people deciding what’s best for you. And so much for “Green Certification”. We don’ need no stinkin’ badges!

UPDATE: As mentioned previously, this stuff is no more valuable in Tucson than it is here.


Filed under Uncategorized

9 responses to “This crap gives Realtors and energy saving both a bad name

  1. Retired IB'er

    Hey Chris,

    I’m guessing as a kid you liked the show “Branded”?

    • christopherfountain

      He was innocent, not a charge was true, yet they say he ran awaaaaay, what can you do when you’re branded – and must prove you’re a man?
      Nah, never saw it, IB’r

      • christopherfountain

        Funny, IB’r, it reminds me of when I was a member of Riverside BSA’s Troop II and Sandy Hamill (older brother of the skater) was drummed out of the troop for leading our “Racoon Patrol” into another, more sinister group, “The Highwaymen” – we sniped tents, tossed fruit cans into fires so they’d heat up, explode and send hot coals through other troops’ campsites at Jamborees, etc. The scout leaders hoped Sandy would go quietly but we held a drumming out ceremony that night in Sellack Hall, and ripped off his badges, one by one, while singing the “Branded” theme song.
        Sandy somehow made it through Yale and medical school notwithstanding the ignominious ending of his scouting career and the Highway men continued. Until they tossed the rest of us out too.

  2. Walt

    I am so well positioned to capitalize on this Green crap, it’s KILLING me.
    I can just picture the 5 filly’s (S.I.H.) running through a meadow on a sunny day!! What a marketing brochure!! I could sell ice to an Eskimo for Pete’s Sake.
    And Bernie. He was a conservationist. You know how much paper $50 billion is? He was just saving trees for Pete’s Sake. And if he gave the money back, people would have bought cars. Can’t have that.
    Off to Happy Hour!!!
    Your tree hugging Pal,

  3. Retired IB'er


    I am glad that I helped bring back that memory to you. It is a most excellent one and made me chuckle at the image so I can only imagine how it made you feel.

    Funny how the mind works. I hadn’t thought of Branded and Chuck Conners for at least thirty years (more likely 40), and it came to me, somehow, when reading your post.

    Thanks for the memories.

  4. Walt

    Oh boy. You two guys are starting to scare me. We got a little Craigs List MfM S&M thing going on in here? Not that there is anything wrong with that!!!
    Branded? Boy Scout’s? Come on guys!! At least be discreet. But. BUT!!! I have a whole new market you guys can help me tap into. The filly’s (S.I.H.) never made hay here.
    Call me at Basils.
    Off to Happy Hour,
    Your Buddy,

  5. SizeBuyer

    Green This!

    What about the people that purchased hybrids? The Prius? What’s that car go for? 30k? What about gas versus hybrid models? I think they usually run about 5k more.

    Do you know why the free market has never come up with an alternative fuel??? Unless oil trades at 200/barrel there is currently no other energy source that even comes close to being as cost efficient.

    Wake up folks!

    Now if you’re reasons are environmental well that’s another topic altogether. But I suspect a lot of the hybrid purchases are more of a knee jerk reaction to the attitude of “I’ll show those oil companies!”. The reality is that you will not show them anything but your ignorance!!! That prius you bought is never going to pay off with gas at these prices…do the math!!!

    • christopherfountain

      Shhh! I’ve got some real estate I want to sell them, and Walt’s got a dynamite investment idea the details of which he’ll reveal upon his return from Mustique, or is it Nigeria?

  6. anonymous

    Eco stuff goes away in a deep recession…much easier to get teardown and building permits in elite SF suburbs these days….Prius sales are down notably….but hard to find a new 65 on dealer lot on SF Peninsula, as sales are more robust than those of cheaper, higher MPG Mercs

    Lots of new G550s and 7Xs now available because of cancelled orders from loser TARP recipients, like Citi…though JPM is standing by its orders for two G650s, having told the clowns in Wash to screw themselves….Gulfstreams are made in US by well-paid US workers….and lots of oil and gas money is in TX, a strange place but still part of US…TX is prob more American than communist WashDC will ever be