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 (EcoBroker.com) 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 (Greenresourcecouncil.org) 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.