At a recent real estate leadership retreat, I was invited to co-facilitate a session on “Standing up to Climate Change.” I have 20 years’ experience in sustainable building and am the CEO of a company that certifies the energy efficient and renewable energy features of homes to document their value. Empowering homeowners with information to enhance their quality of life and create sustainable communities is my why.


During our session, my co-facilitator, Leading RE’s CEO Paul Boomsma, and I spoke at length about disaster preparedness, stranded assets, rising home insurance rates, and the promise of new home technology. Why? Because 2017’s devastating floods and fires led to a lot of disruption in the real estate industry. For at risk properties in certain areas, the reality of climate change now is beginning to show itself through rising insurance costs, investor awareness, and fluctuations in valuation.


The “Green” Potential in the Real Estate Market


Of course, the future is yet unwritten, and we have an opportunity to choose a prosperous path, as opposed to a disastrous one. The real estate industry in particular has both a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous liability if/when climate change impacts increase. Over five million homes were sold in 2017 – that means there were 10 million opportunities (buy and sell side) to share advice on home improvements that can quite literally, change the world. Get the HVAC tuned up, install a smart thermostat, replace aging appliances with ENERGY STAR labeled brands, etc. to name a few.


For those homes where the owner has already made improvements or built the home to a higher standard, real estate agents can help sellers get maximum value for their properties at closing. Marketing the home’s energy saving and comfort making features is one way to do it. Using all applicable MLS fields so that an appraiser can find the right comps to assess the home is another. These activities also help buyers find high-quality, efficient properties.


The New Energy Economy and Your Home


If you’re a homeowner, here’s what you should know: right now, today, we have the means to improve our homes for comfort, health, and energy savings with off the shelf products that literally pay for themselves. These improvements also conserve resources and reduce the negative impacts our first-world lifestyle can have on the environment.


Policy and energy nerds call it “The New Energy Economy.” I call it convenient, cool, and a better value. As an agent or homeowner, you may already be familiar with aspects of the New Energy Economy such as smart thermostats, LED lighting, and solar panels. The cost for these technologies has been dropping even while features have gotten better and better.


On the horizon we have the mass production of electric cars and cheap battery storage, which when combined with solar power, make the home its own mini-power plant. For some homeowners this will mean no more trips to the gas station, and no more bills from the power company. Almost every economic projection out there on home automation, automobiles, and renewables says the same thing: a tsunami of change will hit an inflection point by 2030. In other words, the wave is coming.


Practically speaking, when our local community thrives, so does our business. The connection between a prosperous and livable community to property value and buyer demand is obvious. Quality of life matters. I prefer to focus on the opportunities when I say to brokers, agents, and homeowners, let’s create some abundance for ourselves while strapping on our super hero cape and boots, shall we? Happy Earth Day everyone!


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