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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Working with A ‘Green’ Real Estate Agent: Here's how and why it makes a difference, says real estate pro Jan Green

Apr 01, 2015 08:46AM ● By Jan Green

Real estate agents offer services when homeowners need to buy or sell a home, and each has their own marketing tools, tips and tricks—including the advantages of enlisting the services of a “green” agent that has undertaken the course of study to either become an EcoBroker or a National Association of Realtors (NAR) GREEN designee.

A green agent is trained to recognize, market and consult about sustainable and energy-efficient features. Defining these to buyers and sellers helps homeowners make more educated decisions as to cost savings on utility bills, assisting with health-related issues and a better return on investment. A green agent is trained to gain the most value for a home with these features during the sales process.

During the initial interview with a buyer, questions are asked about chemical sensitivity and interests in energy-efficient features. According to a 2001 NAR study, nine out of 10 consumers are concerned about energy costs, so these issues are important to consumers and should be addressed by agents with this training.

During the inspection period, an energy audit is offered as an extra step to determine what deficiencies exist over and above a traditional home inspection. Home sellers can order the energy audit and be reimbursed by the buyer for this information. This leads to full disclosure of nearly every aspect of the home, which is a lot more than a normal home inspection.

Selling a home with green and energy-efficient features requires unique knowledge and marketing expertise to convey the value and importance of these features to the public. Homes with solar panels require a specific process in order to gain any value for them at the point of sale. Utility bills before and after solar, solar leases and any energy-efficient and sustainable features are uploaded onto the multiple listing service (MLS) for buyers and appraiser to view. If a home has a leased solar system, the buyer must qualify for that lease with a minimal FICO score, depending on the leasing company.

Homes with owned solar panels can gain value at the point of sale, while homes with leased systems typically provide no additional value and are considered personal property. It’s important to understand both components to manage these expectations for homeowners. Specific steps are also required for homeowners to gain value for energy-efficient, sustainable and solar features. If these steps aren’t followed, there is no guarantee that proper value will be provided.

It’s important to pre-qualify appraisers before they arrive at the home by asking if they are familiar with the area and with these types of features. If not, then the agent needs to contact the lender to request another appraiser. Once the appraiser arrives at the home, they should be provided with a feature list, utility bills, contract, comparable sales, copy of the contract and the Green and Energy Efficient Addendum to record the features and attach to the appraisal. Armed with this data, an appraiser can work to gain as much value for the home as possible.

Providing value-added service for homes with green and energy-efficient features requires skill and knowledge that is above and beyond the normal real estate agent’s scope, unless that agent has a construction background.

Jan GreenJan Green is a certified EcoBroker and holds the National Association of Realtor's GREEN designation, with RE/MAX Excalibur Realty. Contact her at 602-620-2699 or GotGreen.info.

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