Green things you can do to a home came up in a discussion I had with a realtor today. Our conversation started when I asked her if she was interested in "green" or if her clients were interested in "green." Her response was "no" to both. I can understand as I really wasn't interested until my heath was affected, then discovered the home environment was contributing to my health challenges.
In sharing my story, her response was, "My client's child has asthma which is getting worse as the rental they're in has mold from water underneath it."
I continued to share more points about green homes that might benefit realtors in becoming a resource for their clients to support them in finding and living in eco buildings. This, in turn, will endear clients to realtors, keeping them "top of mind" when doing anything with their homes. This isn't just good marketing and customer service - it's the right thing to do. This is building client-centered businesses.
Within the principles of green we can break it down into five environmental areas:
- Energy Efficiency
- Indoor Air Quality
- Water Conservation
- Resource Conservation
- Community Design
For today, let me give a brief overview of each of these areas to get us started. I think you'll see in some ways a buyer is already thinking "eco housing" even though they don't specifically call it that.
Energy efficiency can be a house that is designed for the climate. A house in the mountains where it snows will usually have an A-frame roof to keep the snow from adhering to it. This home has been "designed for the climate." That's one example. Another would be the type of windows used in the design, the lighting and Energy Star appliances.
We all know women look at the kitchen appliances, although they may not be checking to see if they are Energy Star. We can help them to understand how that might lower their energy costs.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is where the conversation went with this realtor. The asthma could be exacerbated by the mold, toxic fumes from paint, wood-buring fireplaces or carpeting - to name a few. Many buyers want wood-burning fireplaces or put in new carpeting. Educating them to be able to make better purchasing, design and decorating decisions may improve the health of family members.
Water conservation has implications both indoors and outdoors. Water is getting more expensive. A recent presentation I attended stated that some municipalities will not have enough water for their communities by 2013. That's almost here.
Low-flow showerheads, aerators on faucets and water-conserving toilets are part of the tools used inside. Mulching, minimizing turf and native vegetation are some solutions for outdoors. Many buyers want the lawns while others don't want to take care of a yard. These are elements buyers are already considering, they just might be communicating it through "lifestyle choices" rather than "green."
Realtors may not be concerned with resource conservation issues unless construction is involved. Considering where materials originate or how the deconstruction is managed usually becomes the role of a contractor or building professional. If you know about waste diversion and material choices, you'll be distinguishing yourself as a knowledgeable source who goes above and beyond - more than just "someone who helps buys and sells houses."
Community design is the last area we'll discuss. What are the three words you hear in relation to buying a home?
Location! Location! Location!
Those three words cover so much including end-units in townhouse and condo complexes to "hillside with a view." Many of today's buyers are wanting a sense of "community". The mixed use developments provide housing within walking distance of retail stores, restaurants and recreation.
When asked why one person might chose one home over another, it's often away from trains and highways. But it's usually within walking distance of a Starbuck's, gym or gathering spot - or close to a transit system that will take them to these.
Human beings generally like to have a sense of community. That comes down to "Location. Location. Location."
Maybe clients are thinking green, just not saying the words. They're not familiar with the jargon, yet they want the qualities. Or maybe they are interested, but haven't put it into words.
A few key points or words brought up in conversations with individuals may help you connect on a deeper, more personal level with potential clients. It also just might help the planet while helping these people.