ARCHIVED  January 29, 2010

FCBR searches for value of green realty data

FORT COLLINS – James W. Mitchell was about as green as they come. He’d only had his real estate license for a month when he walked into the Fort Collins Board of Realtors office and told his colleagues they should have a sustainability position. The recent Colorado State University graduate wanted to translate the green values he’d learned at the school’s Everitt Real Estate Center into practice.

“It’s the direction real estate is moving, but I realized I had to figure out how to sell real estate first,´ said Mitchell, a broker at The Group Inc.’s Mulberry office. “I started getting the word into ears around town, and it had a good energy around it.”

This month — thanks to Mitchell’s incitement — the board launched a sustainability committee charged with raising awareness by educating members and, in turn, their customers. The committee is also leading an effort to create tangible value for qualities like energy efficiency and air quality by bringing green measurements into the MLS system.

“We started reaching out around the country to see if there are other committees like this in other boards,” explained FCBR Executive Vice President Clint Skutchan. “We realized this was unique and it wasn’t being done anywhere. It got us really excited to set a trend and become a national leader.”

Chaired by Mitchell, the committee’s first order of business — after a mission statement — will be honoring a Green Realtor of the Year and Green Office of the Year, and holding a recycling challenge in May. In the long-term, the committee hopes to work with the Everitt Center and the regional MLS to determine a baseline for voluntarily incorporating energy efficiency as a measurement in the MLS data. They’d also like to study energy efficiency data against home sale data in order to determine and educate real estate agents as to the value of energy efficient homes.

“We want to go beyond talk to where we’re demonstrating value and educating people on making good energy decisions,” Skutchan said.

Responsible remodels

Everyone on the board has a Green or EcoBroker designation, and they have clients for whom efficiency is a decision maker.

“We want to educate realtors as to the benefits of responsible remodels,” Mitchell said. “If you’re going to sell your home, if you change your countertops to granite or if you replace all of your windows, which will give you a better return and why? People tend to ask: what does sustainability mean, what does green mean, how green is green? So, one of our first tasks is creating quantifiable metrics for what this means.”

Lara Williams, founder of Green Team Real Estate in Fort Collins, says that won’t be an easy task. “It’s going to be hard to gather data because there still are not a lot of homes locally that have truly made the transition,” she said. “With existing homes, it’s a lot harder to gather the information. I’m curious to see how that information is going to be captured. It is going to be challenging, for sure.”

And worthwhile, she says. Williams wasn’t even a member of FCBR when she heard from Mitchell, her former intern, about the sustainability committee. She’s since paid her dues and volunteered to serve on the committee.

Being a “green” real estate professional, she said, is about not only having training and education in sustainability, but being able to help clients understand its value.

“A lot of people come to me with a vague idea of wanting to have a green house,” Williams said. “My job is to figure out what that means for each person.”

Going forward, she thinks the market is going to appreciate upgrades more. She’s read national stats claiming every $1 a homeowner puts into a sustainability improvement results in $20 of value. “I have yet to see that in this market, but I think as long as it’s properly marketed, I think they will realize that value down the road.”

Wave of the future

Another issue is lining up what a buyer appreciates with how appraisers assign value. Williams said appraisers have been behind the sustainability curve but she’s starting to see that change. When she became focused on green real estate in 2006, it was still very rare for brokers to care about sustainability. Now, as more clients demand that expertise, brokers are realizing they have to get with the trend, too.

“[Mitchell] is part of a new wave of younger real estate agents who aren’t stuck in old practices, old ways of thinking,” Williams said. “It’s really great what he’s doing and I’m excited to take part.”

Mitchell said his goal is to have some quantifiable data this year — and to make Fort Collins a national leader in sustainable real estate. He’s confident that the data will support what he’s been seeing anecdotally.

“One of the major myths is that it costs exponentially more to build an efficient home,” he said.  “Dispelling that myth is something we can do.”

While agents look for a way to measure sustainability, the city of Fort Collins is in the process of developing green building standards for new homes that would be in place by early 2011.

FORT COLLINS – James W. Mitchell was about as green as they come. He’d only had his real estate license for a month when he walked into the Fort Collins Board of Realtors office and told his colleagues they should have a sustainability position. The recent Colorado State University graduate wanted to translate the green values he’d learned at the school’s Everitt Real Estate Center into practice.

“It’s the direction real estate is moving, but I realized I had to figure out how to sell real estate first,´ said Mitchell, a broker at The Group Inc.’s Mulberry office. “I started getting…

Related Content