|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Buying Green

    EcoBrokers help buyers and sellers navigate a new, green world
  • Juggling the myriad factors that go into choosing the right house can be mind-boggling. Along with standard requirements like the number of bedrooms, neighborhood location and schools, amenities like granite counter tops and spa bathrooms can tip the decision to buy.
    • email print
  • Juggling the myriad factors that go into choosing the right house can be mind-boggling. Along with standard requirements like the number of bedrooms, neighborhood location and schools, amenities like granite counter tops and spa bathrooms can tip the decision to buy.
    Now, with increasing interest in "green" living, a new market factor has entered the mix: energy efficiency and sustainability. Beyond attic insulation and Energy Star appliances, many purchasers are clueless about these topics.
    That's where an EcoBroker steps into the picture.
    EcoBrokers are real estate professionals who have gone through an 18-hour class covering the latest and greatest in green building science. After they pass a certification test, they must continue with annual education to keep their designation, says Kerry Zook, an EcoBroker with Full Circle Real Estate in Ashland.
    "So much is changing. What you knew a year ago needs updating," says Zook.
    "I've always had an interest in a sustainable world," says Zook about her motivation to take the course. "I try to live fairly green myself, so I thought it would be a good way to share information with other people."
    Similar motivation prompted Medford's Exit Realty broker Don McCoy, who became the first EcoBroker in Jackson County four years ago. "When I first saw it, I knew it was exactly what I needed," he says.
    EcoBroker's online program (www.ecobroker.com) informs brokers about the latest in environmentally sound building technology, and McCoy credits it with revitalizing his interest in real estate.
    He had two big "aha" moments during the training, he says.
    He realized "we can build homes a lot better than we have been building them," such as including healthful materials and using energy-saving techniques. Some people are made ill by the off-gassing in new homes, says McCoy, "and they don't even know why they are sick."
    The second "aha" came when he learned how much momentum other parts of the country had. "Jackson County was way behind," says McCoy. Even behind Oregon communities like Bend, Eugene and neighboring Grants Pass.
    EcoBrokers are trained to analyze homes in a number of categories — among them are appliances and construction, building materials, insulation, landscaping, lighting and home orientation — which helps them make an assessment for buyers, says Zook. They also list properties both on the Multiple Listing Service and EcoBroker Web sites.
    A green analysis can be done on any property, she says, including older homes not listed as "green." Buyers willing to retrofit existing homes can use an EcoBroker's help to analyze suitable properties, she says. Clients who are looking for property to build a green home can use agents who know where to look for buildable land, she says.
    Zook credits the training with putting her in touch with a network of professionals and tradespeople who know how to retrofit and test for healthy homes. This is more important when "greenwashing" — exaggerating the earth-friendly characteristics of goods or services — is used as a marketing tool.
    "Amenities still sell, but more important are energy efficiency and low utility bills," says McCoy. "They are a better value, and homes that have them command better prices."
    A recent report done by Seattle-based GreenWorks Realty shows that green homes command up to 25 percent more on the market, McCoy says.
    "Ninety percent of people are looking for something healthy and environmentally friendly. It's impressive," says Zook. "Green is not seen as 'weird' anymore.
    "It's not trying to force green down people's throats; it's about educating."
    McCoy has put the knowledge gained through the EcoBroker program into creating other programs that benefit builders and buyers in the Rogue Valley. He's a co-organizer for the Oregon Green Expo, scheduled for May 18-20 at the Medford National Guard Armory. Many professionals in the industry will be on hand, and visitors can get an idea of today's green-building science. See www.theoregongreenexpo.com for information.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar