If the home performance industry had an online dating profile, it would likely be looking for someone with a great network of friends that he could get to know. Home performance would also be looking for someone with a rich history (like himself), good looks that go beyond the surface, and someone who may be able to get some of his friends a job (hey, not everything in a relationship is about romance). Someone like the real estate market, for example. Unfortunately for home performance’s dating life, it seems that he hasn’t yet found the right matchmaker.
And I’m not the only one who thinks that home performance and real estate are perfect for each other. In fact, just last week, PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco, California held a course titled “Green Homes: Valuation and Financing for Realtors and Appraisers.” On my way to the full-day class, I was thinking about the relationship between the two industries. Although I had a hunch that realtors and appraisers weren’t as in tune with the green homes market as say our readers are, it wasn’t until I was actually sitting in the classroom that I truly realized the lack of connection the two had in the “real world.”
One of the presenters, Debra Little (of Debra Little Sustainable Design) approached the group of appraisers, agents, and realtors with this question: “How many of you have ever heard of a home performance contractor?” I was the only person that raised my hand. After I was excluded from participation, she asked, “How many of you have heard of Energy Upgrade California?” Not a single hand went up. Lastly, she asked, “How many of you have worked with or heard of an Energy Efficient Mortgage?” Not a single person.
Now, I know that this one classroom isn’t necessarily representative of the industry as a whole; however, it would seem that the people in attendance are ahead of the curve.
Honestly, I was impressed they were there. They had come to the professional realization that green homes were becoming more and more vital to their industry. They also likely were striving to fulfill the seemingly niche market that green home appraisals are in. In other words, they wanted to learn how to value eco-friendly upgrades and renovations so they could sell homes quickly and for more money. Makes sense to me.
Over the course of the day, we learned about energy efficient rebates, Energy Star appliances, energy efficient mortgages, green certifications, the leasing of solar panels, and even building science. We learned about energy benefits, and almost more importantly to homebuyers, non-energy benefits. Needless to say, the group came away with a ton of helpful information. What’s more is that we all learned a bit more about each other’s industries. It was the equivalent of a first date, of which was set up by the presenters at the Pacific Energy Center. (I imagined it going a little something like this: “Home performance, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine…I think you’ll really like her.”)
As Debra Little explained to me in a conversation during lunch, appraisers, realtors, and agents haven’t yet seen a lot of green homes on the market because the people that spend the money on energy efficient upgrades stay in their homes much longer. They’re comfortable and they pay less in utilities to keep it that way, so they’re not selling just yet. However, as energy efficiency gains mainstream traction, real estate professionals need to be able to understand the value of these upgrades and retrofits. Soon (hopefully), energy efficient homes won't be an exception, rather they'll be the rule. But for now, it's realtors, appraisers, and agents that stand in a prime position with homeowners. They have the numbers (roughly 3,000,000 people are in the real estate industry), and are constantly face-to-face with homeowners, giving them a wonderful opportunity to pass along the value of energy efficiency. This makes the real estate industry extremely important to home performance professionals.
There’s no telling exactly when a second date will be but I have another hunch that this relationship is going to get pretty serious.
For more information on free classes at PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center, visit their website.