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Five very full days in Orlando at NAR Annual 2012 creates a full slate of new ideas, opportunities and new thinking about old obstacles. Here are my Top 10 ideas and questions for finding natural ways to blend energy efficiency and real estate:
- REthink Future. Do you know where your business is going to be in 2017? 2022? Well, NAR is working on just such a vision. Amidst the chaos of the housing crisis and new market entrants, NAR is actively working to define the space, partners and even "frenemies" for real estate in the future. Where does efficiency fit?
- REthink Gen Y. REthink Future focused quite a bit on Gen Y which will be the next big wave of homebuyers. The emerging picture is a savvy group of home buyers who believe that home ownership is a privilege earned, and that stability is the goal. Energy efficiency fits right into the value proposition for serving both Gen Y, as well as buyers who will come back to the market after the sting of foreclosure. How can our industries serve their needs together?
- Speaking of...What if "frenemies" (see point #1 above) were able to serve needs together (point #2) to redefine the real estate industry? That's the sort of inspiration NAR is hoping to create through its REach technology accelerator. How can efficiency be deployed to improve the home buying process?
- NAR the compromiser? In recent times the message from NAR to energy efficiency has come across loud and clear: stay out of our way, and don't mess with our transaction. Efficiency has backed away and is exploring how to drive demands at other housing trigger points. A bright spot - there were a few focus groups at Annual about Mortgage Interest Deduction. One attendee mentioned to me that they were asked about options where MID might be reduced in order to preserve some of it. An interesting sign of a more collaborative NAR? Or savviness to find the win in a new place?
- Hungry for info. For the second year in a row, BPI participated in a popular session on general building science. This year, over 75 Realtors packed the room for Behind the Walls: House Secrets Revealed. I think this is a strong demonstration that building science is a compelling topic, but it has to be presented in an approachable way.
- Hungry for info, Part 2. The Expo rocked for four days, with nearly 400 exhibitors in categories from home inspectors to closing gift to web providers. NAR Green does an outstanding job of recruiting traffic to the centrally located Green Pavilion. The area was just screaming for booths explaining how building science can enhance the home-buying and move-in process, and demonstrating the tools that provide resources to consumers today. There's no excuse not to exhibit next year, or at your local or state Realtor conference!
- Open thinking? I attended the Land Use & Environment Committee meeting as a guest. The committee voted to end its forum, which I assume at one point had been held to understand issues brewing in the field. I think this is a disappointing change in an area where there are always multiple and often conflicting views. Instead, the Committee will sponsor educational conference sessions. This is in contrast to the MLS Committee which hosted a forum, followed immediately by committee. For example, a contentious issue (social media policy) was presented by subject-matter experts in forum, followed by Q&A. The committee chair clearly defined the difference between forum discussion and committee proceedings which empowered the committee to best reflect industry needs in their approvals.
- Facts or Fiction? Another disappointment in the Land Use & Environment Committee was in the misinformation presented both by attendees and staff. In one case the Department of Energy's Home Energy Score was criticized based on characteristics of a behavioral score, rather than as the asset score that it is. The Green MLS effort in Colorado, which has been widely-touted for its strong design and requirement of document backups, was also criticized.
- Face the fire. Energy efficiency was not the only hot topic criticized in committee meetings. The topic of mandatory fire sprinklers came up in the State & Local Issues Committee. Still, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition was active at the conference, with a full-page ad each day in the show newspaper, and an exhibit.
- Education is key. As a member of NAR's Green REsource Advisory Board, I have a chance to support the green education offering for Realtors. With the market picking up and a course that is expected to qualify for Continuing Education licensing requirements in nearly 40 states, 2013 should be a strong year!
Reprinted with permission. See original article at http://www.notyetgreen.com/?p=1920