Happy Earth Day! Think Green...Real Estate

"We put in a $35,000 solar heating system and when we sold our home, we didn't get our money back on it; the buyers didn't care!"

Kathy Rasmussens heard that all-too-common sad tale at a seminar recently, but that doesn't discourage her. The budding "green agent" - a sales representative with CENTURY 21 Offord Realty in Collingwood, ON - says the public's perceived value of eco-friendly homes and features is starting to change.

"It used to cost you money to save energy," she says, recalling the high costs of setup and maintenance of eco-friendly systems in the past.

But those costs have come down, as have the cost of materials - and on top of that, the government is giving homebuyers and sellers a big push in the right (eco) direction.

Kathy sees lots of reasons why homeowners should, and will, care more about energy efficiencies in the very near future. And she's in the process of being accredited by the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) to get ready for the shift.

What Does an Energy-Efficient Home Look Like?

"I want to help people be able to identify what an energy-efficient home looks like," she says. ""I like to help people who are selling, too" - such as teaching them how to get government grants for upgrades and retrofits.

The Ontario Government intends to pass the Green Energy Act so that, by 2012, all homes - new and resale - will have to have an energy efficiency rating when sold. Anyone selling a house or low-rise building would have to disclose the results of a home energy audit to prospective buyers. The law would start as early as next year for all newly built homes, and 2011 for resale houses.

Right now, the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program will pay you back up to half ($150) of the cost of an energy audit of your home - from basement to attic - and then pay you up to $10,000 for any retrofits needed. 

Walk the Talk

Kathy realizes that "what will make this stick for homeowners is if the government gives your home a bad energy rating and it affects your selling price,"she notes.

She "walks the talk' in her personal life as the owner of an Energy Star home in the only subdivision in Collingwood, ON that offers those kinds of houses. "Our gas and electrical bills have gone down, and we haven't changed our habits at all."

The NAGAB, a not-for-profit organization made up of 17,000 affiliated members across Canada, defines "Greenrealestate™" as "the business of making home energy conservation an intrinsic part of everyday life through the marketing and sales of more energy efficient new and resale homes." The goals are to:

  • Reduce monthly home energy costs

  • Increase the sales prices of certified homes

  • Reduce energy waste through increased energy conservation

  • Reduce energy reliance on offshore interests

NAGAB.org provides a Home Energy Conservation Kit for homeowners with a checklist to carry around their homes assessing any energy waste and cost-saving opportunities.

The association has named Breanne Rodriguez as its Green Agent of the Month on the NAGAB site; she and her "green real estate team" Century 21 Alliance Real Estate in Lethbridge, Alberta, call themselves "Eco-Agents."
As Kathy Rasmussen notes, "We are selling more homes than ever with energy-efficient features, and when it comes to home renovations these days , most people are thinking energy savings."

Definitely something to think about this Earth Day.

Are you doing anything special for Earth Day today - relating to your home (or otherwise)? Share it with us below in comments section.

1 Comment

  1. william (bill) Rorabeck 04/25/2009 at 1:52 PM

    Kudos to agents like Kathy Rasmussens of Collingwood; Don Ross of Picton and all who have either signed on with www.nagab.org or better still are really "walking the talk".
    Our industry had lagged behind, often putting economic goals alone ahead of collatoral considerations; and yet nurturing respect and appreciation of the environment is the 'job 1' that will give us the greatest long term returns. That work is in everyone's best interest.
    A green agent; today, is both responsible to our habitat and in touch with the market place.

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