In its annual report and survey on all things green this year, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) continues to find practicality, interest and representation in the environmentally conscious real estate sector—though the perceived value of green features and information about them seems to still be lacking in some areas.
At the highest level—and most relevant to the average real estate professional— sustainable and green real estate transactions are becoming more common, with nearly twice as many agents and brokers reporting they were involved in one of these transactions in 2022 compared to six years ago, and jumping 18% from last year.
“More and more as climate change is accepted by science, and people are really seeing it in their day-to-day lives, people are getting on board that they need to be doing something,” Arlene Baxter, a REALTOR® at Red Oak Realty, told RISMedia last year. “Now finally we are getting to the point where sustainable homes, efficient homes are financially efficient.”
The 2022 Sustainability Report is the sixth iteration of NAR’s survey of REALTORS® assessing the nationwide state of green real estate—what is available, what is desirable and what people know about. Delving into everything from the ubiquity of solar panels to the perceived threats from extreme weather, the report found some of the same issues have persisted in the sector even as it has expanded significantly.
Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, said in a statement that the increased focus on sustainability in recent years is a win-win for all homeowners.
“More sustainable homes bring benefits to homeowners like cost savings from energy efficiency, health benefits from improved indoor air quality, and increased comfort and durability from material use and construction, and may also increase resale value,” Lautz said.
One of the themes in both this year’s report and data gathered over the last half-decade is that REALTORS® are not sure just how important green features are to the bottom line.
In the 2022 survey, 56% of respondents said they were “not sure” if a high-performance home had a measurable increase in its dollar value. The same percentage said they didn’t know if their MLS had green data fields and 46% said they weren’t sure whether green-certified homes spent more or less time on the market.
All of these responses roughly align with previous iterations of the survey.
Wayne Beals, a broker in the Chicago area who also spoke to RISMedia last year on the subject of green homes, said that consumers are growing more interested in them and REALTORS® will be tasked with catching up.
“We have to learn new things—we have to learn how to insulate a house better, how to tell the difference between a double pane window and triple pane window, how a heat pump works,” he said. “It’s going to eventually translate into the real estate industry.”
Consumers continue to express significant interest in green features—starting with how it can save them money. More than half (51%) of respondents said their clients are somewhat or very interested in sustainability features, and 71% said that utility bills and operation costs were at least somewhat important to clients.
Issues identified by respondents as the most important considerations in the green real estate market remain almost entirely unchanged from six years ago, with “understanding lending options for energy upgrades or solar installations” as the top issue, and questions about the valuation and impact of solar panels taking the next two spots in both 2017 and 2022.
“Sustainability continues to play a growing role in consumers’ purchasing decisions, and this is becoming even more prevalent in the real estate market,” said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a REALTOR® from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas. “With the residential property market, in particular, home buyers have expressed increased interest in eco-friendly factors like solar panels and energy efficiency.”
Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents said a lack of information provided to REALTORS® was a major issue in the green market.
A new question posed this year asked if clients were worried about the broad effects of climate change on a property, with 19% saying these issues were either somewhat or very important to clients.
Another series of questions asked in the last three editions of the survey, but not the first three, dealt with extreme weather. In 2022, respondents actually reported less concern from clients than when the question was first asked in 2020, when 49% were at least somewhat concerned about those events. Only 34% reported clients being concerned about extreme weather this year.
To view the full report, click here.
Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas, firstname.lastname@example.org.