November 2015 Newsletter

In This Issue

Sweet Statistics. Green Sells for a Premium
2016 GRC Benefits. What’s not to love?
Tap 2015 Green Tax Benefits 
Buyer Basics: Cozying Up to Smart Technology
Tips: Rule Your Attic

 

Newsletter Archive

Previous Issues

 

Sweet Statistics. Green Sells for a Premium

Homebuyers are both interested in high-performance homes and willing to pay more for them, according to "What is Green Worth? Unveiling High-Performance Home Premiums in Washington, D.C.” 

Homes with green features in Washington D.C. sell for a mean premium of 3.46 percent. 

That’s the most compelling result of a study that was written by Sandra Adomatis, SRA, LEED Green Associate, founder of Adomatis Appraisal Service, Punta Gorda, Fla., and released in October by the Institute for Market Transformation and the District of Columbia's Department of Energy and Environment.
 
The aim was to examine homes in Washington, D.C., to see how the addition of green features affects a home’s value and sale price. 

Stats you can use

Researchers looked at seven zip codes in the District and paired eight high-performance home (HPH) sales with three or more non-HPH sales to create a data set of 32 paired sales. 

Other key results include: 

  • Twenty-nine pairs of the 32 support the existence of green premiums, and the remaining three offered inconclusive results. 
  • Nineteen of the 32 paired sales had premiums between 2 and 5 percent
  • Three of the eight HPHs benefited from solar photovoltaic systems, though one system was a common building amenity and not owned by the individual unit. 
  • Six of the eight HPHs had third-party certifications from LEED and two non-certified were still found to have green premiums. 
  • None of the HPH sales had green reports attached to their MLS listings, nor did they include actual or estimated energy costs. The limited MLS information reinforces the importance of consistent, complete green data in the MLS. 

“The Washington, D.C. study was exciting to see unfold. This year, several studies have been completed across the country, and we can say that there is a trend occurring in the markets studied, says Adomatis. “I think we can positively say that green is not a fad.”

Read the complete report here.

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I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape -- the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." - Andrew Wyeth

 

 

2016 GRC Benefits. What’s not to love?

 

What you do is important. Green concepts and high-performance homes continue to gain prominence among mainstream consumers looking to improve the efficiency of their lives and homes. 

Armed with your NAR Green Designation, you’re in a terrific position to grab the green business in your community. 

Enhancing your business

Each year, the Green REsource Council takes a look at how to help you layer your green expertise into your business plan. 

For 2016, we’ve added some key new benefits designed to enhance your marketing, your knowledge, and your social media presence so you can build a prosperous business. 

Education

What’s new?

Refreshed Green Courses -- The Green program recently was revamped to reflect the reality on the ground. That is, the content is more tightly focused on existing homes – the 90 percent of the housing stock that comprise the bulk of GRC members’ businesses. 

The two-course sequence concentrates on building a knowledge base that lets you participate in this market niche as a specialization or as a complement to your core real estate business. 

The content emphasizes objective, quantifiable information and prepares you to help homeowners improve their homes, whether they’re interested in low-cost, DIY fixes or big-budget remodeling projects. 

Ongoing

  • Webinars – Continue looking to the GRC’s Webinars to keep you informed on building science, marketing strategies, consumer research, and industry developments. 
  • The REsource Newsletter – Profiles, marketing know-how, and expert insight give you the in-depth business knowledge to help you succeed. And regular consumer-oriented content helps you to help homeowners interested in saving money and increasing the comfort and performance of their properties. 
  • NAR’s Green Designation Networking Community – The Facebook group is a safe place where you can meet up with fellow members, learn from others’ expertise, and figure out ways to overcome your business challenges. 

Marketing

What’s new?

Refreshed branded member brochures will help you better market your green know-how to the wide variety of clients that you encounter on a day-to-day basis. And new banners for your websites and e-mail headers and footers will help you grab their attention. 

Ongoing

Customizable postcards – A series of customizable postcards helps you market your business and lets potential buyers and sellers know who to turn to for answers about green living and for
advice about their next real estate transaction. 

Print shop – The web-based print shop make designing, printing, and mailing your brochures and postcards a cinch. Choose from numerous campaign themes and customize your materials with your photo, contact information, and logos. 

Press release templates –When you want to cheer about something and spread the word about the value of your NAR's Green Designation, the press release template helps you get your message to news outlets quickly and easily. 

Outreach and social engagement 

What’s new?

Expect a new crop of green client hand-outs that help consumers understand green basics. It’s a tool that saves you time when you need to get clients up to speed on green principles. 

Ongoing

Pre-written content -- Continue looking to the GRC for fresh and timely blog, Facebook and Twitter content to enhance your social media presence. 

Our commitment 

You can count on the GRC to keep delivering tools for education, social engagement and client outreach that will let you spend your precious time building your business, networking, and making money, rather than on wordsmithing, hunting for the best printing deals, or struggling to create relevant content. 

So really, what’s not to love? 

Renew your GRC membership now at http://greenresourcecouncil.org/members/renew-membership. If you do it by 11:50 p.m. on December 31, 2015, you’ll automatically receive a 5% discount.  

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Tap 2015 Green Tax Benefits

You’ve got a few more weeks left in the year to scrounge up some last-minute savings for your 2015 tax bill. 

The federal incentives that were available to ease the cost of many common home upgrades, such as new windows and doors, have now expired. 

But you’re in luck if you’re in the market for more significant systems that can transform your property into a high-performance home. 

The tax credits cover solar electric systems, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps, and fuel cells. 

Here’s some basic information on what’s available. 

Systems: 
•    Geothermal heat pumps
•    Small residential wind turbines
•    Solar energy systems

Credit: 30% of the cost. No upper limit.

What qualifies: Existing homes and new construction qualify, as do principal residences and second homes. Rentals don’t. 

Expiration date: December 31, 2016

System:
Fuel Cells (Residential fuel cell and microturbine system) 

Credit: 30% of the cost, up to $500 per .5 KW of power capacity

What qualifies: Existing homes and new construction are covered if the property is a principal residence. Second homes and rentals don’t qualify. 

Expiration date: December 31, 2016

The fine print

As you’d do with any major home project, be sure to understand the fine print to be certain your property qualifies for the tax credits. 

In addition, talk with experts, including building and real estate professionals and your accountant (see the Internal Revenue document), to be sure your house is a good candidate for a given system and that the investment will bring you the desired results. 

State and local incentives

Don’t overlook rebates, discounts, and freebies offered by your state and local governments. Depending on where you live, those incentives could be abundant. 

For example, if you live in Maine, you could qualify for incentives for everything from insulation and pellet stoves, to reduced prices on LEDs and CFLs.

Customers of ComEd in Illinois can tap free home energy assessments and get rebates on thermostats, appliances, and on insulation and sealing projects. The company also will cart off old fridges and freezers and hand over $50. 

And Alabama residents who use Alagasco can receive rebates when they switch from electric to natural gas for furnaces and water heaters. 

Quickly find incentives in your state by searching the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
 
Insurance breaks 

Another way to save is by checking in with your home insurer. Some insurance companies offer discounts for smart home monitoring (see “Buyer Basics: Cozying Up to Smart Technology” in this month’s newsletter) technology. 

Green wheels

If you’re in the market for a new car, check this site to learn about the available tax credits for hybrids and electric vehicles. 

Also keep in mind that your state may offer perks for driving green cars. In California, for instance, drivers of some ultra-efficient cars can access restricted carpool lanes. 

Additional resources

Learn more about green cars and research models at: 
•    www.greenercars.org
•    www.greencarreports.com

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Buyer Basics: Cozying Up to Smart Technology

You’ve done many of the physical projects – maybe adding attic insulation and caulking and sealing around windows and doors -- needed to make your house cozier this winter. 

Now take a look at some of the smart technology that can make your house even more comfortable and save you some money throughout this long season. 

Here are five ideas. 

1.    Programmable thermostats. It’s a good practice kick back the thermostat when you’re out. But who wants to come home to a chilly house? Try installing a programmable thermostat, which lets you schedule when the furnace turns on and off based on your occupancy habits. When used correctly, programmable thermostats could save you $180 each year.  More high-tech, versions, like the Nest  (https://nest.com/thermostat/meet-nest-thermostat), learn the daily routine of your household – times when you come and go -- so you don’t even have to bother programming it reduce the temperature when you leave at 7:45 a.m. 

2.    Smart lights. A number of technologies have revolutionized how you manage your home lighting. Smart switches allow to monitor your energy usage, schedule your electronic devices, and control them all on the fly with a smartphone. The Belkin WeMo Switch www.belkin.com/us/F7C027-Belkin/p/P-F7C027/ is one such option and it gives you remote control over whatever you plug into the switch. 

Occupancy sensors

Because it’s so dark all winter, the natural response often is to keep lights on even in rooms that you’re not using. Occupancy sensors and dimmers can cut your lighting costs. Sensors, for example will automatically turn lights on and off when you enter or exit a room, and they’re especially effective in infrequently used spaces. 

Mood lighting

The flat, gray winter landscape gets dull. LEDs featuring changeable colors can illuminate your spaces to suit your mood, whether you want cool blues, sultry reds or soothing greens. And they can be controlled from a smartphone. Phillips, Lutron, and several other companies offer these energy efficient LEDs. 

3.    Ceiling fans: During summer, fans blow cool breezes. If you reverse the fan, it pushes warm air down into the room. 

4.    Holiday LEDs. Are you still hanging onto your old strings of holiday lights, reasoning that since you only use them for a couple weeks a year, they’re fine? Toss them. 

LED holiday lights use 70 percent less energy that traditional incandescent ones, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means lighting a six-foot-tall tree for 12 hours per day for 40 days will cost about $0.27 with LEDs versus $10 with the old lights. Yes, the savings seem inconsequential. But with habit changes and energy upgrades, every small step contributes to the larger savings you’re looking for. 

5.    Power shower. There’s nothing like a hot shower to warm you up after sledding or shoveling snow. Aim for shorter, better showers. Low-flow shower heads allow you to accomplish both. 

Today’s efficient shower heads aren’t like the wimpy ones of the old days. You get full power and high performance without the excessive water waste. 
 

Explore your options at WaterSense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s campaign to promote water efficiency. It lists vetted plumbing fixtures that save water and money. 

But using a new shower head doesn’t mean that you can stand under the water for 45 minutes and still expect to save. WaterPebble U.S.A., a high-tech shower timer, moves you more quickly to the rinse-and-get-out phase. The gadget gives you a heads-up when you’re halfway through your shower, when you should finish, and then it gradually weans you from long showers. 

Additional resources 

Privacy: If you’ve shied away from installing smart technology because of privacy concerns, here’s a checklist  to help you keep your data private and secure when you buy a house equipped with smart devices. 

Energy IQ: If you’re still getting up to speed on home energy efficiency, test your knowledge and learn more about efficiency solutions at Energy.gov.

 

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This Month's Tips: Rule Your Attic 

Energy Star says that 90% of American homes are under-insulated, meaning that 9 out of 10 U.S. homeowners are wasting money on energy. 

Here are three home improvement projects, along with video how-tos, that you can do to save energy this winter. 

1. Seal the electrical box 
2. Seal around plumbing pipes
3. Seal recessed lights  

For more ways to save, see Energy Star’s “Rule Your Attic” campaign.

 

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All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau unless otherwise noted

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