4 Ways the Sustainability Niche Can Transform Your Business

There aren’t enough agents serving the green home market. Take these steps to own this segment of home buyers in your area.
Energy efficiency mobile app on tablet screen

© simpson33 - iStock/Getty Images Plus

Sustainability isn’t some ethereal concept that is good to know but that doesn’t really affect you. Having knowledge about green homes and the sustainable lifestyle is an attractive quality to clients searching for the savings benefits of energy efficiency—of which there are a lot these days. As a result, sustainability can actually be a business builder. Using the National Association of REALTORS®’ Sustainability and Resilience Plan as a blueprint, experts offered ways sustainability can bring tangible benefits to your business at a session Saturday during NAR NXT, The REALTOR® Experience in Orlando, Fla.

  1. NAR NXT logo
    Sustainability is an opportunity to outshine competitors. There aren’t enough agents serving the growing green home market, which means you can dominate this niche, said Craig Foley, chief sustainability officer at LAER Realty Partners in Melrose, Mass. Consumers are looking for agents who can explain the value of high-performance features like energy efficient windows and insulation, energy storage devices, and solar panels. Foley advised agents to get educated and obtain NAR’s GREEN designation or, if you’re a beginner, take a free introductory sustainability course at learning.realtor.
  2. You can be a gatekeeper of green home information. With the sustainable home market evolving rapidly, consumers can’t always find the information they need online. Agents have an opportunity to give clients information they can’t find anywhere else. Some consumers may still be operating on dated information from the 1970s and ’80s, when energy efficiency and sustainability often meant making big sacrifices, said Christopher Matos-Rogers, associate broker at Coldwell Banker Realty in Atlanta. High-performance homes, he said, actually mean an increase in comfort and luxury: “In this case, efficiency means a premium experience at a lower cost.”
  3. Green education can be an agent retention tool. Brokers who offer sustainability courses and training programs are providing a value-add that attracts agents to work with their company, Matos-Rogers said. He encouraged making education part of company culture, adding that brokers can educate agents on topics like tax incentives for sustainable housing. “You can help [agents] connect folks with available Inflation Reduction Act resources and rebate opportunities in their market,” said Matos-Rogers. “There’s something for everyone at every price point.”
  4. You can use sustainability expertise to affect policy change. Megan Sladek, broker-owner of SunFlorida Realty in Oviedo, Fla., shared her efforts to lobby her city’s planning board to include affordable, higher-density housing in their 10-year comprehensive plan. Increasing residential and commercial density improves both the sustainability of a community and creates a greater task base, said Joe Minicozzi, principal at development firm Urban3. He pointed to a recent rehab project his company took on, converting an office building into a mixed-use property. The assessed value of the building went from $300,000 to $11 million—an increase of 3,500% in taxable value. “As you stack stories, you’re stacking wealth,” said Minicozzi. 
The current edition of On Common Ground, a magazine covering smart growth, details the city of Oviedo’s success, and Sladek and Minicozzi urged attendees to get involved with their state and local associations to learn more about efforts to increase density, affordability and sustainability in their communities. Like Foley and Matos-Rogers, Sladek believes sustainability is the wave of the future: “Not changing is not a choice.”