Under All Is the Land

By: Emily Chenevert, CEO of the Austin Board of REALTORS® and ACTRIS MLS serving Central Texas

One of the highest callings of a REALTOR® is the “wise utilization [of land] … for the preservation of a healthful environment.” As champions for homeownership and stewards of our communities, REALTORS® are uniquely positioned to connect their clients to green building practices, making homeownership more affordable, and protecting the quality of life in our communities.

Green buildings are increasingly what consumers are looking for, too. According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2022 REALTORS® and Sustainability Report, over half of REALTORS® surveyed have helped clients buy or sell a home with green features, up from 32% in 2021. In addition, 51% said that their clients were somewhat or very interested in sustainability.

It’s more important than ever for REALTOR® associations to educate members—and, in turn, their clients—on the value and accessibility of green building practices. The best way we can make that happen is through the MLS.

Going Green in the MLS:Three Best Practices

In 2008, the ACTRIS MLS was one of the first MLSs in the country to launch data fields that captured energy efficiency, insulation, and green building ratings. We now have 100-plus RESO-compliant data points dedicated to green energy and sustainability in our listing input forms.

Green MLS input fields help us capture the breadth and depth of conservation and sustainability of a property as soon as a listing is entered into the MLS. Within ACTRIS MLS alone, green data points were included in more than 3,000 listings throughout 2021. Our subscribers can search for properties based on criteria from any of the green input fields and use the historical data from sales to help consumers better price the features of these properties. If you’re interested in greening up your MLS, these three best practices can keep sustainability and environmental stewardship top of mind for your members.

No. 1: Standardize Your Data

If your MLS has not yet adopted RESO standards, you should ask why. Along with API integration, data standardization is critical to protecting the value of the MLS in the long term and opening doors for industry collaboration and innovation.

In 2020, ACTRIS transitioned to 100% RESO-compliant data, which ensures that our green data fields align with those of other MLSs across the country. If your MLS is not encouraging members to utilize the RESO green fields, it’s important to start that dialogue today so that your agents are better positioned to provide comparable market data for clients with green properties.

No. 2: Educate Your Members

At ACTRIS, we regularly offer continuing education courses that help agents leverage our green MLS fields in their marketing and representation of sustainable properties. During this course, agents dive deep into green MLS fields and green building practices so they can recognize, document, and market green home features. Trainings like this and the NAR GREEN designation give members the opportunity to become proficient in all aspects of green real estate.

If your association doesn’t operate its own MLS, partner with others to develop classes, training materials, and client resources. Can you host a panel of affiliate partners specializing in green building practices? Can you hold a property tour of sustainable building projects? Get creative with your programming.

No. 3: Walk the Talk

As we collectively emerge from the pandemic, every REALTOR® association is rethinking its footprint and how we can better meet our members where they are. If your association is considering an office move, expansion, or remodel, leverage this opportunity to model green building practices and energy conservation methods.

When we set out to build our 35,000-square-foot headquarters and event center eight years ago, sustainability was a core focus. By leveraging solar panels, reclaimed materials, rainwater collection systems, electric vehicle charging stations, low-flow water fixtures, drip irrigation, natural landscaping, and more, our new facility achieved LEED Gold certification, and Austin Board of REALTORS® was named an Austin Green Business Leader by the city. Furthermore, the long-term cost savings and reduced environmental footprint proved to be important points in getting our members excited about the new building.

If you find yourself in Austin, we would love for you to visit our headquarters and tour our LEED-certified building to see our commitment to going green!

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