By Al Medina, GREEN, LEED AP Director, NAR’s Green Designation
RISMEDIA, August 27, 2010—Most residential brokers begin their careers in a similar way. First they get licensed, work to develop their expertise and slowly build their businesses. In a booming market, one can make a good living even as they build their specific knowledge and experience. But the best careers transcend boom/bust cycles and outlast the latest technology and the current “in” transaction. Relationships are key, but adding specialty areas strengthens careers, too.
The facts are in. Energy efficiency and the green movement in America is a reality that’s here to stay. Ignore it, and you’ll likely lose money and clients. Embrace it and become a networked expert to differentiate your business and gain credibility among your clients and prospects.
Working with green properties does not require expert knowledge on all green and resource efficient aspects of residential properties. Because green expertise is varied, it requires working with architects and engineers, building materials and landscaping experts, and lenders and appraisers. Aim to build general knowledge and a network of experts on whom you can call. From the client’s perspective, you are still providing the added value.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Earning a green designation or certification distinguishes you, creates credibility and provides you with a foundation for serving clients and continuing your education.
-NAR’s Green Designation is a great place to start. Designed for real estate professionals, the program requires that brokers complete a 12-hour core course plus a six-hour elective in either a residential, commercial or property management specialization.
-The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the National Association of Home Builders also have designations for designers and builders. These programs focus on sustainable design, green building practices and how to get a building through the certification process. These are important resources and worth researching.
Become the source of the sources
Once you’ve earned a green designation or certification, stay up-to-date as green technology, practices and policies change. Attend seminars and panel discussions, read newsletters and network with green industry professionals.
This network can keep you plugged in with like-minded professionals and create a new prospective client base.
-Join a green organization such as your local USGBC chapter or Green Drinks. (http://www.greendrinks.org)
-Create a network of green industry professionals. Throughout the course of a green transaction, agents can add considerable value by providing access to the right green industry professional. Network with:
-LEED AP Designers
-Green Attorneys/Green Lenders
Hit the streets
Look for referral or co-marketing opportunities where both parties benefit.
-As you build your green network, introduce yourself to active green businesses that offer sustainable products or services.
-Stay plugged in with like-minded individuals who can steer business your way and who are prospective clients themselves.
-Find these businesses through Google searches or by canvassing your region.
-Attend green conferences and related trade shows to continue growing your green contacts.
Adjust your marketing approach
After your education and while you are building your green network, update all your marketing materials with approved logos and green language.
-Update your website, business cards, flyers and post cards to reflect your knowledge and training with energy efficient buildings.
-Utilize your social media outlets to post about relevant sustainable issues.
-Register on green directories such as www.greenandsave.com and www.greenhomeguide.com. These sites have areas specific to REALTORS® with green credentials.
Practice what you preach
Your day-to-day business practices should become more sustainable. Use environmentally-friendly office materials and remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.
-If printing is required, use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper with a high post consumer waste content and soy based inks – and say you are.
-Minimize driving clients around in your car. Work with your clients to narrow property searches- first by using the Internet and then by only visiting the top properties to save time, money and gas.
Al Medina is director of NAR’s Green Designation. Established by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Green REsource Council was founded to make the knowledge of green real estate practices available to everyone. NAR’s Green Designation is a real estate designation designed for residential, commercial and property management professionals looking to green their businesses and their lives.
To learn more, visit GreenREsourceCouncil.org.