RISMEDIA, April 16, 2009-With Earth Day right around the corner and the concept of ‘going green’ becoming more mainstream for both companies and homeowners, now is the time to look at the ways in which you too can join the green movement. This month’s Power Broker Roundtable focuses on the green concept and how two industry leaders have taken on the challenge to go green.
Virginia Cook, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR
-Richard (Dick) Fisher, President, Morro Bay Realty, Morro Bay, California
-Sherry Chris, President and CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
Virginia Cook: Kermit the Frog said it years ago-“It’s not easy being green.” Though the context has changed, the quest to save our planet by living green has gained a new importance. More eco-friendly products are popping up in stores, and the trend toward a paperless lifestyle is more than politically correct. It is a real acceptance of our responsibility to hand a healthy planet to the generations that follow us. This is also the reason NAR has developed green resources for use by brokers and agents-including the new Green Designation (www.GreenREsourceCouncil.org), plus pertinent information at www.realtor.org/archives/green, and articles at REALTOR® Magazine Online.
For this month’s Roundtable, we’ve invited two industry leaders who accepted the challenge to go green early on. Dick, your office has been virtually paperless since 2006. How-and why-did that happen?
Dick Fisher: Well, I grew up with computers, so going paperless seemed like a natural step. With scanners in every office and a full-time transaction coordinator, everything we do today is electronic. Forms are scanned directly into e-mail. DocuSign lets customers sign forms online and e-mail them back to our office. Lenders, escrow companies, even home inspectors and pest control companies are doing more of their business electronically. Everything happens faster and at a lower cost-no postage, no paper, no waiting.
Sherry Chris: I’ll go along with that. A year ago, Realogy started going green with our corporate building in New Jersey. They eliminated disposable cartons and serveware from the cafeteria in favor of reusable materials. They shut down the energy hogs, replaced a circulating fountain with trees and put all the lights on timers. Now we’re launching a new campaign to take it to our offices and customers. There is now a “Living Green” section on our website and a host of resources for agents and brokers on our Intranet.
VC: But does going paperless mean we have to hire technically skilled people? And how is the emphasis on living green affecting agents?
DF: We still hire agents who are salespeople, first and foremost. Then we train them to operate in our paperless environment. Once they try it, they are sold. Even the older agents, who can still remember those bulky multiple listing books they used to carry around, have no problem adapting to the new environment. Often, they are the first to agree that this makes doing business much easier.
VC: Dick, you mentioned you have a full-time transaction coordinator on staff who keeps things moving electronically. Is that a strain on your bottom line?
DF: Just the opposite. In the old days, we had two staffers and an overseer to keep track of all that paperwork. Now, we have the one licensed transaction coordinator, so our cost is substantially less. Overall, in fact, when you factor in the savings in postage, paper, photocopying and mileage, I expect us to cut our costs in half.
SC: For me, going successfully green means combining education and action-and involving our brokers, agents and customers in this supremely important effort. We had great participation in Earth Hour last month, turning off lights for one hour in a show of solidarity-and we’re gearing up for even better participation on Earth Day on April 22.
The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Virginia Cook, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.