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In a move driven by the wishes of its members, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has initiated a new Sustainability Program designed to position NAR as a leader in the conversation about sustainability in real estate for Realtors®, brokers, allied trade associations and consumers. The new program’s efforts will focus on coordination and articulation of NAR’s existing sustainability resources, while also supporting a growing area of interest for consumers, helping members to assist homebuyers and sellers.

Why Now?
With each passing year, interest in sustainability continues to grow. Research shows that consumers have a strong preference toward the benefits provided by resource-efficient homes and communities. The building, design and home product industries have responded with various solutions that improve a home’s performance by reducing its operational costs—features that will continue to evolve and become increasingly common in the marketplace.

Many real estate agents have already observed this trend in their local markets and recognize that a resource-efficient home, especially one that holds a certification (such as ENERGY STAR® or LEED for Homes), has a competitive market advantage. Research also shows a correlation between sustainable development and property values. But how do brokers and their agents easily identify such shifts in local markets, and locate such properties and features?

After increasingly grappling with these and other questions, members turned to NAR, asking for a fully coordinated effort to address sustainability within the real estate industry. NAR has been actively involved in various sustainability initiatives for many years, including NAR’s Green Designation, Smart Growth Program, Complete Streets, home automation research, legislative initiatives, and greening the MLS, to name a few. What had been lacking, however, was a central point to consolidate, evaluate or articulate matters that impact members, brokers, associations and consumers.

Finding Answers to Complex Questions
Sustainability is a complicated topic that’s too big for any broker to tackle individually. In addition to questions regarding preferential home features and adjusting home values accordingly, brokers and their agents also need to identify helpful resources for buyers and sellers.

To make matters more complex, sustainability topics and solutions are constantly evolving. The Sustainability Program will help increase awareness on the topic within our national association, our members and other industry associations, and the broader real estate and sustainability industries. This program will benefit NAR members through the dissemination and delivery of existing and new resources, information and education, including a new Sustainability Summit in Washington, D.C. It will also introduce corporate social responsibility and triple bottom line concepts into NAR’s decision-making practices.

As a broker, the Sustainability Program also helps you discover ways to incorporate sustainability into your business model so your brokerage can stand out among competitors as a resource that shares a core value with more and more consumers.

Additional Benefits
Other cooperating industries already focused on sustainability include appraisers, builders, architects and MLSs. Each of these provide resources, direction and outreach on sustainability for their members.

NAR is even better positioned to respond more directly to members’ sustainability questions and informational needs. The new program also strengthens influence for the association’s legislative and regulatory staff in D.C. by elevating NAR’s involvement in sustainability issues.

It’s increasingly clear that the product Realtors® are selling is changing. Consumer demand related to the benefits of sustainability is growing. Staying abreast of these changes and supporting members’ efforts requires a fully coordinated effort. As issues continue to evolve, NAR is prepared to play a leading role, incorporating sustainability into its mission as “the voice for real estate.”

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