EcoBrokers help people buy or sell eco-friendly houses
When it came time to put the strawbale-constructed, super energy-efficient, highly insulated home Jim Craner built in Verdi up for sale, he wanted a realtor who could actually appreciate it. He wanted someone who would understand the benefits of his 3 kW solar power system, the hydronic radiant heating, the south-facing windows. He wanted a realtor who could explain to prospective buyers how all of that is an asset to what is also a comfortable, attractive, durable home. He wanted an ecobroker—he just didn’t know they existed.
He’d met Craig Schriber, a Dickson Realty agent, when Schriber visited Craner’s home during a “Solar Home Tour” in 2006. He remembered him this April when he put his $982,500 eco-friendly home on the market. Turns out, Schriber had become the first licensed EcoBroker in Northern Nevada about two years ago.
The EcoBroker license was developed by Colorado-based company EcoBroker International, which has certified nearly 3,000 agents in the United States. Certified ecobrokers have taken courses that deal with things like radon, mold and asbestos, energy-efficient design and applying green building knowledge to the real estate market.
“An ecobroker has a special level of training so they can understand energy-efficient, healthy and sustainable building and how that relates to the market,” says Schriber. “For example, if a buyer wants to find the right home that will fit them energy-wise, expense-wise, we may look for homes that only have certain features.”
He can also identify homes with a strong potential to become more energy-efficient if they aren’t already.
“There aren’t a lot of green homes on the market, but there are lots of homes that can be made greener,” says Schriber.
With that idea, ecobrokers have also been telling their clients about “green mortgages.” These mortgages offer bigger loans or discounts for buyers who make energy-efficient improvements to their homes and for people whose new homes meet certain standards for efficiency.
There’s no extra fee involved with ecobrokers, just an added knowledge of sustainable building concepts.
“That inspires confidence, rather than a realtor saying, ‘I don’t have a clue, I’m just reading what it says here,'” says Craner.
The home is still for sale, which Craner attributes to a lackluster economy and not to Schriber’s salesmanship.
Schriber says there aren’t a lot of buyers in Reno specifically asking for environmentally friendly homes, though there seems to be more awareness of it in Tahoe, where a number of other ecobrokers are based.
“But I deal with a lot of buyers, and I don’t think there’s any buyer who wouldn’t want a home that’s more energy efficient,” he says.
As green building catches on—and energy bills continue to rise—Craner thinks there will be a lot more ecobrokers in the future.
“I think other homes that have done things like this are similar [to mine] and will become increasingly similar over time,” says Craner. “And it will take 10 to 20 years for other realtors to catch up.”