Hand-in-hand with homebuyers and sellers, Realtors are promoting a culture of sustainability in real estate markets nationwide. Over half of Realtors find that their clients are interested in sustainability issues and practices, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2022 REALTORS® & Sustainability Report. Eleven percent of respondents said that a high-performance home had an increase of 1% to 5% of the dollar value offered compared to other, similar homes.

NAR’s Sustainability Program surveyed Realtors about sustainability issues facing consumers in the real estate market and ways Realtors are setting their own goals to reduce energy usage. “We are proud of our work at the intersection of the built and natural environments,” said NAR President-Elect Tracy Kasper. “Sustainability is directly relevant to what agents and Realtors do, and we aim to lead by example—determining how to enjoy resources today and ensure that future generations have the same advantages.”

To meet growing consumer interest, multiple listing services (MLS) are incorporating data fields to identify a property’s green features: 35% of respondents reported that their MLS has green data fields. Realtors see great value in promoting energy efficiency in listings, with 63% finding value in promoting those features to clients.

Sustainability, solar, and worries about climate change

The survey asked respondents about renewable energy and its impact on the real estate market. A solid majority of agents and brokers (77%) said that solar panels are available in their market; 36% said that solar panels actually increased the perceived property value.

Among the market issues and considerations that agents and brokers mentioned in their responses: understanding lending options for energy upgrades or solar installations (31%), understanding how solar panels impact a transaction (31%), and valuation of solar panels on homes (29%) topped the list. Thirty-two percent of respondents indicated they were extremely confident or very confident that they could connect a client to a lender who would finance energy-efficient improvements to existing homes. A third of respondents said they were extremely comfortable or comfortable answering clients’ questions about home performance. Meanwhile, 24% said they were uncomfortable or extremely uncomfortable—leaving lots of room for industry education.

Twenty-four percent of brokers responding said that tiny homes are located in their market. When asked about involvement with clients and green properties, 50% said they had been directly involved with a property that had green features in the past 12 months.

The sustainable home features that Realtors said clients consider as very or somewhat important include a home’s efficient use of lighting (42%), a smart/connected home (42%), landscaping for water conservation (27%), and renewable energy systems such as solar and geothermal (23%). Coming in just under proximity to work and school, a home’s utility bills and other operational costs (71%) and the home’s comfort (also 71%) were considered important.

Community features

Realtors reported (35%) that clients sought sustainable-neighborhood features, like bike lanes and greenspaces. And 19% reported that buyers are concerned about the impact of climate change on a property. Another 25% of Realtors saw clients worried about severe heat, drought, and wildfires.

The transportation and commuting features of a community that Realtors listed as very or somewhat important to their clients included walkability (50%), public transportation (25%), and bike lanes/paths (38%).

House with a solar panel on the roof. Concept of sustainable resources. Photovoltaics on the red roof of a house. Alternative electricity source. - photo
female runner running at sunset in city park. Healthy fitness woman jogging outdoors. Montreal skyline in background.
Man seated on couch uses tablet for smart home controls - photo

About the survey

The National Association of REALTORS is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members, including NAR’s institutes, societies, and councils, involved in all aspects of the real estate industry. NAR membership includes brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in both residential and commercial real estate.

Here, the term Realtor identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

NAR’s Sustainability Program provides leadership and strategies for Realtors, brokers, allied trade associations, consumers, and communities. Awareness and engagement support sustainability efforts throughout the real estate industry, based NAR’s planning around environmental, social, governance, and resilience contexts. To further that position, NAR’s Sustainability Program invited a random sample of 46,452 active members to fill out an online survey. A total of 2,652 usable responses were received.

Source: National Association of REALTORS

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