Many real estate professionals drive 20,000 or more miles per year. With gasoline prices over $5 per gallon in some areas, today’s column looks at what you can do to reduce your gasoline bill.

General tips
The folks at Edmunds.com decided to test which gasoline-saving tips really work. They conducted their tests under real-world conditions. Here are the six tips that they say will make a real difference in your gasoline mileage.

Many real estate professionals drive 20,000 or more miles per year. With gasoline prices over $5 per gallon in some areas, today’s column looks at what you can do to reduce your gasoline bill.

General tips
The folks at Edmunds.com decided to test which gasoline-saving tips really work. They conducted their tests under real-world conditions. Here are the six tips that they say will make a real difference in your gasoline mileage.

1. Take the pedal off the metal.
The Edmunds’ test showed you can reduce your gas consumption by 31 to 37 percent simply by gently accelerating rather than gunning it. You can also save money by taking your foot off the accelerator as soon as you see a light ahead of you change.

2. Drive the speed limit or less.
Driving at slower speeds can save 12 to 14 percent in gas consumption. Allow a little more time to get to your destination. Not only will you reduce your stress, you’ll save dollars at the pump as well.

3. Use your cruise control.
Humans don’t accelerate or decelerate as smoothly as a computer does. Save 7 to 14 percent in gas consumption by using your cruise control whenever possible.

4. Leave your air conditioning on; it doesn’t change your mileage.

5. Keep tire pressure at recommended levels.
According to Edmunds, tire pressure has little effect on gas mileage. Nevertheless, keeping your tires inflated at optimal levels increases safety and reduces wear. The cost of tires has increased dramatically because of the petroleum products used in their manufacture.

6. Avoid excessive idling.
It’s common for people to leave their cars running when they’re logging their mileage, waiting for someone to get in the car, or stopping for just a couple of minutes. Eliminating these behaviors can save you up to 19 percent in gas consumption. Bottom line, if you’re going to stop for more than a minute, shut it down.

7. Gas up in the early morning.
This tip wasn’t listed in Edmunds, but is a smart idea. Gasoline expands when it is warmer and contracts when it is cooler. By filling up in the morning, you’ll have fewer fumes and more liquid.

Real Estate-Specific Tips

8. Work from home two days a week rather than going into the office.
With today’s technology, you can work from anywhere. Working from home at least two days a week can cut your gasoline costs by up to 40 percent.

9. Conduct virtual caravans.
Jeff Thompson of Windermere Real Estate came up with this tip back in 2004. Rather than having all of his agents pile into their cars to see new listings, each agent either does a video tour or takes multiple pictures of their new listings. Office staff put the pictures and videos into a PowerPoint presentation for their weekly meeting. Everyone sees the new listings and saves gallons of gas.

10. Rid your car of your open house signs and any other unnecessary items.
While it may be more convenient to haul around your signs and other goodies in your car, lightening the weight of your vehicle increases your gas mileage.

11. Combine multiple stops into one trip.
If you do your own errands, do them all in one trip. Hit the cleaners, the bank, the grocery store, post office, beauty salon, and gas station in a single trip. Alternatively, pick up items after you drop off clients. Don’t forget to record how much of your mileage is business and how much is personal.

12. Screen buyers more carefully.
Agents sometimes have buyers who demand to be shown every listing in town. You can circumvent this gasoline waster by spending at least 20 minutes carefully interviewing each of your buyers. Ask them about their lifestyle, which rooms they spend time in when they’re at home, what they enjoy doing for fun, as well as what their dream house would be like. Identify the top five characteristics that a house must have for them to purchase it. Let each buyer know that there is "no such thing as a 100 percent house." If they find a house that meets 90 percent of their criteria, they should consider purchasing it. Show them the five houses that are the closest to meeting these criteria. If there really is not a fit, show them five more. If you have done a thorough interview, most will be writing an offer. If not, seriously consider whether they are motivated buyers or are simply not ready to purchase at this point in time.

If you want to take away the pain at the pump, implement these few simple changes for major savings.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of "Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters" and "Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?" Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.

Ross will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.

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