Brokers and agents in Chicago and surrounding markets can now highlight energy efficiency and other "green" improvements to existing homes using new multiple listing service data fields — and back up their claims by uploading as many as 14 green disclosure documents.

Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), an MLS serving 40,000 real estate brokers, agents and appraisers in the metro Chicago area, says it has expanded the number of "green fields" for each MLS listing and added verification capabilities to help members keep up with green building and remodeling trends. MRED’s coverage area includes northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana.

By allowing listing agents to upload documentation of green features, including energy efficiency improvements made to existing homes, MRED hopes to fight the practice of "greenwashing" — exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims about a home’s green features.

MRED’s compliance department will confirm that uploaded forms are in fact green disclosures, insuring that data entered into MLS green fields is verified.

The additional green design, disclosure and data verification capabilities will also make it easier for appraisers to access green and utility-savings information that can be important factors in securing financing for the property.

"Utility bills are often a substantial portion of the monthly cost of owning a home," said Anne Evens, Executive Director of CNT Energy, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency, in a statement.

"Today’s additions by MRED ensure that consumers in Chicagoland will have access to the best data on green and energy-efficient homes for sale and make more confident homebuying choices."

The range of data verification available — from a utility bill summary to a detailed green disclosure or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate — covers both existing and new homes, said Sarah Coulter, LEED AP (accredited professional), EcoBroker and National Association of Realtors-certified Green agent at @Properties in Chicago.

Last month, MRED announced it was integrating Walk Scores for each listing, based on a home’s proximity to amenities like parks, schools and restaurants.

MRED CEO Russ Bergeron said the MLS is committed to delivering "public service apps" such as Workforce Resource’s Down Payment Resource tool, which integrates information about hundreds of down payment assistance programs with MLS listings data, and Fannie Mae’s Short Sale Assistance Desk.

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