At the recent Inman Disconnect in the Desert, I was invited to co-facilitate the session on “Standing up to Climate Change,” one of 12 fundamental axioms laid out in The Parker Principles, drafted to codify our commitment to driving change across the real estate industry.
I have 20 years’ experience in sustainable building and I’m the CEO of a company that certifies the energy efficient and renewable energy features of homes to document their value. In the parlance of Simon Sinek: empowering homeowners with information to enhance their quality of life and create sustainable communities is my why.
During our session, my co-facilitator, Leading RE President and CEO Paul Boomsma, and I spoke at length about disaster preparedness, stranded assets, rising home insurance rates, and the promise of new home technology — to each other. Out of the 150+ industry leaders who attended Disconnect, ours were the only two voices having a discussion on this subject.
Does that mean no one else attending cared about the issue? Of course not. There were well-known industry leaders who volunteered an apology to me later for not joining the session. But it’s clear that climate change is an afterthought — as in, we think about it after a number of sexier and seemingly more immediate industry issues that need to be addressed.
Devastating floods, wildfires and hurricanes last year led to a lot of disruption in our industry — and not the buzzy Silicon Valley variety people want to invest in. The reality of climate change is now creeping into our industry in the form or rising insurance costs, investor awareness and valuation fluctuations for at risk properties.
No longer a decades away thing, it’s a waiting-in-the-wings thing that will take center stage in my children’s lifetime. It’s time we put on our big-girl and big-boy pants and do something.
Practically speaking, when our local community thrives, so does our business. The connection between a prosperous and livable community to property value and buyer demand is obvious. Quality of life matters. And the quality of a lot of people’s lives will be negatively impacted if we continue on with our current head-in-the-sand attitude.
I hope you’ll join me in fighting for a prosperous future, as opposed to hiding from a disastrous one.
Right now, today, we have the means to improve our homes and businesses for comfort, health and savings with off the shelf products that literally pay for themselves. Policy and energy nerds call it “The New Energy Economy.” I call it convenient, cool, and a better value.
As an agent or homeowner, you may already be familiar with aspects of the New Energy Economy such as smart thermostats, LED lighting, and solar panels, for example. The cost for these technologies has been dropping even while features have gotten better and better.
On the horizon we have the mass production of electric cars and cheap battery storage, which when combined with solar power, make the home its own mini power plant. No more trips to the gas station, no more bills from the power company — this is the not-so-distant future.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Every economic projection out there on home automation, automobiles, and renewables says the same thing: a tsunami of change will hit an inflection point by 2030. In other words, the wave is coming. If you’re not grabbing a surfboard, I hope you’ve got a life jacket because technological innovation, building code requirements, and the lean and green Millennial customer will not be denied.
So what should we do?
Over five million homes were sold in 2017 — that means our industry had 10 million opportunities (buy and sell side) to share advice on home improvements that can, quite literally, change the world. Get the HVAC tuned up, install a smart thermostat, replace aging appliances with Energy Star-labeled brands, just to name a few environmentally friendly adjustments.
And for those homes where the owner has already made improvements or built the home to a higher standard — are we helping those owners get maximum value at time of sale? Are we using all applicable MLS fields so that an appraiser can find the right comps to assess the home? Put another way, are we fulfilling our fiduciary responsibility to our clients? My company speaks with and trains a lot of agents, and I can tell you that most often the answer is: no. We can do better than no.
Thank you Brad Inman, for starting the conversation, and thank you to my colleagues as well for approving Parker Principle #12: Standing Up to Climate Change. There’s both a new market opportunity and a risk management strategy embedded in it.
I prefer to focus on the opportunities. Let’s create some abundance for ourselves and our clients while strapping on our superhero cape and boots, shall we?