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Elevating Green Homes Through a Competitive Real Estate Market

Real estate agents explore San Rafael house to learn about green home upgrades.

The Bay Area has an exceedingly competitive housing market, and in the face of an aging housing stock, home buyers are often left to consider the costs of unforeseen home upgrades. Amidst these challenges, local East Bay Realtor, Jade Talbot emphasizes, “During a time when most costs associated with buying a home are at all-time highs (purchase price, insurance costs, interest rates, etc.), the idea of being able to predict lower utility costs so that your home is self-sustaining is something that more and more home buyers will begin to consider.” The majority of homes in the Bay Area were built in the early-mid 1900s, making them ill-equipped to withstand growing environmental challenges such as extreme heat, wildfires, and rainy winters. Real estate agents have emerged as vital sources of information, tasked with educating potential clients on the different approaches to green home improvements. Talbot notes, “It's our jobs as REALTORS® to educate our clients. Not only will this benefit new homeowners’ quality of life, but it will impact re-sale value AND be better for the environment overall.” BayREN’s Green Labeling program empowers real estate agents to learn about the benefits of green homes through Green Home Tours, NAR GREEN Designation Trainings, and more.

Last month, BayREN organized a Green Home Tour for 10 real estate agents, to explore a 1950’s 3-bedroom 2-bath home located in San Rafael. At the time of purchase, the home lacked general efficiency features such as insulation and had older, drafty windows as well as gas appliances, contributing to steep energy bills crucial to maintaining home comfort. The homeowner Pamela shares, “Over time we’ve been able to almost completely free our home from the use of fossil fuel appliances. This not only has helped our health but saved us money and prevented us from contributing to upstream methane (“natural gas”) drilling, production, and pipeline leaks that most often impact lower income families.”

The renovations spanned from crawl space insulation – rendering winters more tolerable – to shingle replacement with Cool Roof Rating Council materials for summer cooling. Pamela also undertook measures like caulking, weather stripping, and window replacements. Significantly, Pamela installed electric, energy efficient appliances, upgrading her HVAC system to a heat pump, adding electric vehicle infrastructure, a heat pump water heater, and an induction range. While BayREN provides rebates for energy efficiency and electrification measures, the home tour provides a broader understanding of a green home, as realtors were also able to see the use of recycled materials for countertops, pollinator gardens, and grey water systems.

 “Green Home tours connect real estate agents to the community and are a great way of experiencing first-hand, the amazing benefits of making energy efficiency improvements or going all electric,” says Realtor Trainer, John Shipman from Franklin Energy. “The interaction with Green Home Tour residents, help real estate agents to articulate the benefits discussion with their own clients. These opportunities help Realtors to go beyond education, creating a real value-add for their clients and their business.” By fostering these connections and insights, Green Home Tours empower realtors to be catalysts for positive change in both their clients' lives and the broader environment.

Are you a real estate looking to learn more about green homes? Register for our upcoming events: