Trend Watch: Greening the MLS
By Don Knapp
Watch for significant strides on green real estate in 2016. Build It Green (BIG) is taking a lead role in the national push to “Green the MLS” and make energy-related information easily available to home buyers and sellers. In January, the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) named BIG a partner in its Home Energy Information Accelerator program. We’ll collaborate with other local partners like StopWaste and the California Residential Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), as well as various Associations of REALTORS® across the state.
Build It Green joins esteemed national partners in the Accelerator, including Elevate Energy, Earth Advantage, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Appraisal Institute.
The Accelerator’s goal is to make every home’s energy improvements and performance transparent—and factored into a home’s value and selling price. To that end, BIG will design and prototype a Green Building Registry that enables green building and energy performance data to be auto-populated in real estate MLS listings. Read on for more details about the benefits of greening the MLS, and the steps that will make it happen.
Why Does Home Energy Information Matter in Real Estate Transactions?
The challenge and opportunity of greening the MLS is articulated in the Home Energy Information Accelerator Fact Sheet:
Buying a home is among the most significant investment decisions Americans make. Home buyers are understandably interested in getting reliable information about the homes they are considering so that they can make informed purchase decisions. First-time home buyers, in particular, appreciate being able to predict future home expenses, such as likely maintenance, repair, and utility costs. Until recently, it’s been difficult and costly to get credible information about how much energy a home is likely to use. Fortunately, new tools make it much easier to evaluate and communicate a home’s energy performance to buyers and others involved in the real estate transaction.
The Home Energy Information Accelerator aims to make home energy information, such as a home’s certification as meeting efficiency criteria or a its estimated energy usage, much more readily available so that in the not too distant future, finding out how much a home’s energy bills are likely to run will be as easy as looking up a home’s age, size, or school district.
Accelerator Partners (like Build It Green) will develop and demonstrate replicable, sustainable approaches that make energy related information – important data for the home buying process – easily available to home buyers and sellers through multiple listing service (MLS) and other reports.”
Accelerator Goals and Action Items
- Develop and expand the pipeline of reliable home energy information from residential energy efficiency and energy performance programs (e.g., Home Energy Scores, Zero Energy Ready Homes, ENERGY STAR Homes, Green Button data).
- Develop and implement streamlined system(s) that leverage existing data standards and protocols and enable the automated flow of voluntary home energy information from credible sources (e.g., efficiency programs or contractors) to relevant users (e.g., MLSs, property record aggregators, real estate agents, appraisers, lenders, underwriters, public records databases).
- Promote targeted outreach and training efforts for key stakeholders (e.g., efficiency contractors, real estate agents, appraisers, lenders, home inspectors, homeowners and homebuyers) regarding how to produce, access and use home energy information throughout the real estate transaction process.
- Create resources to help other communities nationwide to replicate successful approaches identified by Accelerator Partners.
- Recognize champions, highlight their successes and encourage adoption of best practices.
[Source: Department of Energy Home Energy Information Accelerator Fact Sheet]