Sandra Adomatis

Practitioner Perspective: Seeing Green:

Written by Sandra Adomatis

The appraiser is supposed to get into the minds of buyers and understand what they're buying and valuing. If trends are changing, we need to know that. That is why appraisers and green real estate practitioners can and need to work together to advance the green real estate movement. Appraisers are facing some challenges, but there are simple ways that green real estate practitioners can ease those difficulties.

1. Reading trends, finding comparables: Comparing apples to apples is crucial, but in many markets comparables are in short supply. It's also difficult for appraisers to identify green trends and the features consumers want. Solution: when real estate agents write descriptions, put in green features and show us the trends. Make it simple for appraisers to search for and identify green properties by playing up anything having to do with green, such as solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and green certifications.

2. Documentation: Green washing and labeling properties green that only have some green features or appliances are frequent problems. Chasing down paperwork to substantiate green claims wastes a lot of time. Solution: distinguish between properties with green features and those with certifications. Also have documentation at the ready to substantiate green claims and be prepared to share it with appraisers.

3. Leverage the green MLS: Some MLS systems require listing agents to include an exact HERS® rating. But when appraisers do data searches, they must plug in that exact number to get that specific listing to pop up. It's arduous and inefficient and an appraiser could overlook strong comparables. Solution: if you're involved with your green MLS committee, keep tabs on the coding tweaks that can make locating certified properties easier for appraisers, like a number range for HERS® ratings. The exact HERS® rating can appear in the features and comments section.

4. Cross training: Real estate practitioners need to understand the appraisal process and its challenges, and appraisers need to understand real estate practitioners' business. Yet too few have the advantage of such cross education. Solution: Get professionals from all industries together. Include appraisers in green networking events and invite them to join green business groups and to talk at sales meetings and association events. When I conducted a seminar for builders, appraisers, and lenders, you could see the light bulbs going off. Some builders realized they had valuable documentation, such as green certification and HER® ratings, that never made it into the hands of appraisers. "We need to get into the minds of buyers and understand what they're valuing. If trends are changing, we need to know."

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