New Yorkers often make eco-friendly choices — whether it’s getting around town on bicycles, grocery shopping with reusable tote bags or hiring green real estate agents. Yes, green real estate agents. These days, brokers are certified to help clients make environmentally conscious choices when it comes to renting or buying a home. Surprisingly, they do not charge more than regular real estate agents. Here’s what you need to know.
What makes a broker “green”?
While there are many certifications out there, two reliable ones are LEEDS Green Associate and EcoBroker. A green agent should have at least one of these certificates and it must be renewed every year or two (depending on certification). And don’t get taken by greenwash. “You have to ask agents, ‘What kind of training have you taken?’ Did they sit in class for a couple hours or did they go for three days, take tests, do the homework and keep up on it every year?” says Dr. John Beldock, chief technology officer of EcoBroker.com, which provides green training and education for real estate professionals.
“I got into it because my customers were asking about it; they’re concerned about their families. A lot of materials used for construction are terrible. You know that new paint smell? That’s VOC [volatile organic compounds, which can lead to respiratory problems and other health issues],” says Jeff Schleider, founder of Miron Properties — a socially responsible, green real estate company. He’s the third person certified in New York through EcoBroker. Currently 250 real estate professionals in New York have EcoBroker certification.
“Not everyone knows that buying or renting a green home can save you money in the long run,” explains Lidia Lander, an EcoBroker at CitiHabitats. Lander says that energy-efficient homes end up costing less because homeowners will spend less money on utility bills. She also says that there’s financing available (such as the ENERGY STAR mortgage) if you invest in an energy-efficient home.