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How much are those 'green' features really worth? Ask Pearl Certification

August 09 2023

solar power houseI live in a passive house. Don't know what that is? Neither did the listing agent who represented the sellers when I bought my home in 2016, which is why the price was reduced twice before we made an offer (and purchased the property) for $55,000 less than what the sellers wanted for it.

A passive house is a type of high-performing home that's much more common in Europe than in Colorado. The insulation envelope, air exchange systems, and HVAC setup are all dead giveaways that the house is highly energy efficient.

But because the sellers were using my now-home as a vacation rental, they weren't able to clue in their agent, and so the house was listed and marketed without including any of the amazing features that lower my energy bills while keeping my family perfectly comfortable. It worked out to my advantage, but those sellers (and their listing agent) forfeited a significant amount of money as a result.

This is a scenario that probably makes a lot of listing agents' shoulders crawl up around their ears just reading about it. Concerned you might make a similar mistake? The professionals behind Pearl Certification want to teach you how to avoid it.

What is Pearl Certification?

Imagine a certification program that categorizes homes according to the different energy savings features they possess, documenting all of the little things that add up to a high-performing home and placing each item on a weighted scale.

The assessment examines the building shell, heating and cooling systems, baseload equipment, home management features, solar panels, and electric vehicle charging setups. Homes can achieve four different levels of Pearl Certification: Pearl Platinum, Pearl Gold, Pearl Silver, and Pearl Asset. The company also awards "badges" that signify a home's high performance in certain categories, such as a solar badge.

The certification report includes details on a home's special performance features, and homeowners who request a report will automatically get enrolled in Greendoor, an app powered by Pearl that helps them understand what upgrades will elevate their property to the next certification level.

Pearl Certification includes an official appraisal addendum that's generated in order to provide Green Certification for the home and thoroughly document the extent of any energy upgrades.

How does Pearl Certification help agents?

Pearl Certification is building an elite network of real estate agents who have been trained on the high-performing home standards. After registering, agents are provided with education and background, then must prove their knowledge before they can fully join the network. Participating agents can request home certifications for their clients, and the network connects homeowners with agents who understand high-performing homes and how to market them.

We know what you're going to ask: What's the referral fee? Here's a pleasant surprise — Pearl Certification is not a brokerage and has no plans to become one, so the referrals sent to agents through the network are yours to work for free.

And the company also offers training on navigating MLS Green fields (if your MLS has them) so that any energy-efficient homes you're listing can be properly marketed to interested buyers.

Heather Elias, Vice President of Real Estate at Pearl Certification, notes that the solar badge could be useful for agents listing homes with solar panels. "Solar has been a bit like the Wild West," she says, "and the solar badge can go along with a full certification, but it can also stand by itself in helping sellers and their agents calculate the equity of the solar system that's on the house and properly market that information on the listing, as well as walk through conversations around the loan or lease that's on the solar systems."

And don't forget: Pearl Certification isn't just for passive homes like mine.

"It doesn't have to be a house with rain barrels and solar arrays and all the energy-efficient things you'd expect to see," Elias notes. "We can help with any house."