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6 Things Every Agent Needs to Know About Solar Energy for Homes
Solar energy for homes is surging in popularity. The residential solar market saw its fifth consecutive record year in 2021, growing 30% over 2020. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, homeowners remain motivated by increasing electricity bills brought on by more time spent at home, power outage experiences, and low financing costs to add solar features to their homes. A Pew Research Center study revealed that the appetite for solar homes is high. While just 6% of U.S. homeowners say they have already installed solar panels at home, nearly half (46%) say they have given serious thought to adding solar panels to their homes in the past year. Two factors are driving the solar housing marketplace. First, more homeowners are adding solar energy features. Second, home shoppers are looking to buy more energy-efficient homes to reduce their total housing expenses. Real estate agents will need to become "solar savvy" about the unique features and benefits of solar-powered homes. Here are six things every agent needs to know about solar energy for homes: 1. Solar homes sell for more: A U.S. Department of Energy study found that homebuyers throughout the U.S. are willing to pay more for a house with solar energy. Buyers were willing to pay $15,000 for a home with a solar system compared with a similar home without one. 2. Solar homes sell faster: An Appraisal Institute-sponsored study discovered that homes with solar panel systems stay on the market much shorter than homes without solar. Other studies have shown that new homes with solar installed sold twice as fast as homes without solar. 3. Benefits to sellers and buyers: Energy savings from a solar-powered home can be significant. Solar panels typically produce enough electricity to power at least half of an average-sized home, dramatically reducing annual energy costs. Solar homes also offer energy security. Solar homes deliver reliable energy in states like California and Texas with scheduled blackouts and/or energy surge pricing. Solar homes that become energy independent are never impacted by energy rate hikes. Finally, solar energy is clean energy, saving homeowners more than dollars – solar homes also help save the Earth. 4. Solar energy tax advantages: For more than 15 years, the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit has given homeowners a significant one-time deduction on their federal returns. In December 2020, Congress extended the tax credit, which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, now provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022 and 22% for systems installed in 2023. Previously, systems installed before 2019 were eligible for a 30% tax credit. Still, a 26% credit essentially brings the price of a $20,000 solar photovoltaic system down to $14,800. Additional state and local tax incentives could save homeowners even more money. A big bonus: There is no maximum amount that can be claimed. 5. Solar homes work in cloudy states, too: The idea that solar only works in sunny conditions is a myth. According to GAF Energy, new solar cells are more efficient than ever. Today's cells can capture the sun's rays even in low-light situations. Cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle have plenty of foggy or overcast days yet have many "happy solar customers," the firm notes. Some of the fast-growing new markets for solar homes are Boston, Massachusetts, and Newark, New Jersey. 6. Searching online for solar homes listed for sale: Several years ago, the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) partnered with the Energy Department's Better Buildings. As a result, RESO led the effort to actively promote adding home energy information into MLSs to aid online home searches. The result is that residential listings feature fields for solar power systems, giving consumers the ability to search solely for solar homes listed for sale in a growing number of markets. To learn more about solar homes, check out the resources available from the Department of Energy or see the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) map that shows solar data, state by state here. Related technology educational blogs: Choosing Impressive Listing Photos Can Dramatically Boost Your Image, Too Top Tech Issues Every Real Estate Pro Faces How Safe Is Your Computer? Check Out This Safety Checklist! Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.
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Realtors See Sharp Increase in Homes with Green Features
The number of Realtors involved with buying or selling a property with green features has significantly increased in the past year, according to a recent study from the National Association of Realtors. The 2022 REALTORS and Sustainability Report surveyed NAR members nationwide regarding sustainability issues currently facing the real estate industry. Half of agents and brokers surveyed said they helped a client buy or sell a property with green features during the past 12 months, a notable jump compared to 32% in 2021. Nearly two out of three respondents – 63% – said that energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable. Over half of agents and brokers – 51% – found that their clients were somewhat or very interested in sustainability. And 35% reported that their multiple listing service features green data fields. Among those with green data fields in their MLS, the top ways they were used were to promote green features (35%), energy information (24%) and green certifications (13%). "Sustainability continues to play a growing role in consumers' purchasing decisions, and this is becoming even more prevalent in the real estate market," said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a Realtor® from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas. "With the residential property market, in particular, home buyers have expressed increased interest in eco-friendly factors like solar panels and energy efficiency." Roughly three out of four Realtors® – 77% – said that properties with rooftop solar panels were available in their market. These numbers were highest in the West (89%) and Northeast (86%). Thirty-six percent said that homes with solar panels increased the perceived property value, compared to 30% that said they had no effect. Source:  The report also noted rising anxiety among Realtors® about the effect of climate change and extreme weather events on their businesses. More than one out of three respondents – 34% – said they were very or somewhat concerned about the impact of extreme weather events on the housing market. Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, said that the increased focus on sustainability in recent years is a win-win for all homeowners. "More sustainable homes bring benefits to homeowners like cost savings from energy efficiency, health benefits from improved indoor air quality, and increased comfort and durability from material use and construction, and may also increase resale value," Lautz said.
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The Best Eco-Friendly High-Tech Home Products
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Standout Marketing for October: HalloGreen
Holiday time is approaching. Don't scream about losing out on the fun of one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the year. Now is the time to turn Halloween into HalloGreen. HalloGreen is an opportunity for you, as the local real estate agent, to come up with fun and creative ways to celebrate with your community the value of an eco-friendly lifestyle while promoting your business. In fact, utilizing just one or more of these ideas can help generate smiles in your market that will have you remembered and appreciated!
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Top 8 Eco-Friendly Home Features in Demand
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A Green Guide to Becoming a Sustainable Realtor
With Earth Day on Wednesday, sustainability is top of mind for many. At one time a niche, sustainable practices are now demanded by consumers, with 81% of the global consumers believing it is important for a company to have an objective of improving the environment, according to Forbes. Home buyers are becoming increasingly aware of green alternatives, and an influx in energy-efficient housing and eco-friendly materials is likely to be seen. So what does this mean for Realtors? Having knowledge in the sustainable real estate landscape is beneficial now more than ever, and there are multiple tools to get you started.
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4 Ways to Market Eco-homes to Buyers
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Green Home vs. Smart Home (and the Top 9 Features)
Smart homes and green homes are growing in demand in many parts of the country. Yet, when people think of a smart home, some may think it is the same as a green home. Yes, they work beautifully together, but they are actually different. This article will highlight each and show you the key features that buyers are looking for now.
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4 Green Marketing Ideas Agents Can Try this Earth Day
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Home Energy Costs Play Vital Role in Marketing Listings
The real estate market is shifting—again. While upgrades like a swanky new kitchen or contemporary outdoor living space still draw attention, many buyers are becoming increasingly aware of the costs and benefits behind the walls. Home energy consumption levels are top of mind for many consumers who recognize that making the monthly mortgage payment is just a portion of the total amount needed to operate a household. Discerning homebuyers want to fully understand costs such as heating, cooling, lighting, electronics and even laundry. The trend is no surprise considering recurring variable expenses consume up to 4 percent (roughly $2,200 per year) of the average household's income, before taxes, according to the Insulation Institute. Those dollars speak volumes to every conscientious buyer and can be a valuable marketing tool for sellers and agents.
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Sustainability and Real Estate: How to Keep Up with the Growing Demand for 'Green'
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Going Green in 2017
Real estate agents and brokers know that having a transaction management program today is a must-have to remain competitive, compliant and become more productive. But there's another huge benefit to a paperless transaction that is often overlooked: it's remarkably Earth-friendly. Being more eco-friendly remains important to a vast majority of Americans. In fact, 79 percent of Americans "agree that they consider themselves an environmentally conscious person," while only 6 percent strongly disagree, according to a Harris Poll conducted last year. The impact of paper Consider for a moment the amount of paper the average real estate agent handles during a single typical transaction—from the marketing materials and often hardcopy of a CMA at a listing presentation, to the contract, addendums, title, appraisal and documents at the closing table—the stack of paper would likely be as thick as an old telephone book for a major city! Now think about the fact that there are typically 5-6 million new and existing homes sales each year, and the fact that the typical sales transaction still provides multiple sets of paper documents for all the parties involved, and we are talking a huge negative impact on our environment. Now according to experts, it takes a little more than half a tree to make 10 reams of 100 percent, non-recycled 20-lb. copier paper. One ream of 500 sheets of paper uses about 6 percent of a tree. The bottom line is that if every real estate agent went paperless, we could potentially save millions of trees each year.
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The Future Is Now: Sustainable Homes for the Booming Millennial Market
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3 Apps for First-Time Home Buyers
Owning a home for the first time can be scary. With that new set of keys comes concerns about property upkeep that former renters have never had to worry about before. If you sense anxiety from first-time buyers that you work with, direct them to the following apps. They ease the apprehension by helping new homeowners understand how their home works and offering actionable steps for keeping up with critical maintenance tasks. Homeselfe Today's generation of first-time buyers is more eco-conscious than their predecessors. Homeselfe is an energy management app that helps homeowners understand their home's weak points for energy efficiency and how they can lower their energy bills. Homeselfe does this by walking users through a digital representation of their home and asking questions about energy efficient features in each room. The questions cover topics like the type of insulation, location of ducts, whether certain appliances are Energy Star certified, if there are aerators on the faucets, etc. Once your client has answered all the questions, Homeselfe generates a report that lists areas where energy efficiency could be improved, and how much the homeowners can save on utility bills if they upgraded to a more energy efficient option. The report also shows available rebates for upgrading. In my area, for example, Homeselfe tells me that my power company, PG&E, offers up to $700 in rebates for upgrading to an energy efficient water heater. Tip: This app is handy for your seller clients, too. Use the app to help identify areas where energy efficiency could be improved before listing. Or, if the home scores well, mention those strengths in the listing description--the lower utility bills that come with energy efficiency is a definite draw!
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Going Green: 3 Marketing Tips for Real Estate Agents
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Checklist: Going Digital
"Digital" is an often used, frequently misunderstood term. In the case of real estate professionals, "going digital" can easily be replaced with "going paperless." It describes the transition of business functions from antiquated techniques (like filing cabinets and ballpoint pens) to modern computer technology. Are you ready to make this transition? We'll provide a checklist of the key tools you'll need. Before we do, let's have a little reality check. Your business will not be completely, 100% paperless – at least, not in the foreseeable future. There will be some documents and marketing collateral that you simply must put on a piece of paper. Your goal should be to aim for maximum paper reduction to honor the planet, reduce expenses, save time, and allow you to make more money selling real estate. The Checklist This checklist may not be inclusive, but it's a great place to start. These are the tools that can help you ditch the printer. 1. Electronic Signatures. The biggest offender for paper waste in real estate is contracts. With the multiple versions that most transactions go through, the number of pages printed can be truly terrifying. Thankfully electronic signature providers like DocuSign have digitized this process. Their technology has become incredibly advanced, offering remarkable functionality with an ease-of-use that surpasses even pen-to-paper signatures. With the addition of a mobile app like the DocuSign mobile app, you have your documents and forms with you no matter where you go, helping you close deals more quickly and conveniently.
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8 Resources for Saving 'Green' this Earth Day
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Spring Clean Your Business Processes
How organized is your work life? If you're like a lot of agents, your desk is probably scattered with random paperwork, sticky notes, and more. Your unofficial other office--your car--is probably not faring much better. You're not alone. According to a survey by staffing firm Adecco, 57% of workers admit to judging colleagues based on the tidiness of their workspace. Your co-workers, however, are likely to be far more forgiving than potential clients. Luckily, spring is finally here, and now's the perfect time to get your professional life and space organized. Deep Clean Your Business Processes Spring cleaning your work life should, yes, include your physical space, but should also be a time to take a critical eye to your business processes and technology use. Why? Because while it's easy to get organized, it's far more challenging to stay organized. Start by honestly examining your weaknesses. What are your obstacles to staying organized? Are there technological tools you can use that would help? If you find yourself buried in mountains of paper, for instance, consider purchasing a solution like zipForm® 6 that digitizes transactions and eliminates unnecessary paperwork. Conversely, are there any tools that you're paying for but not using that you could eliminate? Cleaning up your bottom line is as important as cleaning up your personal space. For the most efficient use of your time and budget, focus on acquiring tools that integrate with each other. For example, when your transaction management solution offers digital signature capability, just think how much easier it would be to collect signatures from all parties, and how much faster you could submit offers or close a deal.
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The Hidden Cost of Paper Transactions
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Learn how to be a Paperless Agent™ with the GoodLife Team and RE Technology!
"I've begun to wonder how many agents who own iPads actually know how to use it in their business. I've speculated that the majority of these agents do not. Anyone can buy an app from the app store – that's a piece of cake – but what they're missing is the knowledge of what to do with the application once it's been downloaded." -- Krisstina Wise, Why You Must Be A Paperless Agent RE Technology is proud to present a free webinar with Krisstina and Garry Wise of the GoodLife Team next Wednesday, January 23. Whether you're an iPad expert or a rookie, you'll learn how to use your tablet for everything from home tours, listings presentations, transaction management, and more! See the video below to learn more about becoming a Paperless Agent™, then register for the webinar.
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Best of 2012: Why You Must Be A Paperless Agent
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Going Paperless: 3 Tips to Get Started
Now that I have sort of become known as the "Real Estate Technology Geek," I receive calls and e-mails daily about how REALTORS® can become paperless. I highly doubt that it is possible to be 100 percent paperless in our business, but here are three tips that will get you darn near close to never using a printer, ever again. 1. Daily Real Estate Task: Printing "Agent Full Report" from MLS. It is something that we must have when showing a property. It has the details that customers/clients don't have in their "Customer Full Report," such as days on the market, the listing agent's contact info, private remarks, etc. For PC users — Instead of printing this report, download a program called CutePDF. It is a free PDF converter that will set up as a printer in your print menu, BUT... drum-roll, please... it will not print! It will save your report as a PDF. This program is great and saves you the hundreds of dollars it would cost to purchase a similar Adobe product. I simply save the reports in Dropbox or Box (another must-have) and simply open it up on my iPhone or iPad.
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Two Approaches to Commute Calculation
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"The Cloud" 101
Prabakar Mahalingam of GoPaperless Solutions says: You've heard so much about "the cloud," but do you really understand what it is and what the impacts are for your business? Maybe it's time to get back to the basics – with a crash course in Cloud Computing 101. Definition The cloud isn't up in the air; it's actually a bunch of servers in a data center, somewhere on the ground. What most real estate agents need to understand about cloud computing is that it is essentially any form of computing (particularly applications or storage) that takes place on the Internet. It's obviously more complicated and technical than this, but that other stuff matters for our developers – not for you, the end consumer. Use in Real Estate Each industry leverages cloud computing in a slightly different way. Some of the primary uses for real estate include: Storage – Saving and accessing data is one of the primary applications of cloud computing in any industry (just look at the popularity of Dropbox). In real estate, this is certainly true as agents seek to store signed documents, forms, contracts, photos, and other crucial information. The online vault is an example from our Real Estate Dashboard solution, where agents can access their contracts and documents anywhere, anytime, plus provide permission-based access to their clients and contacts. Fax – Sending and receiving fax electronically with cloud-based systems can help agents reduce the waste and inconvenience of paper fax. This is one of the popular features in our REDfax solution.
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Why You Must Be A Paperless Agent
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Going Green is Better for Your Clients, Too
We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of going mobile and paperless – but we’ve done it mostly from the perspective of agents and brokers. Today we’re looking at it from a different angle. We want to point out that these smart business decisions can be beneficial for clients as well. “Remember,” says RE Technology CEO, Victor Lund, “your client may be as busy, or busier, than you are. Imagine that you are juggling a career, family and the prospect of moving – that’s a lot to carry. If you can make their real estate transaction smoother, that could give them some much-needed simplicity.” “I Want it Now” Consumers today have an “I want it now” attitude. They’re used to instant gratification in many areas of their lives, due to all the mobile and paperless technologies they’re accustomed to. These include: banking, paying utilities or other bills, preparing/paying taxes, sending invitations, purchasing tickets – and infinitely more. Dealing with “I want it now” customers used to be quite a challenge for on-the-go real estate agents. After all, if you have to dig through the paperwork at your office to respond to a client request, but you’re on the road showing properties to a potential buyer, you’re in quite a pickle. The key to making this work is to utilize mobile, paperless options for sharing documents and information. These resources allow you to keep moving without compromising your customer service.
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Virtual vs. Brick-and-Mortar Offices
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When Is Your Office Going Paperless?
    Today's post was written by Austin Allison and appeared originally on the DotLoop blog. Using digital materials for marketing, advertising and other purposes has a number of benefits compared to using printed materials. Digital files are much easier to transport, distribute and can save a company thousands of dollars in printing costs. The cost-effective nature of digital documents has been a strong incentive for many large companies to cease using printed materials. One such company, Lockheed Martin, switched from using printed materials for policy manuals to emailing an electronic version to employees that saved the company $250,000!
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Going green, easier than you think!
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Are You Meeting Your Goals for 2011?
June is officially here, marking the middle of the year. It's time to start asking yourself if you've accomplished, or set the wheels in motion to accomplish, the goals set early in the year. For many Realtors®, that goal was to ditch traditional real estate practices and adopt the right technology solution to make their business interactive. The end of 2010 promised the future of real estate as more people were adopting smartphones and tablets – meaning Realtors® would quickly need to adopt a solution to meet prospective home buyer and seller demand.
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Going Paperless: A Smart Choice
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Trends in Technology… Where Will We Be in 2020?
      It took us 20,000 years to invent the automobile, and it’s only been 30 years since home computers started showing up in our office cubicles.  And last year saw an explosion of tablets, smart phones and 3D TV’s, along with new ideas in software and advances in cyber security. Just think what can happen in the next 10 years.  It boggles the mind.  It’s likely that the things mentioned here will be fully realized and as common as the stapler on your desk in less than two years. What will be everyday in 2020 is anybody’s guess.  But here is what’s current now and is likely to improve in the near future.
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Need a New Year’s Resolution?
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What is Green?
Spreading from the coastal regions of the US to its center is the new “green” movement.  This movement captured the spotlight and now is a bandwagon most businesses and business owners are trying to jump on to boost their public image and increase their revenues.  Its followers spout ambiguous terminology like it were indigenous to the English language.  In truth it is an evolution.  It is an addition to the original Webster’s Dictionary definition, dating before the 12th century: “of the color green.”  In 2010 there are now 10 definitions for the word “green.”  So the question is, what is “green?”  The progressive term “green” is largely unrelated to the pigment that calms the mind and colors landscapes. “Green” in this case is more than an adjective, it’s a noun.  It’s an idea.  It morphs easily into an action with terminology such as "being green" or “going green.” But what IS it?
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