‘Greening the MLS’ will take some time | AspenTimes.com

‘Greening the MLS’ will take some time

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Kelley Cox/Post IndependentBrad Plantz, owner of Sopris Realty, specializes as an "eco-broker." He emphasizes real estate listings for energy efficient homes and buildings, and helps buyers and sellers understand the value of energy efficiency.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Area real estate listings now include information about energy efficiency improvements, indoor air quality and whether sustainable building materials were used during construction.

While these listing categories are relatively new in Colorado, with little obvious impact on current home sales, real estate agents agree that before long, these “green” listings will be used to add value to homes.

“It’s going to take some time,” said Brad Plantz, owner of Sopris Realty in Glenwood Springs, who uses his status as an “eco-broker” as a marketing feature on his website.

“It depends on the market,” he said, predicting that the home sales will be bogged down in the immediate future by foreclosures and short sales.

So when will energy efficiency and other “green” values become a hot selling point?

“Basically when there’s more demand for new homes, and builders are competing with other builders,” Plantz said.

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“In a normal economy, it would definitely add value,” said Linda Wylie, a broker with Fleisher Co., concerning homes with good energy efficiency ratings and improvements.

But, she continued, “This is the worst economic situation I’ve ever been through, and I just don’t know what to expect.”

The greening of the Multiple Listings Service began in Colorado during the summer of 2010 in communities along the Front Range.

By early 2011, the idea crossed the Continental Divide.

Angela Loughry, a Carbondale architect, recently was part of a team that taught classes for real estate professionals interested in the green listings.

She recalled that a statewide committee held meetings a year ago to examine how the real estate market should react to green building codes, energy efficiency ratings for homes and other hallmarks of increased awareness of the need to conserve energy in homes and buildings.

The Governor’s Energy Office also was involved, and awarded the committee a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Loughry said.

She and another local architect, Mark McLain, also of Carbondale, used the $12,000 grant to provide continuing education classes for professionals in the real estate and property appraisal trades, to acquaint them with the new building practices and MLS listings.

Working with Colorado Mountain College, Loughry and McLain put together two sets of classes, one for architects and a second for real estate brokers and appraisers, which together drew approximately 70 people.

In teaching the classes, they recruited Angela Loughry’s brother, appraiser Mike Loughry, who works with Columbine Appraisal Service.

“It’s a great thing that they’ve made it a searchable field,” Mike Loughry said of the MLS green listings, “because most MLS systems don’t do that.”

He said the Aspen/Glenwood Springs MLS and the Front Range listing services together are at the forefront of making the green listings more readily available.

Although the classes have ended, both architects said they would be interested in further classes if there is sufficient interest from the area’s real estate community.

“It’s still a crystal-ball kind of thing,” McLain said, referring to interest among real estate professionals in something that might not show tangible financial returns right away.

Real estate appraisers rely on comparative home-sales data in the neighborhood to determine the value of a property, Plantz noted, and there have not been many sales where energy efficiency improvements made a difference in home values.

So, he said, “We have to get more sales of homes that are energy efficient,” which will provide appraisers with the needed data.

For now, Plantz said, “Green building practices aren’t necessarily on the top of the list” for buyers looking for good deals on a property.

jcolson@postindependent.com