Push for more sustainable homes
Gary Smith explains a new program that enables the real estate industry to identify and integrate an additional 17 Liveability Property Features into a property’s sale price or rental return in a robust and standardised manner.
I still remember talking with a room full of new home sales people and estate agents early on in my window sales career about energy efficient windows and asking them if they ever mentioned these great features when selling a home. Of course the answer was ‘no’ before explaining to me that all people wanted to know about was kitchens, bathrooms, big living areas, outdoor entertainment and granite bench tops… they weren’t interested in things like double glazed windows. At last, the tide has turned and things are changing.
Over the past two years the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) has been working with The Centre for Liveability Real Estate on a program called The 17 Things™.
The Centre for Liveability Real Estate was founded to provide specialist liveability real estate training, research, strategy and communication services to the whole residential real estate industry.
The Liveability Real Estate Property Marketing Framework addresses the four aspects of property marketing: the real estate agent (1) who brings the people (2) and property (3) together through effective online and print marketing (4).
It is not a rating system. It is a property marketing framework which enables the real estate industry to simply and effectively identify and integrate an additional 17 Liveability Property Features™ into a property’s sale price or rental return in a robust and standardised manner.
Liveability Property Features are property features that offer the potential for reduced running costs and increased comfort if used correctly by the occupant. These features were developed in consultation with industry organisations (such as the Australian Window Association) in the sustainable design, building/construction, manufacturing and assessment industries and are endorsed and supported by them. They cover location, floor plan and layout, key building structure elements, important energy and water saving inclusions, renewables, energy ratings and more.
The real estate industry has chosen these 17 Liveability Property Features because they can be validated at point
of sale or lease by a trained agent. A property needs a minimum of six selected Liveability Property Features to receive the Liveability Property Features icon on a rental or sales listing.
The aim of this exciting new program is to market energy efficient and sustainable features of a consumer’s home to drive the value of high performance products including WERS rated windows.
What this means for buyers and sellers is that the Liveability Features icon can now be highlighted on the property listing of a home for sale or rent and the features it represents expertly marketed by a trained Liveability Real Estate Specialist. These specially trained sales agents and property managers have been up-skilled to recognise, understand and effectively sell an additional 17 Liveability Features. This is good news for home owners who have invested in the features, or renovators wanting to know where to start. It’s also good news for buyers and renters who are looking to find a healthy, efficient and comfortable home that is connected to their local community.
The 17 Things appraisal form contains benchmarks for each feature, set in collaboration with knowledge partners in the relevant industries. These benchmarks ensure every appraisal is working to a standard for buyers and sellers, and ensures consistency across new and existing homes.
Four Liveability Features have established to date in association with industry organisations which require proof beyond the agents’ walk though. These are the AWA: WERS rating certificate; ICANZ (a newly developed 5 point inspection checklist and certificate); the Clean Energy Council’s Solar PV standard and the Australian Building Sustainability Association’s energy rating certificates.
To ensure that members of WERS are able to prove the performance of their products and to ensure that only certified energy rating performance is used when marketing the home, it is a requirement of The 17 Things that window performance must be verified with a WERS certificate.
As the program continues to grow, the Australian Window Association is regularly contacted by building owners looking for a copy of the WERS Certificate so their real estate agent can prove the performance of their windows in order to market the value of high performance products.
Unfortunately the building and window industries are not helping to drive this fantastic initiative of the real estate industry. Builders should be asking for a WERS certificate and including this in the handover kit to the owner of the property. Window and door suppliers should automatically be producing a WERS certificate and providing every purchaser (builder or homeowner) with a copy and recommend that they keep it in a safe place to add to the value of their home at a future sale or lease.
The real estate industry should be applauded for developing such an innovative program; it is now up to the window and building industries to play their part in the identification of the 17 Liveability Property Features.