Last month Chicagoland's multiple listing service (MRED) rolled out v 2.0 of its green field design.  The move makes MRED the largest MLS in the country to require third-party verification for green fields.  Listing agents who which to promote green homes for sale can now flag them using the "Green Supporting Documents" field.  Listings that use this optional field will be required to attach the corresponding support document. MRED staff will be checking to confirm compliance or will remove the checkbox after the allocated timeframe has passed.

Users have up to 14 options and can select up to three choices.  Options include several new options which now address existing homes.

The idea behind the MRED design is that listing agents can flag a property as "green" by attaching one of the supporting docs. Then buyers can evaluate the details and determine if the home's green features suits their needs.  For example, a family with allergy issues may not be as concerned about water-saving features.

What you won't find in MRED is a trending list of green checkboxes to select from.  Like many GreenMLS design teams the group realized you either end up with too many green choices that overwhelm a listing sheet, or you end up focusing buyers and sellers on green strictly by what makes a more manageable, but partial list.

Whether the MLS in your area has green fields or not, in my work with Realtors, MLS operators, appraisers and home performance programs around the country, it seems that three is key to promoting a green home from sale to contract to closing today:

  1. Flag it "green" with third-party info.  Some agents don't want to enter green fields because they just don't know enough yet to distinguish what is hype and what is real.  Appraisers need to know they are looking apples-to-apples when comparing homes.  Researchers are using a certificate or score from a third-party to understand any premium for these homes.  A scan of a HERS report, LEED certificate or Home Performance with Energy Star completion report makes it easier for everyone involved in a home sale transaction to understand what's really there.  MRED is like many leading GreenMLS and offers a Green Disclosure form to enhance what's provided by a third-party to capture information for homes that do not go through such a program.
  2. Round out the story with utility bill history.  In Chicagoland, MRED users will have the option to get a MyHomeEQ report from their clients as an easy and user-friendly way to understand utility usage.  Appraisers are keen to see this info as it shows monthly savings of an energy-improved home.
  3. Fill in the details on features, installed measures and more.  Features can be added using checkboxes, the remarks field or on in-house listing brochures.

In Chicagoland you can expect green home listings to attach:  Green Supporting Documents and/or the MLS Green Disclosure form and a sample utility bill.  Green home buyers and appraisers will be quite happy with the improved information provided!

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Comment by Jan Green on April 12, 2012 at 10:38am

Thank you for sharing Laura.  Your timing is perfect as these are topics we are currently discussing in our Residential Green Building Committee, U. S. Green Building Council (AZ Chapter).  We've greened our MLS in 2009, but are updating and adding features now.  I've posted this article and the links under our "My Committee" so that the committee can use these as discussion points.  Since the Green & Energy Efficient Addendum was created by the Appraisal Institute, 6/11, this raises the bar and appraisers will be needing supporting data in order to appraise green features.  Hurray for the industry!

Comment by Sean Lintow Sr on April 11, 2012 at 7:06pm

very nice idea, be glad to see this take off elsewhere

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