St Johns County Board of Realtors Goes Green
by Jeannette Moore, Broker/Owner
Green Florida Properties
Earth Day 2010 (4/22/10) – I was feeling vibrantly green as I sat in the lobby of the St. Augustine and St. Johns County (Florida) Board of Realtors office awaiting the agenda time for my proposal. Hoping to awaken curiosity in the Board of Directors with my five minute presentation with reasons to add green fields to our MLS data forms, I distributed forms and outlines from the NAR GREEN© MLS Online Toolkit. I fielded two questions about solar panels and tankless water heaters. It was obvious most of the attending Board members were not familiar with green features when I listened to comments about the high expense to build a green home and poor timing in the current economy for selling more expensive homes with less square footage. I noted an affordable housing development in our county with 34 certified green homes and its’ success. Fortunately one of the Board members was also a certified EcoBroker© and made a motion to add green features to our MLS. Surprisingly the vote passed and I felt victorious in my efforts! I was voted to chair a committee to identify green features pertinent to our area and placement of those features within the data fields. Excitement filled me the rest of the day as I remembered stories from other NAR (National Association of Realtors) GREEN© designees with disappointing results.
Brimming with enthusiasm I sent emails to the MLS Board President and the Association CEO ready to begin the project. The reply I received brought me back to reality. A President’s Advisory Group committee would be formed with me as chair. An email would be distributed to all association members for volunteers to serve on the committee. Qualifications were to be “anyone interested in learning more about green home features”. What I thought would be a relatively direct project was now turning into an educational experience. I needed to maintain humility and tact to encourage a change in direction. After several drafts, I sent a letter to the two in charge with my recommendations. I suggested Realtors who had any type of green designation or experience with sustainable features would be best suited for the Green MLS PAG committee and would expedite the process with the necessary knowledge of terms. I also offered to hold classes for the membership once the green fields were integrated into the MLS to provide more education into green and selling green features to customers. My recommendation was accepted, possibly because it made sense, but probably due to only two volunteers for the committee. The lack of response was partly due to many members vacationing in June and little motivation to get involved in a project where few believed there was any green inventory.
Almost three months to the day that I made the initial presentation to the MLS Board, the first scheduled session for the Green MLS PAG convened in the Association office. The CEO attended the meeting to oversee and explain the process. One Realtor, had volunteered but was out of the country for the summer and sent an email with a couple thoughts. In attendance was Kelly Moore, Realtor, licensed contractor, energy rater and myself. I was grateful to have someone on the committee with some knowledge. Armed with copies of all the green input fields used by other MLS Boards from the NAR Green Resource Council “MLS Green MLS Toolkit” Kelly and I got to work analyzing each and every one of the input fields. After 2 1/2 hours we were able to eliminate fields which were not very relevant to our area at this time. My desire was to include some fields for the future in order not to request a revision in a year. During our next session the number and location of categories were determined. As there was no need for further meetings, only the compilation and format of a final proposal, I spent another six to eight hours preparing the proposal, checking and double-checking all the fields and drafting a Disclosure Form for Sellers complete with definitions of the green fields.
The final proposal submitted to the CEO in advance of the August MLS Board meeting was delayed until September as the August meeting was cancelled. On September 15, 2010 the final proposal was accepted without any changes. The MLS green data fields are now in the hands of Innovia, our 3rd party MLS software vendor. With no estimated date of inception it will be interesting to finally see the debut of our new green MLS fields. The five month preparation period can only be shortened or lengthened by the “green” convictions of committee members. My hope is to provide an update within 30-45 days announcing the final success and inauguration of a green St Augustine and St Johns County Multiple Listing Service, confirming the association as the first green MLS in North Florida.
About Jeannette: Since Earth Day 1970 Jeannette’s passion has leaned towards “green” practices. With a national renewed focus on energy efficiency and sustainability it was only natural for her to begin educating herself as a “go to” Broker in the “green” field. In 2009, she was the first Broker north of Melbourne to obtain the National Association of Realtors’ GREEN® designation. Jeannette continued her studies in 2009 to earn the EcoBroker® certification. She is currently involved with the North FL Chapter of USGBC (US Green Building Council) and serves as a Director for the Real Estate Committee of FGBC (Florida Green Building Coalition). Just recently Jeannette became a FGBC Class 3 Energy Rater. As chair of her local Green MLS committee, Jeannette plans to hold seminars for Realtors about the new green MLS fields and offer her services to other MLS Boards in neighboring counties.