I recently wrote about a chance encounter with my first eco-broker who also happens to be Minnesota’s first eco-broker. The term eco-broker was new to me, and the more I learned about the specialization, the more enthralled I grew. This was someone who liked talking and learning and debating green topics as much as I did — probably even more than I did.
The earth benefits of eco-brokering are self-evident. But I wanted to know how certification helped an agent’s business, so I sat down with Gina Vermilyea to discuss eco-brokering and what led her to get certified.
For Gina, it all started about six years ago when she read an NAR article on the subject. Specializing in sustainability and efficiency resonated with her, so she set out to become the state’s first eco-broker certified real estate professional. “It was a race against time,” she said. And in the end, she walked away with the title.
Since then, Gina has aggressively marketed herself as Minnesota’s first eco-broker, a unique aspect of her expertise that she makes sure is clearly marked on her business cards. She leverages green listings and her designation has been a significant factor in driving people to her.
According to Gina, one of the greatest certification perks is working with buyers who are interested in sustainability. She enjoys educating those who are new but curious about green technologies, strategies and concepts. Defining sustainability for each client is a critical part of the process. “I don’t impose standards,” explains Gina. “I listen to where people are and support them.”
Of course, being Minnesota’s first eco-broker doesn’t come without a few challenges. One particularly irksome challenge is the assumption that Gina only handles green properties. She turns this around by responding: “I can sell anything. I can help you uncover green attributes you don’t even know about.” Another challenge is dealing with exaggerated expectations of what can be accomplished in the current market. Green or no green, it still boils down to what the market can support.
Typically Gina recommends a home energy audit as a good starting point for assessment of any property. She also believes that all agents – not just eco-brokers – should be trained in energy efficiency. Understanding house systems rates high on her list as well. “We can’t assess energy efficiency without knowing the systems of the house,” says Gina.
The best part of being an eco-broker is “feeling useful for people.” Does the rising popularity of eco-broker certification scare Gina? “Friendly competition is good,” Gina assures me. “I like to collaborate.” And no matter how many eco-brokers there are, she will always be Minnesota’s first.
Any other eco-brokers out there?