National and State Realtor Associations Make the Environment and Sustainability a Priority Issue  

Many people, I’ve found, assume that Realtors, especially the top producers, must be conservatives who resist social policies, tax increases and liberal agenda items in general. That could include denial of human-caused climate change and opposition to any mandates that interfere with “individual freedom” such as mask or vaccine mandates.

Well, I’m pleased to report that, at the association level, we’re a pretty liberal bunch. Yes, I know a few Realtors who are hard-core Trumpers and live by the words of Tucker Carlson, but they’re in the minority.

Those Realtors would not have been pleased when the president of the National Association of Realtors apologized for NAR’s support of racist policies earlier in its 110-year history in his speech to the annual convention. Compare that to conservatives across the country wanting to ban books and classroom discussion about “critical race theory,” intended to rally the conversative base to vote out liberals on local school boards and elsewhere.

Then I read on pages 16-18 of the May issue of Colorado Realtor Magazine about NAR’s commitment to “ESG+R,” which stands for Environmental, Social, Governance + Resilience.

As the article explains, ESG “is a set of standards for a company or practitioner’s operations that investors (or consumers) use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria measure how that company or practitioner perform as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance refers to policies around leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. In short, ESG evaluates if a company, organization, or practitioner is operating sustainably. Globally, sustainability is rated as an important purchase criterion for 60% of consumers.”

The Realtor associations go beyond ESG to add R for Resilience, which is an aspect of sustainability.

Knowing Golden Real Estate’s (and my personal) commitment to such issues, you can understand how pleased I was to read of NAR’s commitment to the same values.

The fact that the Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR) featured this NAR initiative in their monthly magazine suggests that Colorado Realtors are, through their association, fully on board with this issue.

What follows are some excerpts from the article which spoke to me:

“Sustainability is the evolution of long-term value creation for people, planet, and the economy. If sustainability is the journey, then ESG is how we measure progress,” said Ryan Frazier, CEO of Frazier Global, a Colorado-based management consulting and environmental, social, governance (ESG) advisory business.

“We must integrate a culture of sustainability throughout our association and industry. By building a resilient real estate market today, we can create healthy, vibrant, and diverse communities for generations to come,” said 2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith.

“Leading by example, NAR is driving the real estate industry toward a more efficient and sustainable future,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. “As part of this responsibility, we are strengthening the association’s support of sustainability efforts and increasing engagement on policies and programs that prioritize viability, resiliency, and adaptability. We are working to generate meaningful, lasting change that will benefit both current and future generations.”

Millennials now make up 43% of homebuyers, the most of any generation, according to a 2021 report from the National Association of Realtors—and that number is only predicted to rise. And this generation has a reputation for being values-driven in their approach to their money and their careers. These choices drive where they choose to work, play, and buy a home. About one-third of millennials often or exclusively use investments that take ESG factors into account, compared with 19% of Gen Z, 16% of Gen X and 2% of baby boomers, according to a Harris Poll on behalf of CNBC, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults ages 30 to 40 on a variety of topics. The escalating importance of ESG doesn’t just impact homebuyer sentiment. It will also matter to brokerage firms looking to hire the best and brightest agents. Companies that promote strong ESG values tend to attract and retain the best talent.

The Purple Report on ESG and Real Estate [by NAR] had 703 respondents. 51% live in Colorado and own a home or want to own a home in Colorado and 49% live outside the state but expressed an interest in buying a home in the state.

KEY FINDINGS:

When asked, are you more likely or less likely to work with a Realtor who has a proficient level of knowledge and training on sustainability and sustainable housing practices when it comes to buying, selling, or investing in a home? 70% of respondents were somewhat or much more likely.

When asked, do you agree or disagree with the viewpoint that as the number of severe weather conditions, droughts, wildfires increase due in part to climate change, and with the potential risk to homes and commercial properties, Realtors need to be helping provide solutions that address climate change risks? 67% of respondents said they agree. The number jumped to 80% among those ages 18-24, and to 79% of those earning $150,000 a year or more.

As the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics preamble tells us, “Under all is the land.”  Our planet is the one resource we all depend on, as will our heirs. The best time to care for it — and for them — is now.