What’s a green realtor? Ask John Snyder-White

MIDDLEBURY — Champlain Valley Properties Realtor John Snyder-White was recently awarded the National Association of Realtors Green Designation, recognizing him as a professional who is specifically trained to help buyers or sellers with transfers of “green” properties.
The Addison Independent’s Christy Lynn spoke with Snyder-White to find out a little more about what that designation means and how it may offer additional benefits to his clients.
Addy Indy:What does this designation mean and how do you qualify?
Snyder-White: The Green Designation is a certification given by the National Association of Realtors to agents who are interested in green building, energy efficiency, community development and being a source of knowledge for others in the field. I am able to help clients find building professionals who specialize in green design, energy efficiency work and modern technology upgrades that help cut usage.
However, it doesn’t just have to do with energy usage. Part of being “green” also involves a property’s walkability, its access to public transportation, integrated “smart” technology and also any renewable resources that may be part of the system.
Addy Indy:What particular training did you go through in order to achieve this designation and why was Champlain Valley Properties interested in having you designated?
Snyder-White: First, I am a Realtor and member of the National Association of Realtors, which is required in order to obtain this designation. I did also complete 12 hours of related coursework and have attended a number of conferences related to green and renewable energy. Mostly, I’m just interested in energy efficiency and think it’s an important factor to consider when purchasing a home, so I wanted to pursue this independently.
On my own I have attended different events and met builders and contractors and other professionals around the state who specialize in green building and energy efficiency. This database of resources helps me be able to recommend experts to clients who are looking to improve their property’s energy efficiency before or after a sale.
Having a Realtor on staff at Champlain Valley Properties with the Green Designation does have benefits as I can be a “source of the source” for other agents as well as clients who may not have as many of these contacts for service providers and resources.
Addy Indy:Do you have a special interest in “green” technology and “green” buildings?
Snyder-White: Yes. For me, considering the energy efficiency of a home does match my personal ethics, but I also just think it makes practical sense. Many buyers are conscious about spending and energy bills can be very high. Having a clear understanding of the energy usage of a home before you buy or sell can help set expectations or plans for upgrades and maintenance going forward.
I also really like tech and find it very interesting to help people understand how modern technology and tools can help reduce energy usage and cost without a lot of effort. Things like smart thermostats and lights can help older housing stock perform to higher and more modern standards of efficiency.
I love how technology is constantly changing and there are always new tools to help clients understand and utilize that make their homes more efficient. A “smart home” may seem intimidating to a buyer, so it can be helpful to have an agent guide that person along the way, starting slowly and introducing new technology once they’re ready to take on something new. That can help make it feel more reasonable to consider purchasing an older home and working through a renovation project to upgrade the insulation and performance and introduce some more modern technology to help it perform at a reasonable level.
Addy Indy:Do you think the real estate industry is appropriately responding to new green developments in the building trades? Are house prices and values reflecting the energy demands and efficiency standards of the property?
Snyder-White: Yes, I think the real estate market has done a lot of work to stay in touch with new developments in energy efficiency. The local MLS (multiple listing service) has done a lot to re-evaluate properties with efficient designs and has offered new search criteria to help limit results to those that meet certain “green” standards.
There are some parts of the equation that are a little slow to recalibrate for these high-performing homes. For example, some of the banks and appraisers just don’t have the comparables yet to be able to understand how a net zero house should be appraised or what differences in the lending profile can be expected considering the low or non-existing utility bills for those homeowners.
But it’s getting better and better and hopefully as more properties upgrade and are bought and sold the capacity to perform an appropriate CMA (or comparable market analysis) will come with it.
Addy Indy:How much do you see current buyers paying attention to the energy efficiency of a property and how do those features stack up to other things on their list?
Snyder-White: Buyers are definitely looking at cost, so energy usage and projected costs are definitely important. People are starting to really understand that a home with greater energy efficiency, better insulation and newer tech features might cost more upfront because those building materials are expensive, but they see that their bills going forward could be much lower than a cheaper home that leaks and will cost a lot to heat and maintain.
That’s encouraging because it means people are willing to look at the cost of a home over a longer period of time, considering the ongoing costs as well as the upfront costs. Green homes cost a lot less to heat and operate, which often equalizes over 10 or 20 years, even if the upfront cost is significantly higher.
Having this longer-term vision can also encourage buyers looking at older homes to consider renovation projects along with the purchase of the house. Even if they just plan to chip away at those projects one-by-one over a long period of time, each one will help them gain more efficiency.
I think it’s really neat that people can do something really active to affect the operation and functionality of their home. New tech allows people to get more involved in how their home is performing and you can get apps and devices that help control temperature, humidity and pressure of the climate as well as do things like turn on outside lights before you’re going to come home in the dark of winter. That’s pretty cool and I like being able to introduce these things to people.
Addy Indy:Are you seeing more people interested in moving into town centers and living in tighter communities, or are is there still a great value placed on the 5-acre private lot in the country?
Snyder-White: Certainly there are still a lot of people who want the privacy and space of their own. That’s especially common among people who are moving to Vermont from more urban areas and are trying to get out of the bustle of a condensed life.
However, we are seeing a lot of people who want the ease and enjoy the practical benefits of living in town centers. There’s a growing population that values the walkability and “green” nature of living where you don’t have to commute.
Addy Indy:What kind of home do you live in? If you could buy a home, what would you look for?
Snyder-White: I am currently renting an old and somewhat drafty house, but I have done what I can with LED lights and a smart light in the bedroom.
If I could buy a home I would look for an older home with great character and I would try to add insulation to get the heating bills very low and rehab it as much as possible to bring it up to higher energy standards. I would want smart thermostats and would consider a solar installation.
Walkability is very important to me because I like having access to the community without having to rely on my own transportation.
That said, I recently went down to look at the Vermods and while I’m not sure they’re for me, they are pretty cool too.

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