If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
One trend I will be both tracking and trying to advance in 2013 is an index of high-performance homes. To date, the trade groups that have a count know their own count. And many other programs and groups either don’t have a count, or they just don’t have enough to measure up yet.
Real estate is a lagging industry. We don’t predict or influence trends. Rather we reflect what happened in the past. Whether it is an appraisal, listing price recommendation or updating advice – we always react to what sold last month, and to movement in an overall sub-segment.
If the pie gets cut too many ways, a sub-segment doesn’t exist! And until we can see and compare movement in pricing, market times and volume we have nothing to work with.
There’s progress. The DOE’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program is all about tracking and metrics. USGBC recently released their Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) and NHAB Research Center has a green home counter on their website.
But what the high-performance industry needs more than anything else in 2013 is a way to track the whole pie, by MLS service area (roughly the same as a metro statistical area). And not how many Home Performance with Energy Star homes in that area. Or LEED homes. But all the homes regardless of which program.
For example, when I looked at MLS data in my home area of Chicago I found that 20% of new homes build in 2012 had some sort of high-performance third-party verification. (More on this coming soon.) Twenty percent! That’s huge because there was little fanfare when MLS fields were rolled out, huge because this is all before our new energy-efficiency building codes kicked in on January 1 and huge because 20% represents a significant milestone in the type of data that is accessible for appraisals.
Now, how can we work together to make a sound?