Why estate agents need to fly the flag for eco properties

Sustainability has been at the forefront of many company agendas in recent years, and the property market is no exception. In fact, the demand for sustainable estate agencies has risen considerably and is expected to accelerate further as younger generations join the housing market. Prospective buyers are keen to find agents who understand the importance of sustainability and it’s a differentiator that sets you and your competitors apart. 

The benefits of creating a culture around sustainability

Estate agents impact the environment in several ways, and there are various changes that agencies can make to put themselves in an eco-friendlier position. From reducing paper waste from brochures, contracts and mail campaigns, to cutting carbon emissions from unnecessary travel and e-waste from outdated electronics, estate agents create waste and pollution in various ways. But making changes such as virtual tours instead of in-person viewings, recycling e-waste and promoting eco homes can all help to create an eco-friendlier agency. 

There are several advantages to fostering a sustainability culture. Firstly, an eco-conscious agency attracts like-minded clients. A sustainability-focused culture can attract clients who value environmentally-friendly practices, and who may be more likely to choose an agency that shares their values. It’s a differentiation from other agencies that creates a unique selling point, and enhances an agency’s reputation. The UK has specific net zero targets and each business that contributes in any way helps the UK achieve those goals. Implementing sustainable practices has a positive impact on the environment as a whole and contributes to a better future. 

Homeowners are seeking out energy-efficient properties more and more, particularly younger buyers. Meanwhile, millennials and Gen Z comprise a large percentage of today’s workforce and they prefer working with sustainable organisations. They’re more inclined to embrace sustainability and highlighting the efforts your agency makes in this regard can go a long way to attracting these types of homebuyers. 

What’s more, they’re more likely to pay a premium price for sustainability initiatives and eco-homes which offer long-term savings. For agents, there’s a sizable market for sustainable homes and an opportunity to earn more from premium prices. But where do agents begin in flying the flag for eco homes and what changes can they make in supporting their clients in finding these types of properties?

How to support clients in finding eco properties

As part of being a leader in the sustainable space, estate agents need to know how to effectively support clients in finding their dream eco home. 

The first is to make sure clients are familiar with what’s required when renovating an existing property to make it sustainable. For example, does the property have the correct permissions in place for renovations, is the property suitable for renewable energy systems and do they have party wall agreements in place? 

The government’s Green Deal scheme assists homeowners with making energy-saving improvements, from insulation upgrades to lighting and new windows or doors, so buyers may be looking to take advantage of this with a new property. Working with a surveyor will help clients answer these questions, and more, ensuring that they have all the correct legislation in place to develop a greener property. 

Staying on top of recent trends and technologies will help agents to provide suggestions on how a homeowner may make suitable changes to a property to help it sell when it goes on the market or to offer guidance on opportunities that existing properties have for buyers. For example, green heat systems are growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional heating, but many older homes don’t have sufficient insulation in place to make these an effective installation. 

Having this understanding and knowledge will help agents guide property owners, both existing and aspiring, in the right direction. It can also help for estate agents to build a network of businesses you can direct clients to, from renewables specialists and eco-friendly construction firms and surveyors with eco specialisms.  

How estate agents can adapt their operations

Estate agents who are selling sustainability need to be role models and walk the walk. Luckily, there are several ways they can do this within their businesses. 

For starters, estate agencies can make good on their eco claims and do more to recycle where possible and invest in sustainable or second hand tech when necessary. Switching to virtual tours of properties, at least for initial viewings, can help to cut back on the carbon emissions which come from travelling to and from properties all day. Meeting virtually is convenient for prospective buyers and renters, and eliminates the need for viewers and staff from driving to the property. Clients naturally will want to see the property in person if they’re set on putting in an offer, but for prior viewings, virtual tours are a highly effective solution. 

Agencies can also upgrade to electric vehicles for staff to not only reduce the carbon footprint of the business but also cut costs on fuel, and present an eco-conscious image to clients. It’s an initial investment for estate agencies but one which can offer savings in the long-run and cement an agency’s reputation as a champion of sustainability. 

Eco-friendly estate agents also need to showcase their eco credentials by updating their unique selling points in their company literature, both in print and online publications as well as smart SEO practices to optimise their websites. Highlighting a dedication to being sustainable with examples and description of properties they list on their website is a great start. With clever content and photos, you can highlight everything from the EPC ratings and cavity wall insulation to solar panels, double-glazed windows and smart thermostats.

Sustainability is the future, and estate agents can successfully set themselves apart from the competition by highlighting the features and property styles that home seekers are looking for now. The demand for green properties will only grow as time moves on, and agencies need to recognise this trend and adapt to it in order to push the sale of more eco-friendly homes. Creating a culture around sustainability within an estate agency can lead to attracting environmentally-conscious clients, but it also offers differentiation from competitors, cost savings, an improved reputation and a generally positive impact on the environment to contribute to broader net zero targets.

Written by Agency Express guest writer Annie Button