Energy efficiency is major topic as realtors gather

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(Host) Vermont Realtors are getting together at their annual meeting this week, and a lot of the discussion is about energy efficient homes.


As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, the real estate industry also hopes to capitalize on consumers’ interest in combating global climate change.


VPR’s Ross Sneyd has a preview.


(Sneyd) Real estate agents have been hit hard by the crisis in so-called "sub-prime" mortgages.


Nationally, home sales were off more than 11% during the second quarter of the year.


But Vermont has been relatively isolated.


Lawrence Yun, senior economist with the National Association of Realtors, says Vermont sales declined just two-point-three percent in the second quarter.


He believes a recovery will begin within a matter of months.


(Yun) "For Vermont, because things have been far more stable, I continue to see a stabilizing trend. And when the national trend rises, I think some of the confidence of Vermont homebuyers will also be lifted."


(Sneyd) Real estate agents say that even if that proves to be true, homebuyers are demanding properties that are kinder to the environment.


Bob Hill of the Vermont Association of Realtors says potential buyers have been demanding homes that fit their environmental ethic.


(Hill) "Across the country people are realizing that it’s their responsibility to make a difference. And so the consumer is driving the marketplace now. When they’re looking for a home, they want a home that they feel like is energy efficient, that conforms to standards that will have the least impact on the environment. So they’re coming to our members. They’re actually coming asking for this."


(Sneyd) But price is almost always a deciding factor in whether someone buys a particular property.


So Yun of the national association says it’s unproven whether a “green” real estate movement will be a hit or just a passing fad.


(Yun) "It’s just a matter of whether the consumers will be willing to pay a higher price for that. And because we’re at an early stage of that, it’s hard to differentiate whether that demand is rising or not."

(Sneyd) Yun says the industry is watching Vail, Colorado, for green trends.


A lot of environmentally friendly housing has been built there and the market there has held up better in the recent downturn.


For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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