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“Over Greening” is There Such a Thing?


“Over Greening” is a phrase I am publicly coining today.  Not even Urban Dictionary has a pithy or perverse definition for this phrase and alas it’s up to me to bring it to the masses.  It’s meant to be a play on the more well known Real Estate phrase “Over Improving.”  As in,  this home is over improved considering it’s location or size.

Minds and Machines Along that vein, one must wonder can there be such a thing as over greening considering the mounting evidence of global warming and impending energy shortage?  Can a home boasting 50-70% reduction in energy usage with a volume of sustainable upgrades offer a buyer or seller a sure a return on investment?

I have worked heavily in this niche for about 3 years now and have run in to more than a few builders who converted from ho-hum spec building to green building with the fervor of a Southern Choir on Sunday morning.    I’ve seen the light right along with them and found myself caught up in the idea of reducing emissions and cleaning up the planet one house at a time.   I have embraced their enthusiasm and championed their success.

I have also witnessed their struggle in trying to sell these homes.  In some cases, at a 30% premium over comparable homes in their market and ultimately finding themselves lucky to turn little to no profit for their time and effort.  Unfortunately, a declining market can bring out the skittish in even the most idealistic buyers and as one builder recently lamented to me, “we were about 5 years to early” it can prove to be a tough sell.

Finding BalanceRockBalance

I listened in on a great webinar today hosted by The Green Resources Council about the EPA’s new Indoor Air Plus program (more to come on that).  There were two bits of data that grabbed me from the session. One was a survey done by McGraw Hill of builders about how they define a green home.  The number one answer was better constructed home in terms of quality of materials and workmanship.  The same question was posed to consumers and the answer was a home with reduced energy costs and healthier indoor air quality.

I think the  Ah Ha! moment from these survey answers  is that there is some gap between builders and buyers in what they expect. In my humble opinion,  in order for green building to succeed, it is necessary to understand the consumer’s expectations for a green home and strike balance between the benefits verses costs in achieving these better building standards.  Much easier said than done but certainly a crucial part of the process for anyone looking to purchase or build a green home.

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Realtors have an interesting roll in this balancing act because they can provide data on how these types of homes perform in their markets and what particular features seem to be gaining the most traction.  I plan  in my next post, to discuss the process of greening your MLS and how you can begin to build some hard data to provide to your clients that will hopefully aid them in building or purchasing green according to their unique market.

In the meantime dive in, think green but make sure you know how deep the pool is.

Written By

Anna Altic – Village Real Estate Services. I’ve called Nashville home for the last 15 years and have been practicing (practice being the key word here) real estate for just over 6 years. In the fall of 2007, I went to a local German Festival that had a home tour, including a LEED certified property, and I instantly became enamored with the idea of eco friendly living (ok, so I’d had a little beer and the dual flush toilet rocked my world). I have since devoted much of my time and energies in to studying and espousing the benefits of better building technology within our local residential market and my proudest accomplishment thus far has been successfully leading the initiative to get over 25 green features added to our MLS search fields.



  1. Nashville Grant

    April 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    There is no doubt that over-greening, over improving, over upgrading or over staging a property is problematic in a declining marketplace. Buyers still want the square footage and tend to give up the luxuries in order to get it. Fast forward 5 years and all of these current homes will be under-greened, under improved and not upgraded enough to garner a top price. Yin and yang, yin and yang.

  2. Brian Copeland

    April 8, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Anna, I’m so glad Agent Genius found you! You are truly one of the most brilliant agents on the green scene today. I’m honored to work with you. Great article.

  3. Maria Patton

    April 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Bravo Anna, excellent and inspiring.

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