Going Green – finally!

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I wrote about my missing signs on Monday. You can call off the dogs. One more “gentle” phone call to the sign company, and my new all-weather, coroplast friends miraculously arrived on my doorstep yesterday morning.

We have now officially launched our first “Green” listing. Before you conjure images of solar panels, windmills gracing the front yard, and a large compost pile with the remnants of last night’s pot roast, I’ll first share the genesis of this idea. It is a baby-step.

Back in December, those traditional days of feel-good giving and in the wake of my company’s push to have agents get “Green Certified” (whatever that means), I was struck by the hypocrisy of our industry. Now, I haven’t pursued the “EcoBroker” designation, but one our Buyers’ Specialists, John Lowe, is in the process of getting certified. According to Prudential California Realty:

Prudential professionals that have earned the EcoBroker Certified designation have successfully completed a unique and informative training program on the energy and environmental issues that affect real estate transactions.

This is all good, but the punch line is that the real estate industry arguably leads the pack when it comes to waste. We may be the single largest killer of natural resources next to the Ikea Catalogue. Steve and I had one listing recently which alone consumed 800 glossy brochures, not counting the brochures which were mailed, brochures which for the most part spent one nanosecond in the hands of the neighbors before finding a more permanent home in the trash bin.

This assault on our environment coupled with the continuing consumer migration online suggested to me that we need to start thinking about a different way of doing things. It is not practical to quit providing brochures for our selling clients entirely; sellers need exposure, buyers need information, and buyers still live in the real, off-line world. Yet, we know that online is where we want the would-be buyers to be. It is not only more efficient, it is more informative. A brochure can hold just so much information. It can’t provide a video, it can’t link to community information or market stats, and it simply can not present a home in the most comprehensive and compelling light. Combine that with our own selfish desire to expand our online reach, and we are suddenly inspired to give the hold-out favorers of print media a little nudge.

So here is our program:

  • Our curbside concierge will continue to host the traditional trappings: Full-color brochures, “listing lights” which illuminate the sign after dark, the slightly personalized but company-mandated hanging yard sign, and the sign rider displaying the unique property web address.
  • All of our brochures (and all of our other print marketing materials) will now be produced on recycled paper. It costs more, and that’s okay.
  • Our sign posts, which are admittedly getting a little busy, will now display the Going Green placard with the following:

Brochures are made from paper, and paper comes from trees. We are committed to doing our part, however small, to protect the environment.

Please feel free to take a brochure which, we are proud to say, is printed on recycled paper. As an alternative, however, you may wish to take a Web Card. Our Web Card gives you the address on the Internet where you will find all of the property information shown on the brochure plus additional photos, a virtual tour, the floor plan and more!

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  • Above the brochures, we will be providing Web Cards, offered as an alternative to the big, fancy, expensive and wasteful brochures. The Web Card contains all any casual looker really wants to know about the home: The address, the size, and the price. Most importantly, the Web Card provides the web address where the home will be presented in all of its glory. These, too, are printed on recycled paper stock, of course.

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Again, this is just a little step in the right direction, but if it works, it will be a huge win-win. The seller still gets all of the marketing material he did before but more. We have made one more distinction between ourselves and the gobzillion other agents doing business-as-usual. From a cost standpoint, while the brochures are now more expensive, one brochure equals approximately a dozen Web Cards, so the potential savings in both dollars and trees is enormous.  The ultimate goal, of course, it to move people online where I can promote both my client’s home and my own services much more effectively.

Our Beta home will be an interesting experiment. Positioned on the corner of a highly-trafficked street, this home begs for brochure over-consumption. Ordinarily, we would expect to burn through 100 or so a week for a home in this location. We will know very soon whether our project was a success, and we will report back.

I predict that there will come a day when the property flyer is as antiquated as the abacus, but that day is in the very distant future. In the meantime, I hope we can all do our small part to speed things along. “It’s Your Move!”

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