Kristi Neidhardt – An Interview with an Eco Agent
We sat down with Eco Agent Kristi Neidhardt to discuss green realty and how home buyers can maximize their energy efficiency and find their ideal home. Read on for the interview below, and check out Kristi’s bio, some testimonials from her clients, and a list of the amazing organizations that Kristi’s team had contributed to.
How did you first get into real estate?
I started in 2003. I’d been in the non-profit world and was burnt out and wanted to make more money to fundraise some of the causes I was passionate about. Originally, I wanted to flip houses but I realized I was in over my head and didn’t have the finances for it.
So I earned my realtor’s license and sold my first property. I realized I loved the detective-work aspect of realty. Real estate involves so many fields…marketing, and data, and statistical analysis. I especially enjoy working and talking with people and negotiating for my clients–looking out for their best interests.
My college degree is in Environmental Resource Management from VA Tech, so I wanted to focus my career on green homes. I would educate people on truly green homes and help them understand what that meant. I didn’t want to be the “typical salesman” type of realtor. I wanted to serve my passion for the environment and the housing market at the same time.
How have you incorporated your environmental stewardship into your company?
There weren’t enough green homes to sell green homes exclusively, so I focused on creating a green business. I offer home energy audits to all my buyers so that they can all be more efficient. It helps them save money and live green. They have a roadmap for efficiency. I also plant 100 trees through Trees For the Future after every close. A lot of paper is used by realtors, and I want to make up for that. Our website is wind-powered, hosted by a company that purchases wind power. Almost all of my clients need moving services, so we work with a moving company that drops off recyclable containers for people who are moving. It helps reduce the need for new packing materials.
We also have a Spring Clean-up Day where people can bring stuff to be recycled or reused. This year it’s on May 10th, and people can come and recycle stuff. People recycle clothing, household goods, and books
What do you like most about being a green realtor?
Being able to make an impact in more people’s lives through those Energy Audits, because I knows I’m decreasing the amount of energy being used, and it’s more than just doing it in one home. For me it’s almost like philanthropy.
When homebuyers come to you, what are they usually looking for?
The vast majority, about ninety percent, don’t know much about green energy and efficient homes. They’re looking for turn-key, easy move-in homes. I provide them with environmental impact information and the energy audit to help them live greener. Some people who are looking for a green home are looking to build a new home that’s very green. But there are some problems with that. First, it’s very challenging to find land that’s within most client’s requests. Secondly, it’s better to take an existing home and make it more green. Looking at existing homes opens up a whole new world of possibilities for them as well. They can look in more locations, at more types of homes, and know that they can still make the home green through renovations or upgrades.
When homebuyers come to you, what aren’t they usually looking for that they should be?
The biggest thing that homebuyers should do is look at all of the home’s bills together. Especially for first time homebuyers. Buyers should look at mortgage payment plus all the utilities. When you start to look at the energy bill plus the mortgage you can sometimes afford more. In Montgomery County, the utility information is easily available. In other counties the information is public but isn’t as easy to find.
The second biggest thing is to talk to your future potential neighbors! Speak with a few of them to find out what it’s like living in the neighborhood. You can find out about all sorts of dynamics that you don’t usually think of.
What do you think the future of green homes looks like?
People are slowly becoming more educated about energy bills, and people will look at their energy usage more and more. People will begin to think about solar, geothermal, insulation, and other issues. With existing homes a lot of people ask about solar and I recommend that they get an energy audit first. I tell people that getting solar first is like getting a new engine for your sports car with flat tires tires.
What should people in our area know about the green home market in 2014?
There are lots of options out there! There are a wide variety of ways to have a green home. Buy a new one, or renovate an old one. Green is becoming more and more of a selling feature. By the time you sell seven or ten years later, green homes will be the standard, so you’re making an investment in your resale value and it will pay off down the road.
What was your aha-moment for being involved in sustainability?
Growing up both my parents were environmentalists and scientists, so the environment and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was a part of my childhood. I learned from them and environmental stewardship made so much sense. I like the idea of being able to give back to something that’s universal. With real estate, I found I could have a really significant impact. If I tried to have this type of impact just on my own it would be impossible, but through my work the aggregate effects can be tremendous.
Kristi Neidhardt Home Selling Team