NAR Survey Highlights the Need to Talk About Sustainability

A March 2022 survey of realtors indicates clients’ interest in energy-efficient homes, the value of promoting sustainability, and the best ways of communicating wants and needs with builders.
Realtors, builders, and buyers can learn tips to communicate sustainability needs

More than half of homebuyers are interested in sustainability, according to the study. Photo by Alena Darmel from Pexels

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently surveyed its members on issues pertaining to residential sustainability. The March 2022 survey contained over 2,600 responses, and had some key findings and takeaways.

Most notably, realtors have found that the promotion of energy-efficient properties is valuable, and that clients have some interest in sustainability as well.


  • According to the survey, 35% of respondents reported that their Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has green data fields, and respondents typically used the green data fields to promote green features and energy information.

And although 13% of realtors used their MLS green data fields to promote green certifications, 44% of homes with green certifications spent neither more nor less time on the market.

  • Sixty-three percent of realtors said energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable.

Graph of value of energy efficiency promotion from National Association of Realtors
Value of Energy Efficiency Promotion from the 2022 REALTORS® and Sustainability Report – Residential. Photo courtesy National Association of Realtors

  • Over half (51%) of respondents found clients were at least somewhat interested in sustainability.

Comparatively, 28% were neutral, neither interested or uninterested in the topic.

  • Most (77%) respondents said properties with solar panels were available in their market.

Thirty-six percent said properties with solar panels increased the perceived property value.

  • The home features clients listed as very important to their agent or broker included windows, doors, and siding, proximity to frequently visited places, and a comfortable living space.

Graph of importance of home features to clients from National Association of Realtors
Importance of Home Features to Clients from the 2022 REALTORS® and Sustainability Report – Residential. Photo courtesy National Association of Realtors

Just over half (51%) of respondents listed operation costs/utility bills as somewhat important.

As far as sustainable neighborhood features, clients mostly looked for homes with greater proximity to schools (74%). Access to shopping was a close second at 68%.

It’s interesting to note the most important feature being access to schools, given the median age of survey participants was 55 years old.

  • 11% of realtors said that a high-performance home (defined as a systematic building science approach to home improvements that increase indoor comfort, health, operational efficiency, and durability) had an increase of 1–5% of the dollar value offered compared to other similar homes.

Nineteen percent of respondents said that high-performance homes have no impact on dollar value compared to similar homes.

  • Half (50%) of respondents said that in the past 12 months they had been directly involved with a property that had green features, either on the buyer or seller side.

Though they’d been involved in buying or selling a sustainable property, not all realtors are confident in their ability to communicate the homes’ benefits.

In the survey, just 33% of respondents were extremely comfortable or comfortable answering clients’ questions about home performance. Nineteen percent said they were uncomfortable doing so, and 5% were extremely uncomfortable.

There’s a certain lack of confidence, it seems, in realtors' abilities to explain sustainable features of the home. The National Association of Realtors knows this, and has even partnered with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to solve this problem.

Home Performance Counts is a joint education initiative put together by NAHB and NAR. The goal of this is to educate homebuyers on high-performance homes, and help them figure out what they really want when purchasing a new one.


The Home Performance Counts initiative provides consumers with comprehensive resources on the benefits and qualities of a high-performance home. Not only this, but it fosters a line of communication between buyers, builders, and real estate agents.

"Clients come to our members looking for the very best home they can afford, with green building practices often leading to homes that are more durable and require less maintenance." — Vince Malta, President, National Association of Realtors

Homebuyers are given education of high-performance home qualities, directories for builders and realtors in their area, and tools to help them communicate their wants and needs in common terms.

The partnership will also benefit builders and realtors through its growing collection of data trends and information, according to Chuck Fowke, NAHB chairman. The two groups will benefit from communication tools that explain the value of high-performance homes, and will learn the best practices for positioning their business in the competitive marketplace.

In the end, it’s a website to help these groups get on the same page during the process of homebuying. Builders can understand what the homebuyer is really asking for—even when they don’t know how.

About The Author

Quinn Purcell, Managing Editor

Quinn Purcell

Quinn Purcell is a graduate of Idaho State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, and an emphasis in Multiplatform Journalism. He specializes in video, photography, copywriting, graphic design, and even music production. He currently serves as Managing Editor for Utopia and Building Design+Construction. When he's not working you can usually find Quinn at a local brewery, or watching true crime shows with his cat.

Connect with Quinn on LinkedIn