Monday, September 27, 2010

Q&A: Arbour Realty's Genevieve Concannon and Adam Gallegos

Green D.C. recently participated in an email Q&A with Arbour Realty Founder Adam Gallegos and Director of Business Development Genevieve Concannon. They provide readers with insight into the emerging field of green real estate and Arbour Realty's efforts as the first sustainable real estate company in the D.C. area.

Green D.C.: What is Arbour Realty and what is a green real estate company?

Arbour Realty: Arbour Realty is the DC area's first green real estate firm and now the leader in technology and social media innovation in the real estate community. This means that Arbour Realty is founded on green living and sustainable principles, teams up with ecobroker professionals and employs advanced technology and social media into their real estate platform. What this means for their clients is that they have highly educated agents on their side who understand the market, the importance of energy efficiency and healthy living in the homes. Meanwhile, the Arbour Realty team is aggressively approaching the social media market with very relevant blogs, tips and community information. We are constantly seeking out the latest and greatest technology that will enable our clients to have an even more seamless transaction while remaining as conscious of our carbon footprint as possible.

GDC: Why was Arbour Realty started in this tough real estate market?

AR: Adam Gallegos, the founder of Arbour Realty already had a strong following of referral based real estate business. This foundation provided him with the confidence to break off from Re/Max (a recognized real estate brand) to start local firm, Arbour Realty. Adam felt strongly about creating an environmentally responsible business and could tell that the real estate industry is entering a major evolution. The distinction between “green” and “not green” is dissolving. Demand for more efficient, healthier homes is causing new home builders and home renovation companies to change the way they have been doing this since they entered the business. We see this happening very quickly with commercial real estate and residential is not far behind. You wouldn’t think about investing in a new commercial building if it was not going to be built to LEED standards. USA Today today recently reported that green building now accounts for 1/3 of new U.S. Construction. As more consumers demand a real estate team that can help them find more efficient healther homes, Arbour Realty is becoming the firm of choice in the DC area.

GDC: What sets Arbour Realty apart from other real estate companies in the D.C. Area?

AR: Arbour Realty stands on the forefront of real estate brokerages in the DC metro area because we are constantly striving for the latest technology for our clients. We have an incredibly user friendly website that enables clients and shoppers to view communities and do their due diligence before they even get started on their search. We use paperless office systems such as docusign to encourage time and paper saving techniques, we staff only ecobroker agents, and even have some LEED certified professionals on our team. Our agents are able to give their clients intimate knowledge of green building, healthy living and current market conditions to better guide their clients through their real estate transactions. Above all, Arbour Realty was selected out of thousands of real estate brokerages to be better homes and gardens real estate brokerage to watch for the Mid-Atlantic region due to all of the amazing technology that we incorporate into our business. We are also a gold certified green business, and are highly active in community building by putting on local lectures, promoting community involvement and offering a more consultative approach to the real estate process.

GDC: What is an ecobroker and what sort of education is required to be a certified agent?

AR: Ecobrokers are agents who have gone through extensive training to understand green building principles and healthy living practices. There is a strict curriculum outlined by the now eight year old program that ensures that ecobroker agents have the knowledge of environmentally sensitive issues, green building, comfort and health issues; all of these things marry into a strong agent who can effectively educate and guide their client to the best home for their needs. These agents, such as those on our team, are, again, able to guide their clients to cost effective, energy efficient homes that they will be healthy and comfortable in. Armed with this knowledge and the knowledge of their own market, ecobroker agents can really help their client understand what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, and own a home that is energy efficient and hopefully, in the long run, will have a greater return on their investment.

GDC: What criteria do you use to select your vendors?

AR: We incorporate vendor partners who are also led by a green commitment in their business practices, for instance, we partner with green living consulting to provide actionable healthy living plans for our clients once they are in their home. Green living consulting is founded on the same principles as Arbour Realty in that the owners practice what they preach, and are hugely active in the educational community. We also work with vendors whom we have done actual projects with, and feel that their integrity and value are unrivaled and really mirror our own core values.

GDC: What is green about your business practices?

AR: We have a green commitment that we would love for you to take a look at that outlines a very good portion of the reasons Arbour Realty is a green business.

GDC: Why is this a good time to go green if you are buying or selling your home?

AR: There are some great loan programs available that make it possible to improve the performance of any home. With as little as 3.5% down, you can purchase a home and make a number of improvements with additional money borrowed. Lenders already understand the additional value that such improvements make to a home. We are happy to talk to you more about your individual situation and goals.

For any improvements you plan to make to your home it is worthwhile to consider some eco-friendly options. Stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops do not capture the attention of a buyer like they did a few years ago. I’ve hosted open houses where potential buyers were much more impressed with some of the newest eco-friendly materials. If you plan to keep your home for several years or more, you will want improvements you make, to keep up with times.

GDC: What advice do you have for home buyers and sellers who might be curious about going green but are skeptical of the costs and don't know where to begin?

AR: The best place to start is with a home energy audit. A good auditor can make low and no-cost recommendations that can improve the efficiency and value of your home. They can also recommend ways to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to larger investments. The additional return on investment can happen a lot quicker than some consumers might think. We post a lot of tips and suggestions for free on our website, Twitter and Facebook page. You are welcome to check some of those out.

GDC: Any other information you would like add?

AR: We work with a lot of different people in the DC area with varying degrees of interest in “green.” Some, flat out don’t care. They just want to work with Arbour Realty because they have heard great things about the results we produce and the customer service. We love these clients just as much. What’s funny, is that they often find themselves asking questions about energy efficiency and healthy indoor air quality at some point during the home buying or selling process. We like to educate consumers when they are interested, but we are not hear to push our ideas on anyone. We simply want to provide a better customer experience than can be found at any other firm in the DC area. We will continue keeping a light carbon footprint in the meantime.

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