Evolving American Households: Experts Weigh In

As part of our research into the impact the Evolving American Household is having on the homebuilding industry, we’re asking a variety of experts to share their insight. At the 2016 Alliance Innovation Summit, you’ll hear from Peter Dennehy of Meyers Research LLC and Amanda Stinton of the National Assocation of REALTORS.

We had a chance to chat with Amanda leading up to the event. Here’s what she had to say.

Amanda Stinton
National Association of REALTORS®
Director, Sustainability & Green Designation




What’s the biggest trend you’ve noticed around families and housing?
Technology, for sure, and the demand comes direct from customers. It’s really important that service people (Realtors®, builders, contractors) understand what people want.

There’s a sweet spot that lies at the intersection of the sustainability industry and the technology industry. The most basic example, one that most people are familiar with, is the Nest thermostat. This falls directly into that sweet spot.

I recently vacationed in Hawaii. When I flew back into Chicago, the temperature was 45 degrees. While still at the airport, my husband pulled out his smart phone and turned on the thermostat to preheat our home.

What’s appealing about a device like Nest is its easy interface. It’s not an arbitrary, complicated piece of technology in homeowners’ homes. It gives them a sense of control that results in cost savings that not only puts money back in their pockets, but also makes them feel like they’re not being wasteful. Last, it provides better comfort in the home.

The control possible with smart devices also ramps up homeowners’ sense of security. For example, devices that alert you when a door is unlocked or locked can help homeowners monitor the activity at their home. When did the children get home from school, or when did the cleaning staff or landscaper arrive? Cameras can work in the same way. The funniest to me, though, is that there are smart appliances that can help, too, like refrigerators that can tell you, “You have produce that will spoil in two days. You might want to use it!”

As time goes on, we’ll see more smart devices that link directly to efficiency and home performance. At NAR, we’re doing a lot of research on the preferences of home buyers and sellers, and development on these types of devices. Some monitor light usage. Others make recommendations on when to replace an air filter. Just as important, we’re engaging homeowners in new way that we haven’t seen before.

How does it matter? All of these smart products are collecting data, especially heating and cooling data. Some consumers are opting-in to share that data with utility companies and the like, which is helping the utility companies to connect into smart grids and create a better big picture of energy efficiency in our country. What we’re hoping is that this data will create an opportunity on the real estate side to better understand home performance, which can be shared during the listing and selling phases.

We’re going to give you 30 seconds to make an elevator pitch.

I manage NAR’s Green REsource Council, a green designation and benefits program that provides real estate agents with advanced training in green building and sustainable business practices. I’d pitch the realtor as a resource—a huge resource. They’re very beneficial to builders. Realtors are there to help bridge the communication gap between the building science and the benefits consumers want in homes. For builders who are looking to integrate home performance, green features, or certifications into a project, use a Realtor who is knowledgeable about those things, an NAR Green designee. They can help you move things along by communicating the benefits of green features to people who will be living there.

In 50 words or less, what’ the most important thing you want to say to builders?

Our industry, especially the sustainability subset is constantly changing—always has been, and always will. The importance of our complementary industries (builders, Realtors, appraisers, lenders, etc.) working together toward the same goal has never been stronger or more important.

Amanda Stinton is currently sustainability director at NAR and oversees NAR’s Green Designation program at the National Association of REALTORS®. She has been with NAR’s Green Designation since its inception in 2008.