In the fall of 2019, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) contracted with ILLUME Advising to conduct focus groups with residential new construction raters. These sessions occurred during the Home Efficiency Forum in Portland, Ore. In support of NEEA's Next Step Homes program, the research intended to increase understanding of the business practices of raters in the region and to gain insights into the decisions they make regarding certifications and business models. A key learning of this research suggests that raters rely heavily on builders for their work and are dedicated to developing strong and trusting relationships with them. Given the complexities of navigating different jurisdictions, codes and program requirements, raters view their role as one of trusted and valued partner to builders.