With the growing popularity of solar energy, buying and selling a home with solar panels is becoming a reality for thousands of Americans each year.
But what does this mean for home buyers and sellers?
How do you sell your home if it has solar panels? Do solar panels affect the value of a home? Should you buy a home if it has solar panels? Does owning solar versus leasing solar affect the home buying and selling process?
To answer these questions, let’s take a look at the basics of buying and selling a home with solar panels.
SELLING A HOME WITH A SOLAR LOAN
Most solar panel installations in American are bought through loans. Depending on the type of loan you used to buy your solar panels, selling your home will look different.
If you purchased your solar panels through a secured loan, such as a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, you will have to pay off the remaining balance of your home before you sell. This is because your property is used as collateral for the loan. Thankfully, most secured loans do not have prepayment penalties.
If you purchased your solar panels through an unsecured loan, you have much more flexibility. Because the loan is not tied to your property as collateral, you do not have to pay off your loan before selling your home. You can choose to pay off the loan early, or you can continue with payment as usual.
If you have already paid off your loan or paid for your solar panels upfront, you are good to go. The process of selling your home is no different than any other, except now you have an added benefit that appeals to many home buyers (more on that later).
SELLING A HOME WITH A SOLAR LEASE OR PPA
Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) can be good financing options for homeowners that don’t want to buy their solar panels system outright. However, solar leases and PPAs can make selling your home a bit more complicated.
Solar leases and PPAs are similar to renting your solar panel system, so you don’t actually own your solar panels. In these arrangements, the third-party owner (TPO) is responsible for installing and maintaining the solar panels, while you pay them a below-market rate to use the solar electricity during the term of the agreement, often a 20 to 25 year contract. After the contract is up, you can either extend the agreement or have the solar panel system removed.
Because you are in a contract with the TPO, selling or buying a home with a solar lease or PPA requires forethought.
There are two approaches to selling a home with a solar lease or PPA.
- Buy out the remainder of the lease: Buying out your solar lease or PPA allows you to have the solar panels removed, or you can keep the solar panels and sell them with the house. Be sure to check with the TPO to ensure there are no penalties for paying off the lease or PPA early.
- Transfer the lease to the new property owner: As long as the new homeowner meets the TPO’s criteria (credit score, etc.), the solar lease or PPA can be transferred over to their name. It’s important to check with the TPO to ensure everything goes smoothly.
While it is more complicated to sell a home with a solar lease or PPA, it does not necessarily affect the marketability of the home. According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that looked at homes sold with solar loans or PPAs attached, there was no impact on home sale as a result of those contracts.
SOLAR PANELS ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME
Whether you are selling your home or thinking about the implications of buying solar for your home, it’s important to know how solar affects your home value.
The good news is that solar panels actually increase home and property value.
Multiple studies have shown that homes with solar panels sell for more money. These include a study from the real estate website Zillow, as well as a Department of Energy-sponsored study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The study by Zillow found that homes with solar panels sold for an average of 4% more than homes without solar panels.
The study by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory found similar results, with the average solar households selling for $15,000 more than households without solar panels.
WHY DO SOLAR PANELS INCREASE HOME VALUE?
There are several reasons why homes and properties with solar panels sell for more money.
The largest reason why solar homes and properties sell for more money is because of the savings potential. Homes with solar panels can produce their own electricity, which is a large monthly expense for most households. Being able to save that money each money leads to homebuyers paying a premium for solar panels.
This home value increase is even more prominent in areas with high electricity costs. If a household is being charged more per kilowatt, the potential cost savings from solar panels is even greater.
Another reason home values increase with solar panels is because of an increase in environmental concern. Many individuals and families are increasingly concerned about the future of the planet and environment, as well as the future they will leave for their children and grandchildren.
To these individuals and families, solar is not just about financial benefits, but also the opportunities of future generations. To be able to do their part in creating a better future comes with a price they are willing to pay.
Contact Green Ridge Solar today and get your free solar analysis today to see if solar is right for you.
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