Energy savings and smart technology constitute some of the most attractive features for homeowners today, and solar panels certainly can be a bonus for prospective buyers. If you’re thinking of selling a home with existing solar panels, you’ll want to target green features and sustainability as part of your marketing plan.
Whether you own the solar panels on your roof or they have been installed under a long-term lease program, there are ways to assure that the actual panels and their benefits may be transferred to a new owner. The type of solar panel financing in place, if they are not owned outright, can impact a sale. Be aware of the provisions of your original sales or rental agreement prior to listing the home. Government-backed programs, including PACE and HERO, can sometimes be transferred directly to a new homeowner, but it is wise to make no assumptions, and to explore all possibilities.
An experienced real estate agent is your best resource to navigate the sometimes confusing territory of options and terms surrounding a sale. But you might also want to confirm details of a solar panel transfer with an attorney and your local power company. The firm that installed the solar panels should also be able to give you valuable information about maintenance, upkeep and repairs. In all cases, seek a knowledgeable and up-to-date interpretation of an existing lease agreement, or the sales and service contracts, and be aware of the terms and provisions of a usage agreement with your local utility company. Knowing the details is not only for your protection, but also assures that a buyer will be satisfied with the sales contract.
It’s also important to document the “cost and comfort” benefits of residential solar panels. Much like with other energy efficient upgrades, if you can demonstrate financial advantages in addition to the “feel good” effects, a potential buyer is more likely to be impressed. If it’s pertinent, offer details about the logistics of working with a local energy provider, the durability and lifespan of the panels themselves, and the benefits to the environment. Depending on how long your solar array has been in operation, provide a comparison of before and after monthly cost figures to graphically illustrate the savings.
Even though a new owner is not likely to reap any tax advantages from existing solar panels, the financial benefits should represent a continuing savings over traditional energy costs.
You aren’t compelled to share the actual cost of solar panel installation with prospective buyers, nor must you disclose any tax rebates or local incentives you received. But it is always helpful to chart monthly billings and, if you participate in any type of energy rebates through your local electric company, it would be wise to confirm that a new homeowner would be eligible for the same savings plan.
Clean energy is a renewable resource that’s good for the environment and will repay the cost of installation in as little as about three and a half years. That may be the reason you installed solar panels in the first place. In addition, solar panels on your roof add substantial value to a home. According to figures supplied by the U.S. Green Building Council, a homeowner can expect to realize nearly $6,000 per installed kilowatt-hour in terms of a higher sales price, although actual numbers vary based on location. But the financial gain for an average home system of about 3.1 kilowatt capacity can be substantial.
Home sellers must, however, be aware of all the contingencies and know the facts concerning their personal solar panel installations. There is no substitute for advance preparation when you list your home for sale.