FINDING THE RIGHT HOME
If you’re in the market to buy a house — let alone buying a house with existing solar panels — you likely have a list of things you want and need. A solar panel system may be one of these.
Because solar panels increase homes’ resale value, homeowners and realtors will certainly note that a house has a solar system in any listings. And they’ve become increasingly savvy at promoting homes with solar as well as the benefits of solar power.
So in terms of search (or even spotting ads), you won’t have any issues finding homes with solar installations! Just make sure you include the feature in your search query.
However, you might be thinking of questions to ask when buying a house with solar panels. Here are some areas to consider before buying a house with fully owned solar panels — or selling one, for that matter.
FINANCING A SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM OR BUYING A HOUSE WITH SOLAR PANELS
There are three main ways to finance a residential solar system: loan, lease and solar purchase power agreement (PPA). It’s wise to look into which method is most suitable for you because how you purchase your system can affect your home-selling process.
If you purchased your system outright, you can certainly factor that into its asking price. Think of this as similar to other home upgrades. If you put money into creating a deck on the back of your home, you’d of course up your selling price. The same goes for a remodeled kitchen, new roof or finished basement.
However, the amount you increase the selling price should reflect how much you save monthly on your electrical bill and how long you’ve had the system. The longer you’ve had your system, the more you’ve saved. As a result, you can list your home for a higher price.
The average homeowner saves between $10,000 and $30,000 throughout their solar system’s life span. Noting this in your listing is a great selling point.
Getting a loan to finance a solar system allows homeowners the freedom to pay for it over time while also taking advantage of tax credits. The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) and other local solar rebates and incentives further offset your total purchase cost.
However, if you’re selling your home, you’ll need to look into your loan’s fine print to discover any limitations.
For example, a home equity loan against your house means you must pay off the loan’s entire balance before you can sell the home. If you have an unsecured loan that doesn’t use your house as collateral, you still have to pay off the loan balance — but you can still sell your house while doing so.
In some cases, lenders will let you transfer your loan to the new homeowner, so long as their credit is up to par (or meets the lender’s criteria).
It’s wise to ask your lender what your available options are. It also never hurts to do your own research before signing up for any loan.
Think about your future, too. Are you a homeowner who wants to go green and take advantage of solar despite planning to sell your house in the future? What happens if you buy a house with solar panels? Or, are you past the point of “if”? What happens when you buy a house with solar panels?
Keeping your short- and long-term plans in mind allows you to pursue a loan that best suits your goals.
It’s important to note that these concerns aren’t exclusive to going solar. Any home improvement projects you make and any loans you apply for to accomplish those upgrades deal with the same questions.
So whether you’re going solar or upgrading your home in another way, you can rightfully demand a higher price for your house. That higher cost will help you eventually pay off any loan you sign up for.
If you’re selling your home and leasing your solar panels, you can certainly transfer your lease to the new homeowner.
However, your buyer must meet the credit requirements of the company you’re leasing your panels through. But this typically isn’t a cause for worry. If someone is approved to buy a home, their credit is likely in good standing.
In terms of transfer fees, the lease company may charge the current homeowner a fee before confirming the transfer. Administrative tasks and other legal work are involved, so charging a fee to handle this isn’t too surprising.
A PPA is similar to a lease in that the homeowner doesn’t own the solar panels. Although solar panels may be on your roof, you aren’t renting (leasing) them — instead, you’re buying the energy they produce.
With a PPA, a homeowner pays a solar panel manufacturer for the amount of electricity they want from the panels to power their home.
But what if you have a PPA, but you’re selling your home? SunPower allows a homeowner to transfer their PPA to the new, eligible homeowner. And the transfer is simple.
MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS AS A HOMEOWNER
Are you still undecided and asking yourself, “Should I buy a house with solar panels?” or, “What happens if I buy a house with solar panels?”.
If so, further education is your biggest resource (and defense) when buying or financing solar panels as a homeowner. Explore your budget to determine whether purchasing outright or financing through a loan, lease or PPA is most suitable for you.