What to consider if you’re buying a home with solar panels

By Melisa Camp, LEED AP-Homes, Realtor®, GREEN @ HomeSmart Elite Group

Falling prices and advancements of home solar power are leading many Valley residents to add them to their homes. And while prices for solar systems have fallen dramatically over the last decade, residential systems can still be costly, which is why some owners turn to leasing their systems.

In fact, here in the Valley almost 100 percent of Solar City residential customers are leasing their panels.

With utility rebates gone for good, it makes sense that leasing would be an attractive option for those with less cash flow. But what happens when an individual decides to buy a home with leased panels?

While they may seem like a good idea, Valley realtors have their concerns. Here are some of the things both realtors and buyers should to consider:

Assuming a lease
Buyers have difficulty assuming the lease.
In many cases the buyer needs to have better credit to assume the lease than to obtain the loan to purchase the home. It’s not uncommon for realtors to lose the interest of potential buyers because of this issue.

Evaluating the worth
Very few realtors and appraisers really know how to evaluate solar panels
and the companies. At the same time, solar companies can give unrealistic evaluations, giving sellers unreasonable expectations.

Following the rules
Liens are not always recorded and if they are, they could have rules of their own.

Agents can be surprised to learn information about solar liens. Understanding this ahead of time is important as disclosure is not always clear and it could be costly.

Do the research
Whether you are considering buying or selling a home with a solar panel, doing research is crucial.
Arizona Regional MLS is instrumental in providing updated searchable fields, such as lease vs. own, as well as number of kilowatt hours, for realtors to use when searching for homes for clients. Doing so will help you know what you are getting into before even starting.

Despite many concerns, clean energy is a trend that has a wide range of benefits and that we don’t expect to end anytime soon. Economic, environmental, or personal—everyone’s goals are different. So, whether you choose to buy a home with leased panels or not, experts’ caution you shouldn’t go forward without asking questions and doing the research with the guidance of your realtor.

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