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solar can add value to your home

WILL SOLAR HELP OR HURT HOME VALUE?

Having solar helps homeowners save money on their electric bills, but will solar help or hurt home value? That’s the topic of today’s article.

Drive around neighborhoods in the Triangle today and you’ll almost certainly see at least a few homes with solar panels on their roofs. North Carolina is third in the nation in adopting this energy alternative, with no slowdown in sight.

There’s no question that having solar will save homeowners some money on their electric bills. But we still get questions about whether those solar panels will help or hurt a home’s resale value. And there are even some HOAs that have put hefty restrictions on where they can be placed.

For home buyers—who are ultimately the ones to decide whether solar will be worth it for them when evaluating a specific home—here are some of the important details to dig into:

SOLAR TYPICALLY HELPS HOME VALUE

Studies have shown that solar does increase the value of a home—one nationwide study from a few years ago found it boosts the value by an average of about $15,000 vs. comparable homes without solar.

So yes, people like the idea of saving on their electricity year after year. Just how enthusiastic they are depends on a few factors, including how much electricity—and savings—are being generated, and who owns the equipment.

HOW MUCH WILL SOLAR HELP YOUR ELECTRIC BILL?

The amount can vary year-to-year based on the weather, but in general solar works well in North Carolina.

  • If you’re buying a home that already has solar, ask the homeowner about their typical electric payments—they may be willing to show you the stats through usage reports and electric bills—so you can get a better idea of what you’d save. If possible, ask to see the interconnection agreement with the power company too. You’ll want to know what happens to excess power your system generates.
  • If you’re planning to add solar to a home you’re thinking of buying, and wonder how effective it would be, you can get a ballpark of what to expect by entering the address in this site from National Renewable Energy Labs.

WHO OWNS THE SOLAR PANELS? 

Homeowner-owned is the best scenario for new buyers, because there are no payments to take over (other than any maintenance).

If the owners have leased the system, you’d have to look closely at the contract terms. Most companies are willing to transfer the contract to a new buyer, but it’s definitely something to factor in to buyers’ monthly budgeting! (See below for questions to ask about a leased system.)

If the owner purchased the system with some types of solar loans, the payments may be associated with the owner, not the property—in which case you’ll likely find the home priced a little higher to help them offset the remaining cost.

QUESTIONS BUYERS SHOULD ASK, REGARDLESS OF OWNERSHIP

  • How old is the home’s system?
  • What type of system is it? What sort of maintenance and lifespan is anticipated?
  • Who installed it, and what are the warranty terms (some are as much as 25 years, but some system types are much less).
  • Are the companies used still operating?
  • What are the warranty terms for the system?
  • If installation was handled by a third party, what are those warranty terms?

It’s also important to look at the age of the roof, since the panels will need to be removed when a new roof is installed, and that will add cost to the roof work—just another maintenance detail to factor into your longer-term budget.

QUESTIONS TO ASK IF THE SOLAR SYSTEM IS LEASED

If you’re taking over an existing contract, it’s important to get full details about the terms before you move forward. While sellers have an upper hand in today’s market, taking on another long-term commitment isn’t something to jump into lightly. Find out:

  • monthly payments and fees,
  • length of time remaining on the loan,
  • whether the payments will escalate over time,
  • if the contract is transferrable should you decide to sell,
  • who’s responsible for repairs.

The biggest benefit of having solar panels installed on your roof is the money you will save on your electric bill: you will almost certainly pay less than what you would without it.

For homebuyers who are concerned about supporting renewable energy, the question of whether solar will help or hurt home value may be less important than their sense of helping the planet. Whichever your preferred electric choice, we’re here to help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle—just give us a call!

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