Does Going Solar Really Improve Your Home’s Property Value?

June 14, 2019
Does Going Solar Really Improve Your Home’s Property Value?

As a homeowner, you already know that installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on your property offers several powerful benefits, including:

  • Lower utility bills. In fact, it takes an average of 7 years for the cumulative savings from your PV panels to exceed the upfront cost of installing them – making solar an investment that quickly pays for itself.
  • Smaller carbon footprint. Not only is solar power cheaper than grid electricity, but it’s also cleaner. So you’re essentially saving money – while helping the planet.

However, there are 2 additional reasons to love solar power.

Installing solar panels can:

  • Dramatically improve the resale value of your home
  • Ensure your property spends less time on the market

Let’s explore why.

How Going Solar Improves Your Home’s Property Value

More than a decade ago, the US Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published a comprehensive report detailing the impact that solar power had on residential property values.

One of the key takeaways was that, on average, your “home value increases $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills” that your solar panels deliver.

Then in 2015, the Department of Energy and Berkeley Laboratory analyzed 22,000 home sales to determine if solar-enabled homes performed better in the real estate market.

The study concluded that homes with solar panels enjoyed an average price increase of $4/watt over homes without solar panels.

For a standard residential solar installation, this equates to a roughly $15,000 bump in price. And what’s remarkable is that these numbers held constant across economic booms, recessions and recoveries.

In a separate study, NREL found that solar properties earned about 17% more at closing. Equally important, they sold 20% faster than non-solar homes did.

In other words:

  • A property that might normally sell for $250,000 is now worth $292,000
  • A home that might take 5 weeks to sell only needs 4 weeks to close

Understanding why solar-enabled homes sell for more (and faster) is fairly simple.

  1. Future buyers know they can benefit from guaranteed savings and carbon offsets
  2. They’re willing to pay more for a home with solar already installed
  • Think of it as a higher list price home with an updated kitchen versus a lower cost home with an out of date kitchen

Now that you understand the value of having solar when selling your home, you may be wondering about leasing versus buying solar.

How Solar Leasing Affects Your Home’s Resale Value

Does Going Solar Really Improve Your Home’s Property Value?

If you own your system, the PV panels and energy generated all belong to you. When you sell your home, the panels come with it. Much like the newly renovated kitchen example, we used above. This is very desirable to a buyer as their future home will be saving them money, no strings attached.

If you lease your system, you are not the owner. The next buyer must be willing and able to take over the remaining portion of your leasing agreement. For some, this could potentially steer buyers away, and ultimately drive down the value of your home.

In general, solar leasing created headaches for those selling their homes.

But according to Berkeley Laboratory, this is no longer true.

Researchers examined hundreds of solar-enabled homes in which the installed panels were owned by third-party lessors. Berkeley Lab’s conclusion was that leased panels didn’t impact property values negatively or positively. Buyers weren’t willing to pay a premium, but they also didn’t shy away from moving forward.

Part of this change stems from the growing maturity of the solar industry:

  • Low-cost financing is more available than ever before
  • Solar leasing paperwork is far more streamlined
  • Realtors better understand the benefits of solar power

But arguably most important – homeowners across the country increasingly crave the financial and environmental savings that going solar offers. If your home delivers guaranteed utility bill and carbon footprint reductions, taking over the remaining portion of your leasing contract is a no-brainer for most homeowners. That next buyer may even add to your current system so that he or she can enjoy even larger savings down the road.

What If I Want to Keep My Solar Panels (after Moving)?

Not every homeowner is interested in fetching a higher price when they sell their properties. They prefer to transfer their solar panels so that the savings continue at their next home.

The question is – does this strategy makes sense?

Usually not. And here’s why.

If you currently lease your solar panels, the issue is moot. Most leasing contracts stipulate that the installation must stay with the original home – no matter what. And if you decide to move, you’ll need to commission a new PV system at your next home.

If you bought your original system, however, you have the option of taking your panels with you. They’re yours after all.

But here are 2 important things to keep in mind:

  • Removing and reinstalling solar panels can be expensive. And there exist a host of hidden costs that can quickly eat into your savings once you decide to move.
  • Your current PV installation is configured for your current home. Once you move, there’s no guarantee that the output or savings will be the same. In most cases, actually, the performance is demonstrably worse since the orientation, pitch, shading and installation of your next home will all be different than they are now.

Migrating your solar panels is an option. But you’re much better off selling your home as a solar-enabled property. It will fetch a higher price and spend less time on the market. You can then use that extra money to commission a new solar PV installation that is properly configured for your next home.

This approach is significantly cheaper than trying to transfer your solar panels over. It also maximizes your savings since the new PV system is properly optimized to harness the cleanest energy (at your next home).

Here are 3 additional benefits of commissioning a new PV system when you move:

  • You gain access to the latest and greatest in solar PV technology
  • Your warranty coverage starts all over again – giving you extra peace of mind for decades to come
  • Once installed, your new solar panels increase the resale value of your next home

Discover What Solar Power Can Do for Your Home

Most homeowners don’t go solar for property value increases. They’re more focused on the immediate and long-term savings that solar power provides.

However, it’s comforting to know that installing solar will either:

  • Leave your home’s property value unchanged (when leasing your panels)
  • Increase your home’s resale value substantially (when buying your panels)

Whether you’re buying a new home, selling an old one, or have no plans of ever moving in the future – going solar is a wise decision.

To learn how we can help you maximize the benefits of your clean power investment, schedule a free consultation with us today.

To compare solar financing options and see how much you can save, use our solar calculator below.

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