Solar panels are one of those home commitments that can really benefit a homeowner and the environment but require some serious long-term planning.
For one thing, the return on investment period for solar panels in many parts of the country is somewhere around 8 years, which may be longer than many families plan to stay in a given home.
When you commit to buying or leasing solar panels, recognize that you’ll be creating an obligation that will pass to your buyers. In certain markets, you may find that having those solar panels actually boosts your home’s value, making your own investment even better, but you have to find the specific buyers who see them as a boon and not a burden.
Here’s what to consider, whether you’re shopping for panels now or trying to sell your home with the current panels on it.
Buying Versus Leasing Panels
When you purchase solar panels outright, you may experience the sticker shock that comes with a $20,000 (on average) upgrade to your home.
That being said, you’ve likely charted a path through those first 8 years, since after the payback period of electricity generation, most solar panels last much longer and give you free electricity. Panels range in lifespan from 25-30 years in many cases!
Of course, if you sell before 8 years, your goal may be to price the home to recoup any remaining investment. Your real estate agent can give you advice about whether to price slightly higher because of a relatively new solar panel array. If the trend locally is that buyers won’t pay more for them, you may need to reconsider that option.
With leased panels, a popular option in the past 10 years that has been in decline in the most recent couple of years, you would have to “buy out” your lease in order to own the solar panels outright or pay to have them removed professionally, depending on the options your lease company offers.
There are also ways to transfer your lease contract to a buyer, but it can be tricky and many buyers balk at having to immediately set up a new expense, paying monthly installments on the lease.
In both cases, however, a little buyer education can at least show buyers that solar panels are a benefit, even if they aren’t willing to pay top dollar for them. Solar panels have very simple and easy maintenance, so they aren’t tacking on a bunch of new bills like a swimming pool or hours of work like a hot tub.
They gather electricity during all sunny times and in many states, you can ‘sell back’ electricity you don’t use to the electric company so that your panels actually pay for themselves faster.
Lastly, the lowered utility bills often make up for any costs the lease brings – encourage buyers who haven’t considered solar panels before by showing them key numbers and metrics for why taking on a leased or purchased solar panel array isn’t a bad deal for them.
The Luxury Upgrade Challenge
While the modern interest in solar panels has grown to where most buyers know about them, your biggest challenge with selling a home with solar panels is the issue of any luxury upgrade. There is absolutely a buyer out there somewhere who would love to have a particular luxurious backyard pool or gorgeous, top-dollar kitchen, but the chance that they are currently shopping in your market is pretty low.
So your challenge to overcome is that you want a great price for your home so that you can purchase your next home, but at the same time, you need to find a wide net of buyers so that the people who end up placing offers aren’t just accepting the solar panels, but instead are thrilled about them.
Options for Selling a House With Solar Panels
One option is to find a real estate agent who has sold homes with solar panels before. Often, agents bring a wealth of insights to their work, and because they are incentivized to get you a great price, they have a reason to really do their homework in this arena.
One of the reasons that a real estate agent is worthwhile for some sellers or buyers is that they can vastly increase your home’s market exposure, and as we mentioned, your challenge is getting your home in front of the buyer who desperately wants solar panels anyway.
When you partner with a great real estate agent, they’ll list your home on a wide variety of listing sites and they’ll have good publicity in place to quickly showcase the value of the solar panels and other features of the home. Instead of just marketing the solar panels well, they’ll notice ways that they can bring great buyers to the table and help you see the returns you want.
Another option is to consider a cash buyer like HomeGo. If you are having trouble selling your house through the traditional methods, companies like HomeGo will buy your house as-is for a fair price. If you’re ready to get a cash offer on your home, contact us today!