Buying or Selling a House with Solar Panels

The popularity of solar energy has grown tremendously in the last 10 to 20 years. More and more homeowners are installing solar panels on their homes to offset rising energy costs. If you're looking to buy or sell a home with an existing solar panel array - it's important to understand how the system works.

What Are Solar Panels?

A solar panel is typically made of semiconductor material, such as silicon, that generates an electric current when it's exposed to the sun's energy, or light.

Your electric bill will rise anywhere from 2-3% every year. This rise can be 100% offset by installing solar panels on your home. A roof-mounted solar array is the most common type installed but we do have several customers that prefer a ground-mounted solar array for ease of maintenance and access.

Buying a House with Solar Panels

If you're looking to purchase a home with solar panels you will want to know if the current homeowner owns the panels outright or if they are still making payments on the panels. If the panels are not paid off then it will be a little bit trickier to transfer ownership over to you - the current homeowner will likely have to pay off the solar panels before they can sell the home. Transfer of ownership may be a lengthier process if the homeowner does not own the panels outright.

You will also want to make sure your home inspector thoroughly reviews the roof for any damage. If they were installed by a professional solar installation company then it's likely there was no damage but it's better to be safe than sorry.

You will want to understand the system’s historical output in comparison to the home’s average usage in order to gauge any excess production or need to purchase electricity from the utility company.

The age of the systems as well as component warranties is important to know before buying a home with an existing solar system.

All of these factors are equally important and it is in your best interest to hire an experienced agent to help analyze the different factors.

Selling a House with Solar Panels

If you have solar panels on your home, and they are paid off, then you're in luck! Based on data gathered by Rocket Homes, homes that have solar panels were 24.7% more likely to receive an offer over their asking price.

Your home will likely sell faster as buyers in today's market desire a more sustainable lifestyle. Your solar panels can also increase the value of your home by up to 5%.

Advertising your home as operating with clean energy and lowered utility bills can be a selling point for buyers. However, it is important to understand that in order to fully benefit from selling a home with solar panels, you must outright own the system. 

Assessing the Solar Panel System

Before buying or selling a home with existing solar panels, it is important to conduct a thorough assessment of the system. Hiring an experienced solar energy system inspector or appraiser is a good tactic for ensuring that the system is adequately assessed. Assessments should evaluate the system capacity, age, efficiency and any maintenance history on the system.

Financial Considerations and Incentives

When buying or selling a home with existing solar panels, both financial implications and benefits may occur. When selling a home, implications may arise if you do not outright own the solar energy system. In this case, you may need to pay the rest of the lease or transfer the lease to the new homeowner which is a separate process. Purchasing a home with solar panels reaps the benefits of lowered utility bills as well as sourcing your home’s energy needs from a sustainable source. Federal tax credits and other grants are available for installing solar panels which you can benefit from during the building process as well as with an increased home value if you choose to sell the home. 

Legal and Administrative Procedures

When buying or selling a home with solar panels, it is essential that you understand the legal and administrative procedures. It is advised that you collect all relevant permits, contracts, warranties and maintenance records. Local regulations as well as homeowner associations can generate challenges, but knowing these ahead of time can make for a smoother process. Seeking out professionals for help with administrative procedures and paperwork necessary for transferring panel ownership is recommended.

Bottom Line

For homes with existing solar panels, both the buyer and seller have an opportunity to benefit. It is important to conduct an assessment of the system through education and professional help. With the positive environmental impacts along with financial benefits, solar remains a viable sustainable energy option when looking to purchase or sell a home.