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Solar Panel Pros and Cons When Selling

March 28th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Hope Ranch Real Estate, Mark Lomas and Kirsten Wolfe, Montecito Real Estate, Montecito Realtors, Santa Barbara Real Estate


Can going green by leasing solar panels for your roof  save you or cost you money when you go to sell your home? Possibly both. Recently Kenneth Harney reported in the LA Times that as great an idea solar panels may be, that when you go to sell your home they could be a problem.  Some solar panel companies offer their panels at no upfront cost so you can save on electricity bills. Sounds good right? Not so fast. Say in a few years you decide to sell your home, and you think having solar panels might be a marketing plus. Maybe not.

Many prospective buyers balk after they learn they’ll need to qualify on credit to take over your lease solar payments for the next how many years? Others won’t sign a payment unless you pay off the lease.  And, there are no guarantees this equipment might be obsolete in the near future, or save as much on electricity as promised.  Adopting someone’s solar lease may not be such a great idea. Not all solar lease agreements are the same. The buyout sometimes can be astronomical. A realtor in Vacaville, California had her sale fall apart when it turned out the buy out on the lease was $30,000.

Residential solar installations are booming – up by 50% per year since 2012.  The takeaway here is be aware of the potential complexities that occur when you lease, rather than buy (recommended), solar panels. Understand your long term obligations, and talk to your current utility company about the savings claimed. If you are thinking of selling contact the leasing system well in advance to learn about the lease transfer and buyout options so you’ll be prepared if a prospective buyer has problems with your panels.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • tg

    How does leased equipment affect the terms of a a reverse mortgage?

    • Mark Lomas

      It would depend on what the appraiser picks up. One appraiser might see it as a plus, while another might question the age of the system, and if it’s a lease. Depending on what it might cost to buy the system, if leased, might adjust the valuation.

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