Selling up and moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exciting adventure but the journey is filled with documents, legal procedure, banks, and finding the right buyer.
When you have solar panels on your home, it can add another unwanted complication to proceedings.
Many people wonder if it is harder to sell a house with solar panels…
Well, it’s not always harder. In fact, it can actually significantly raise the value of your property.
But it is still another thing to bear in mind when talking to agents and buyers.
Generally, the only thing that makes a sale more difficult is when your solar panels are leased rather than owned.
Keep reading and we’ll go through all the ins and outs, including problems you might face and tips on how to sell your house with solar panels.
Do Solar Panels Affect House Prices?
Yes, homes with solar panels fetch a premium essentially if you own the solar panels outright.
Even if you have leased solar panels it is unlikely to negatively affect the resale value of your home.
In fact, on average houses with solar panels sell at a 4.1% increase in the US. Plus this figure rises substantially to over 5% areas like New York.
Why do homes with solar panels sell for more? Well, it is clear that they are viewed as valuable assets by buyers. It signals the clear benefits of solar power is installed.
Financially, it dramatically reduces energy bills which increases the asset value of a building. Adding to this, they are relatively low maintenance and last for decades which makes it an even more attractive prospect.
Not only will this push up the value but it is also known to be a leading factor in selling faster.
6 Problems to Selling a House With Solar Panels
Despite the amazing benefits of solar power, there are still issues and obstacles to agreeing a deal with your prospective buyer. This can be for a number of reasons from misunderstandings to transferring a lease.
1. Leasing Complications
If you’ve leased your solar panels rather than buying them outright, this will add extra legwork in completing a deal.
Generally, the new buyer will be required to take over the lease which you have with the original installer.
This requires a credit check, liability, and paperwork to be transferred into the buyer’s name. In the majority, this is not an issue as a buyer will generally be in a strong enough financial position to take the lease.
That being said, there are still cases where it knocks their debt ratio outline and causes a deal to fall through. Adding to this, the extra paperwork can take time to complete which further lengthens the time frame for completion.
In other situations, the buyer does not want the responsibility of the lease which they are liable for each month. In this case, you might consider buying yourself out of the contract before selling.
2. Nervous Buyer
Now, you already know the amazing benefits to solar power, but this might not always be so clear to potential buyers. They may have very little experience with solar panels so it can appear as a burden rather than a bonus.
You know the huge savings you make on your energy bills and the comfort of being able to generate your own electricity during an outage. But the mind of a hesitant buyer might be filled with questions.
For example, if you’ve never had solar panels you’ll have no idea about the maintenance, cleaning, or repairs. For some, solar panels feel like another thing to keep clean! What about the effects on the roof or the cost of fixing damage?
These are completely understandable concerns, so you’ll need to put a buyer’s mind at ease. Discuss and educate them on how easy living with solar systems makes your life.
3. Uneducated Agent
It is scary to think, but some real estate agents are not very experienced in selling homes with solar panels. While an agent should remain honest and impartial this is not always the case. In fact, their own personal opinions or experiences can creep into the narrative.
Bad previous experiences in completing deals with solar panels can lead to agents down talking solar panels or painting out uncommon problems. Frankly, this shouldn’t happen but it does!
Don’t be afraid to discuss the benefits with the selling agents. You could even give them information such as reduction on energy bills and cleaning services to pass on to the buyer.
4. Lost Information and Documentation
Make sure not to lose the documentation that went along with the purchase and installation. This is important for the future owner so they know the specifications of the system and who installed it. Missing this information has been known to obstruct house sales.
It can be a real headache when it comes to making repairs or alterations to the system if you don’t have this information.
The new owner might want to add more power to the system in the future. In this case, they will need to contact the original installer to get the job done. Many installers refuse to work on anything but their own systems! Plus interconnection applications need to be updated when alterations are made so it is critical to have all the relevant documents in order.
If you have a PV system in your home you must ensure it is properly valued to include in the sale price.
You don’t want to miss out on serious extra cash due to an undervalued home. Likewise, overvaluations might scare off potential buyers before they even view the property.
Ensure your Residential Green Energy Addendum is completed to help realtors and appraisers get an accurate valuation. There is a whole page on solar panels in this paperwork which explains specifications like power, age, and efficiency!
This information should also be echoed on the Green Energy sections of listing databases such as Multiple Listing Services that agents use to market properties.
And finally, if you are struggling to get a valuation you can visit PVValue.com.
6. Faulty Equipment
Don’t be surprised if the new owner wants to have the system inspected before signing on the dotted line. As you know, the equipment and installation are not cheap and they will be paying a premium to purchase the property.
If you’re shelling out an extra 4% because a home has solar power, you’ll want to make sure it’s in good working order. Of course, the performance of a system will slowly degrade over time so things like age and working conditions may be inspected.
Being careful to provide accurate information about the status of the panels will help this to go smoothly. As long as everything is as you claim, there should be no issues. It is when you start to bend the truth or hide issues that deals start to fall through.
Simply put, faulty equipment will lower the price or even reduce your chance of a sale.
Selling a House with Owned Solar Panels
Owning the solar panels on your home makes the sale very easy. There is no extra paperwork or legal hoops to jump through.
This is the scenario that gives a property the largest increase in value as the energy production directly offsets power bills. The solar panels are just included in the rest of the sale price.
It will make a property very attractive to buyers as there’s almost no drawbacks to owning solar panels. In fact, you can expect a quicker sale too as these properties become increasingly sought after.
In fact, you might even consider buying yourself out of a lease contract in order to proceed with a smooth sale.
Mortgage lenders will be more comfortable in dealing with purchases with owned rather than leased solar panels. It reduces risk, increases an owner’s ability to repay, and avoids taking on extra financing solar financing debt.
Can You Sell a House with Leased Solar Panels
Yes, it is very common to sell a house with leased solar panels.
You should be aware that it does throw extra complications into the mix. Here is what you should keep in mind during a home sale with a leased solar system:
Transferring the Lease – Usually, the new owner will simply take over the current lease agreement you have in place. In practice, this means contacting the installer and changing the name and liability for the contract. It requires cooperation from all parties to complete smoothly.
Buyer Credit Checks – Your buyer will need to undergo credit checks before taking over the lease. The solar company will want to make sure they are able to pay. This is rarely a big issue as home buyers are usually in a strong financial position. And you must remember, even with a lease solar panels are still cost effective when offset against bills.
Buying Out the Contract – If a buyer is unwilling to take on your current lease then the only option may be to buy yourself out of the contract before selling the house. This essentially means buying the equipment so they become owned solar panels. You can incur significant expense for doing this so consider factoring this into the house valuation… especially if you are still in the early days of a 25 year lease.
Mortgages and Banks – Lenders are less willing to deal with purchases involving financed solar panels. That’s not to say they won’t but it can raise unwanted obstacles in the affordability of a mortgage. This is because it will increase the buyer’s debt to income ratio and reduce the size of loan they are offered. This is more of a problem when taking over a loan used to buy solar panels rather than a lease.
How do I transfer my solar panels to a new owner?
To transfer the solar panel lease to a new person you will need to contact the installer or lender with which you have a contract. As they technically own the equipment and you just rent it from them they will need to make the alterations. You should make them aware of the sale as soon as possible to ensure credit checks and processing is does not hold up the completion of sale.
Can I Take My Solar Panels When I Move?
Yes, if you own your solar panels you can take them with you when you move. This is rarely done as it is a complex costly procedure that is not recommended. It is best practice to recoup the cost of the equipment in the valuation of the property.
Trying to remove and transport heavy solar panels can be tough as you risk damage and installers often won’t take the job. Adding to this, the system may not be suitable for your new property as the mounting system, space, and power requirements will likely be different.
Do Solar Panels Hurt the Resale Value of Your Home?
No, quite the opposite. Solar panels will improve the resale value of your home. You can expect buyers to pay more especially if the solar panels are bought, paid, and owned without the need for a lease or financing. Even if you have leased solar panels it shouldn’t negatively affect the resale value of a property. Generally, people find that there is little difference in the price of homes with leased solar panels compared to those without any at all.
Final Thoughts on Selling a House with Solar Panels
On the whole, it is not much harder to sell a house with solar panels.
In reality, homes with owned solar panels are easier to sell and will attract a higher valuation. Plus these types of properties actually sell much quicker.
Contrastingly, leased solar panels can cause headaches if the buyer is not in a position to take over the contract. In most cases, it simply requires extra paperwork rather than major problems.
Hi, I’m Michael, the editor here at Watt A Lot.
After years of experience with off-grid power like solar panels, inverters, and batteries I decided I should share my hands-on knowledge with you. In my professional and personal life, I’ve needed to find electrical solutions for remote situations from owning a food truck, to running events at the top of mountains, to my converted campervan. So whether you’re looking for the best products or fixing an electrical problem, you can rest assured my advice comes from real hands-on experience.