Coldwell Banker Premier Realty

Solar Panels Shining Doubt into Closings but Money in your Pocket

Posted: July 28, 2015 by Jesse Olive

          Solar Power is arguably the best personal step you can take to directly help the environment while simultaneously helping your energy bill shrink by nearly 40%. The efficiency and sustainability of solar power, especially with Nevada’s 292 days of sun yearly, make this a very attractive option. Lopping your current energy bill and replacing it with a solar power bill comes from the sum of your new utility bill combined with leasing the solar panels. For those unfamiliar with the somewhat hairy combination of government incentives, warranties, and maintenance that accompany solar panel purchase and lease, here is a quick summary.

Leasing solar panels sloughs off subsidy calculations, responsibility, and upfront payment to a solar company. You decide you want to go solar, call to have them installed, and voila! You’ve gone solar. Leasing also allows you to buy the panels at a cheaper price if you should so choose to during your lease. Buying leaves you with a substantial upfront price tag to deal with, but the savings incurred leave you far better off in the long-run. A 5 kW system is $25,000, but with the $400/kW SolarGenerations rebate, the 30% federal tax credit, and $78/m cut to your current energy bill, the system will pay for itself in 9 years. This leaves you with cheap green energy with a decade long warranty yielding an 11.7% rate of return on a 5 kW system.

While it’s clear that solar power is a bright idea, the whole story doesn’t lie in environmental activism and your bank account. Should you sell or buy a house with solar panels, a sea of complications can arise, in particular with leasing the system rather than buying it. While this does not detract from savings earned and your move to sustainability, there is an array of factors to consider when dealing with solar electricity in conjunction with the real estate process.

 Considering that’s calculations show average homeowner timeframe is 13 years, solar leasing contracts often will surface as part of a real estate transaction. This translates for sellers as your prospective buyer needing to qualify to take over the solar-system lease. If the buyer barely qualified for the mortgage payment, this solar lease may be a red light financially. BOOM. Sale falls through. Should you choose to buy out the lease early to avoid having to transfer the lease, the price-tag hasn’t depreciated enough to make it easily affordable yet. It’s feasible for buyers to take over a lease, and most Nevada solar companies make the process easy. Problems arise when a buyer is on the verge of mortgage qualification, or more commonly, doesn’t want your solar panels. A niche of the market really wants solar panels, and a niche really hates the way they look. More commonly they don’t factor into the equation for a buyer, with the savings incurred if the panels were purchased representing a soft plus for your home.

However, seeing solar panels as a major deal-maker for the majority of the market simply isn’t logical. CBPR’s Sahara branch manager Greg Duffield warned sellers and their representatives to “ensure that solar panels are clearly listed as either leased or bought” in order to avoid complications if the deal moves forward. Duffield also noted that it’s imperative for the seller to clarify that the buyer still qualifies financially for the home if the solar lease is transferred. 

Solar power is a fantastic way to save money and be a personal advocate for sustainable living. Leasing solar panels however can often present complications in closing on a home and should be avoided should you see yourself moving within a shorter time-frame. Closing on a home never should rest on an energy source and its accompanying contracts, so be wary of long-term contracts interfering with your home’s re-salability.



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