Looking for effective ways to reduce cost of living is not a new concept; whether cutting out a trip to the coffee shop or buying in bulk. Today, there are even more options available when it comes to cutting costs–especially when it comes to your home–and there have been vast improvements in solar power.
Prices of solar have dripped almost 60% over the last decade according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Estimations are that by 2040, solar power will be less expensive than natural gas and coal across metropolitan regions in the United States, but some good news? It’s not necessary to wait until 2040 to reap rewards of a solar ready home. Ditching the electric company is possible at this very moment, and a lot of people already have.
The United States has some of the richest solar resources in the world. The sun is a free source of light and heat, which can be converted into a clean energy resource for the home. The sun’s energy can also be converted into clean energy without the production of greenhouse gases. In fact, solar power is now the fastest growing new electricity source in the country as reported by Power Engineering, as well as being the least expensive electricity source on the planet.
Solar power is not only inexpensive, but it is also highly reliable. There’s more solar power to be utilized than you probably imagine. According to the Department of Energy, the worlds surface receives enough solar power in one minute “to meet world energy demands for an entire year” Solar is clearly a solid investment. Homeowners who make the initial investment to go solar are rewarded with a system that will produce energy throughout their lifetime with little to no maintenance.
When it comes time to sell, the use of solar can ultimately increase the value of your home. According to studies by The Colorado Energy Office and The National Bureau of Economic Research. In fact, the use of a photvaltaic (or PV) system can add 3.6% to the sales price of a home or roughly an added $22,554 with solar panels installed. Researchers found that for every $1 decrease in the home’s annual energy costs, the market value of a home will increase by $20. This means that if your energy costs go down by $1,000 a year, the value of your home should increase by $20,000. These are just estimates as no two solar systems are the same. It is important that an appraiser values each system independently.
If you’re considering buying solar ready home, check what’s available in Clarksville, TN, here. converting to a solar ready home or thinking about selling a solar equipped home there are some important factors to consider. One often overlooked fact when buying or selling a home with a solar system is “Who truly owns the system”? System ownership is determined by how the solar panels were purchased. Just because there is a solar system on the roof it does not mean that this belongs to the homeowner. There are four basic ways to purchase solar panels for your home, the first being a cash purchase, a loan, a lease, or through what is called a ‘Power Purchase’.
When a homeowner purchases a solar system outright then they own the system. At this point the solar system is considered “real property” or a fixture of the home. This would be the most desirable scenario in a real estate transaction. The rooftop solar system would be appraised as part of overall home value.
When a solar system is purchased with a loan and is paid in full, the system belongs to the homeowner. When a homeowner is still making payments on the loan, ownership will be dependent upon the terms of the loan contract. Many lenders will allow the homeowner to claim ownership of the solar panels even while they are making payments. In this situation the solar system can be appraised as part of the overall home value
Some lenders, however may place a lien or a UCC-1 Filing on the system. This means that the creditor is securing assets as collateral in case the owner defaults on the loan by claiming third party ownership. While UCC-1 filings are not technically liens, they are often treated as liens by title companies. The lender may decide to claim ownership of the system which in turn can have direct impact on the appraised value of the property. It is important to work with both your lender and title company to make sure you understand specific guidelines in your area.
At the end of the day, sellers are ultimately responsible for any loans tied to the property in question. This is no different with solar. If a loan is not paid off and a potential buyer is not willing to take over the loan, the buyer may want to adjust their price accordingly.
If you are a buyer and you are open to taking over the loan on a solar power system, keep in mind that you will need to qualify for both the mortgage and the solar system loan. This may affect your debt to income ratio.
Under this type of agreement, the homeowner essentially pays for the right to use the solar system for a specific period of time. They do not actually own the system. The solar provider retains ownership and usually places a UCC- Filing against the system. In this situation the system is owned by a third party and cannot be appraised as part of the overall property valuation.
When a seller has a solar system that was acquired through a lease or a Power Purchase Agreement, they either need to transfer the system to their new residence or buy out their contract. Contracts vary by solar providers so be sure to familiarize yourself with the specifics of your agreement.
As a potential buyer of a property with a lease or Power Purchase Agreement, it is important to obtain a copy of the contract and determine if you are willing to take over that contract. This can become a lengthy process, but it will be worth the effort in the long run. The added complexity should not become a deterrent. Leases and Power Purchase Agreements are great ways to take advantage of green energy.
More than a million homeowners across the U.S. have added solar to their homes. This is a great time to be part of this shift toward renewable, clean energy.