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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Leased Solar Panels May Affect Home Sales: A real estate agent who knows how to market homes with leased solar panels can make a difference when buying or selling your next home.

Jan 31, 2015 10:35AM ● By Kathy Maguire

Installing solar panels on a home to generate electricity can cost $20,000 or more, and many homeowners have turned to leasing programs to avoid those upfront costs. In fact, 95 percent of solar panels in Arizona are leased. But most leases are for 20 years, and that may present problems for owners that want to sell their home before the lease is completed. Also, most homeowners with leased solar panels are saving only a minimal amount of money each month. Some people with a 20-year solar panel lease are only going to save $15 a month.

A buyer of a house with leased solar panels is taking on a monthly payment for the remainder of the lease, which may be a deterrent to some buyers that have to qualify through the solar panel company. There have been situations where the buyers did not qualifify for the lease, and the sellers ended up buying out the lease term in order to close escrow.

It’s also important to know that leased solar panels are treated as personal property and are given no value when the home is appraised, similar to a leased water softening system. Also, some buyers that don't understand solar leases are fearful and may steer away from homes with a leased system.

Today, it's difficult to determine whether a particular house with leased solar panels is worth less or more because there isn't a long history of sales involving such houses, but that is changing. Soon, appraisers will have more data because the number of houses with solar panels has increased tenfold in just the past seven years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and much of that growth is due to the popularity of leased panels.

For those thinking of selling a home with leased solar panels, the best choice is to hire a real estate agent that will market the home to green buyers interested not only in cost efficiency, but also in their impact on the environment.

Kathy Maguire is a residential real estate agent with DPR Realty, LLC. She is EcoBroker certified and holds the National Association of Realtor’s GREEN designation, as well as GRI and ABR designations. For more information, visit KathyMaguire.com.

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