Do Solar Panels Help Sell a Home?

Q: We’re thinking of moving to a senior living development in a few years, so we’ll be selling our house. We’ve gotten quotes for solar and think it’s the thing to do regardless of whether we’d use it long enough to pay off the initial investment.

I thought installing solar would increase the value and attractiveness of the house. A Realtor friend says “No.” He says that people don’t want to see solar panels on the roof, regardless of the electric bill savings. He says that solar panels – even with panels on the back roof only – would reduce the number of people who’d want to look at the house.

Is he correct?

Solar Panel Roof Replacement

A: Listen to your Realtor friend. In general, we have nothing against solar panels. We like the idea of living off the grid (at least during daylight hours). And, we’d consider installing them for our own home. But there are so many issues to think through before you pull the trigger.

First, you need to think carefully about the age of your roof. From professionals we’ve talked to, you should only install solar panels on a new or newer roof. The reason for this is that once the panels are installed, you might have to remove them if you need to make a repair to the roof or replace your roof.

As we’ve written, the cost to remove and reinstall solar panels can run in the thousands of dollars. So you want to postpone taking off the solar panels for as long as possible. Given that you only plan to live in your home for a couple of years, make sure that your roof is in very good shape before you sign the contract. Otherwise, your buyer will have to pay that fee to remove and reinstall the solar panels.

Does Adding Solar Increase Property Values?

Sam had a client who bought a home with solar panels that had been installed on an old roof. The inspection showed that the roof would need replacement within the next few years. Because of the cost involved with removing and reinstalling the solar panels, the sellers would end up giving Sam’s clients a credit for more than $6,000.

You mentioned that you thought having solar panels would increase the value of your home. As we wrote recently, this might be true in places where solar is already popular. But your real estate agent friend nixed the idea. That leads us to believe you live in an area where most homes don’t have them. And, buyers aren’t willing to pay more for a home with a solar panel system already installed.

Solar Lights: Neighbor Problems

We won’t deal in this column with the financial benefits homeowners gain from paying less in utility bills and federal tax incentives. That can be true, although if you do a cost-benefit analysis, it could take years to pay off the expense of installing your solar panel system, even with the tax breaks. What if you lease the solar panel system? That would bring down your upfront cost, but would saddle your buyer with lease payments going forward.

While being off the grid will lower your energy bills, your Realtor friend has shared that many homeowners in your area think solar panels are ugly. While solar is extremely popular in some states, there are areas of the country where very few homes have them. If you’re located in that kind of neighborhood, and then install solar panels, local homebuyers may stay away.

Do Lease Obligations Follow a Home Sale?

Since you plan to move soon, we think you should avoid the time, effort and cost of installing solar panels. Instead, focus on things that will help your home sell faster and for more money: fix things that are broken, declutter, thoroughly clean your home, touch up paint, and consider doing what you can to boost your home’s street presence.

Sign up for Ilyce’s Love, Money + Real Estate Newsletter

©2024 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. C1638