Coastside: Solar Panels and Home Sales

A Green HomeWhat better way to celebrate Earth Day 2014 than to talk a little bit about solar power on the Coastside, residential solar energy specifically.  More and more homeowners are asking about the benefits of photovoltaic panels, including Coastside homeowners.  I’m seeing more panels on roof tops, but the number of sales with these energy saving systems are still few and far between, making value using comparable homes still challenging.

The roof top panel system, called a photovoltaic (PV) system will either be owned or leased by the homeowner.  The value will vary depending on age and type of system.  There is now a PV tool in place for an appraiser to determine added value.  If it is owned, the property owner’s major financial investment is made up front.  If it is leased, there will be a monthly fee for the lease, and a note on the public record (in CA, not sure of other states), yet some lenders may consider the system personal property.  The appraisal calculations will be different for a leased system, and the value will depend on several factors including the age of the system, the utility savings, and the lease contract terms.

I applaud the good news on the appraisal front related to PV systems valuation.  As I mentioned, there is now a PV calculator for appraisers who need to determine the value of the solar energy system on a property they are appraising.  In January 2014, Sandia National Laboratories published a report on how PV system ownership can impact market value of residential homes.

There have been a total of eight (8) homes on the Coastside that have sold homes with photovoltaic (PV) panels, six (6) have been in the last year alone, per MLS records.  Prior to 2013, only 2 sold homes had solar panels.  Currently there are two Coastside sellers with solar panels, and one more coming on the market this week, that I know of at this point.  If the seller can show before and after utility bills along with the associated documents, this disclosure for the buyer will go a long way to bringing together economics and logistics about solar panels when it comes time to sell your energy saving home.  Buyers will get excited about solar at the property if they are shown the value and understand it.  Agents can now search for homes with energy efficient features on the Multiple Listing Service, such as on-grid and off-grid solar, and much more.  This is a great step in the right direction of tailoring specific search criteria to our clients’ needs.

The primary company providing local solar energy services is SolarCity.  This company and Google jointly announced in 2011 the creation of a new $280 million fund to finance residential solar projects.  SolarCity also recently announced the results of its first national poll of U.S. homeowners regarding clean-energy products and services. The poll found that a majority of homeowners, 69 percent, want more choices when it comes to their energy and electricity supply.  This new report, “U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy: A National Survey,” is available for download at and

Another pro-active collaboration between local non-profit, Sonrisas Community Dental and SolarCity is going on right now!  This relationship benefits both the coastal community, a local non-profit, and environment.  Contact Tom Cottrell from SolarCity at 650-288-5958.

I found some interesting articles, below, to give you more solar news to brighten your Earth Day.

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