Moving with Solar: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Solar is becoming more prevalent all over the country. It’s not uncommon to be in the position of selling or buying a home with an existing solar array.

You might be reluctant to part with your investment. Hopefully those panels served you well. What should you do with them if you’re moving?

Selling

Consider this: Your home comes with no power bill. Or at least a reduced one compared to your neighbors. If the installer did a good job, the solar array shouldn’t detract from the look of the home. Environmental impact from homeownership is largely negated. Those are all great selling points.

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So, given two homes of relatively equal value, a fully-warrantied power-bill-reducer should be an obvious bonus, right? Absolutely, in some parts of the country.

If market conditions are right, and your realtor has the proper information, it’s possible to get the majority of your investment back in the sale. Several Auric customers have sold their solar-equipped homes, recaptured their costs, and then installed new solar on their new home once they moved in!

Sadly, this dream scenario doesn’t always manifest. Or maybe you really like those panels - they’re part of your family legacy now, after all! If you’re considering taking the system with you, here are some things to consider:

  • Because the project has to go through permitting, design, and labor all over again, there are unavoidable fixed costs that add up.

  • Your new home will have different energy needs and sunlight potential. You might not need all the panels, or you might need even more.

  • Even though you own the parts, it won’t qualify for tax incentives the second time around. It could end up costing almost as much as a new system after incentives.

  • A roofer will likely need to come patch up the shingles where mounting penetrations were made, unless the buyer doesn’t mind leaving hardware sealed into the roof (feet & flashing).

The previous owners of this home took the solar with them, but chose not to redo the roof.

The previous owners of this home took the solar with them, but chose not to redo the roof.

In short, it’s vastly more cost-effective to keep the solar where it is. Relocating a solar array should be a last-resort option. If it does come to that, our Field Service team is more than willing to help.

Keep in mind that some manufacturers require a one-time transfer-of-ownership fee to carry the warranties and solar monitoring tools over to the new homeowner. It’s a nice idea to get these rolled in up front, or at least have the paperwork handy, so there are no surprises for your buyer.

Buying

Obviously there are a number of factors in choosing a home. You want what’s right for your family. And unless you had solar on the home you’re moving out of, you might not know much about it.

Will unfamiliar appliances installed by the prior homeowner stand the test of time? It’s hard not to wonder.

Good news: you can easily verify if a solar installer has a good track record through websites like www.SolarReviews.com and the Better Business Bureau. Ask your realtor to get in touch with the original solar company. If it was Auric, we have a full in-house customer service team, and you’ll find us happy to answer any questions about warranties and system specs. We’ll take care of you like you were our customer from the start.

Buyers beware! Homes  without  solar have “invisible” ongoing costs of ownership: never-ending power bills.

Buyers beware! Homes without solar have “invisible” ongoing costs of ownership: never-ending power bills.

Here’s some realistic pros to consider:

  • Most solar arrays will last decades without a second thought paid to them.

  • Your family will start saving money and offsetting your carbon footprint immediately. Save the planet from the comfort of your couch.

  • Panels add life expectancy to the shingles they cover, meaning you shouldn’t need to worry about the roof for a long time.

  • In the event that you want to upgrade, it’s usually possible to add panels or other energy-efficiency products as you increase electric needs.

Generally, homes with solar are a safe investment. Even if they cost a little more than a similar home without solar, you’ll save big-time in the long run.

If you’re not sure, ask your realtor to line up a diagnostic with us. Our Field Service team can do an inspection as part of your due diligence period.

As mentioned above, ask about the transfer-of-ownership process. Auric doesn’t charge any fee, but some manufacturers do. Without system monitoring, we can’t uphold our workmanship warranty and take care of the existing array for you.

Advice for Realtors

We would love to help you (and our mutual customers) get a sale, or get into a good solar-powered home. So how do you quantify the value of the solar? It’s definitely a number larger than zero. But you shouldn’t have to guess.

Give us a call, and we can help identify the important factors on a case-by-case basis. Some websites like Zillow also have good general tools to identify solar potential. We can also refer green-certified appraisers to help out.

We’re currently building a continuing education course for real estate industry professionals, including realtors, appraisers, and insurance claim adjusters. Sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media for up-to-date announcements and future events. And thanks for reading!