Buying vs. Leasing Solar Panels

Real Estate Broker/Owner CalBRE# 01433049

Buying vs. Leasing Solar PanelsI received a broker-to-broker e-mail blast the other day from an agent who will be selling a home soon that is encumbered with a solar lease. "I took a listing in Windsor that has a 20 year leased Vivint solar system on the roof that needs to convey to the new buyers. Anybody have experience in how this is done?".

Unfortunately, yes. I've written posts before about the consequenses of leasing solar systems. Sure, it seems like a good deal at first, because it costs the homeowner NOTHING. Unfortunately, as the same old story goes, you get what you pay for.

Read more about this on my blog post Solar: A tale of buying vs. leasing.

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Cynthia Larsen (707-332-2560) is an independent real estate referral broker in Sonoma County, California as well as a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist.

CA Broker License #01433049


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Janice Zaltman
United Realty Group - Boca Raton, FL
South Florida Residential Real Estate

Hi Cynthia: Have not run into that here in Florida. If there was a solar lease, it would have to be paid off at closing and I don't think the buyer would want to have that as an additional expense.  The costs have come down greatly and now there are other programs available that are better. Still want to acknowledge all the pioneers who got solar even when it was not financially feasible as the payoff is quite long. Sonoma beautiful!!!!!

Jun 02, 2016 10:41 AM #1
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Hi Cynthia- unless an owner has no other choice, buying rather than leasing is always preferable in my mind. I suspect the ramifications of solar leases is not clearly understood by many.

Jun 02, 2016 12:54 PM #2
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Hi Janice, a lease pay-off is super expensive. Neither seller nor buyer would want to take that on. The buyer would just cancel the purchase contract and move on as they already have a down payment and closing costs to consider. Thanks for stopping by!


Lottie - solar leases are popular here (many good solar sales people out there) and we are going to be seeing more and more sales pop up where we will need to deal with the situation. They are already in our CAR contract for a good reason. Wish us both luck with those endeavors!

Jun 03, 2016 01:53 AM #3
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

This is definitely not an issue we are familiar with yet in Northern Virginia.  

Jun 03, 2016 03:57 AM #4
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Cynthia, I have complained about Leasing for years, we have our neighborhood website and if people ask I disclose that I am a Realtor and they should buy it outright vs. leasing it... and the irony is now our California Association of Realtor's Purchase Agreement has a  Disclosure about it...Endre

Jun 07, 2016 04:31 PM #5
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

I've heard enough tales of woe form leased solar panels, that I highly recommend not leasing to those who approach the subject with me.

Jul 19, 2016 11:45 AM #6
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


I hope you are being impacted by the fires but if you are, hope you and your family and home are safe. cheers cvc

Oct 16, 2017 09:47 AM #7
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Curtis Van Carter we are fine, but indirectly affected by friends who have lost their homes and the loss of so much that can't be replaced. #sonomastrong

Oct 16, 2017 09:54 AM #8
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Cynthia Larsen

Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA
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