You've found the perfect house It is the right size, the right location, and the right price. So why don't you write an offer on it? The home has solar panels on the roof and you aren't sure if you want them! How Solar Panels Impact Your Home Purchase?
You have never owned a home with solar panels and aren't quite sure how they work. Does someone maintain them? Are they a fire hazard? Do they work when it rains? How do they affect the roof warranty? How do they affect my electric bills? How do I know they work?
You have more questions than answers, but one thing is for certain, there is a monthly payment for leased solar panels that haven't been "pre-paid." Is there also a monthly utility company cost for having solar panels?
Lots of questions and you aren't sure you're getting all of the information you need to make an intelligent decision.
How Solar Panels Impact your Home Purchase involves many questions and answers, so let's decipher the information.
First, know that buying a home with leased solar panels will not increase the value of the home. Per Fannie Mae, leased solar panels don't have value in an appraisal. Owned solar panels have value but depend on an educated appraiser trained to value them in an appraisal.
The solar lease will transfer to the next buyer, but the buyer must qualify to assume the lease payment for the remainder of the lease. The lease payment is added to the buyer's debt to income ratio, which will lower the payment you qualify to borrow to purchase the home.
The solar panels will have a warranty included; however, the inverter that converts the dc electricity to ac power so it can be used in your home does not last as long as the 20 - 25 year warranty for the solar panels. Inverters last about 10 years, although I've seen them need to be replaced sooner, and must be replaced in order for the array to operate. Check out this article on How Inverters Work. The cost of the new inverter sits squarely on the homeowner. It's been shown that inverters don't last as long in extreme heat.
Solar panels may be a fire hazard if the fire department can't disconnect them from the house in the event of a fire. The electricity must be disconnected from the solar array in order to fight a fire.
It's a good to examine the age of the roof where solar panels are located. If the roof is asphalt, then know that there will be a fee to remove and reinstall the solar panels when a new roof is installed. Asphalt roofs last about 8 years in Arizona, while concrete tile roofs last 25 years, depending on the felt underlayment.
Inspecting solar panels is not part of the America Society of Home Inspector guidelines. You'll need to contact a 3rd party to inspect the panels to verify connections and other important information relevant to due diligence during the inspection period.
Check with your homeowners insurance company as to how solar panels affect insuring the home you want to purchase.
Most solar installers will warranty the roof after they install the solar array. Ask the current owner for any information on that subject.
Unless there is a battery back up, solar panels do not produce the same level of electricty when the skies are cloudy. In Arizona, when temperatures rise in hot summer months, the production of power decreases even though it's a full sun type of day. Solar panels work best under cooler temperatures so as not to produce surges of electricity and lower power output.
Some systems come with computer software that will show how much power you are producing. Ask if software is available for the system.
Check with the current homeowner to learn if there are monthly utility charges for solar customers. Currently in Arizona SRP charges $50 per month for solar customers while APS has added $5 to everyone's monthly bill.
Solar panels will reduce an electric bill, but be aware that you may not experience the same energy savings as the current owner. How you operate the home, the number of occupants, and your daytime usage may vary.
If you like the home, but still aren't sure about the solar panels, ask the listing agent if they can be removed. Some companies will remove them for a fee and the sellers next home may qualify for their re-installation.
And if you're looking to buy or sell a home in Arizona and want an agent experienced with solar panels, please contact me!