Sell Your Home With Solar: Easy as 1-2-3

As a homeseller, the key things to keep in mind about solar are:

The panels go on the roof; they produce electricity and whatever electricity is produced, the homeowner does not need to purchase from the utility.

While this might sound like an oversimplification, this is only to remind you that solar should be seen as a feature of the home, just like any other.  Your passion for highlighting the features and qualities that you love about your home, are just as relevant when dealing with solar on your home.  Once you understand the basics about solar, it will help you describe the nuances of a solar house, and help you convey to your potential buyers how solar was among the many features that added to turning your house into a home.

1) Keep it Simple!


We’ve already established that solar, and its production of electricity can be a benefit for a new homeowner.  Explaining how exactly the solar production works and why it may benefit the homebuyer, may be a potential pitfall for homesellers, as both questions can have multiple answers.

Keep It Simple! Remember, many potential buyers are buying the house that comes with solar panels and not the panels that come with a house. According to a study done by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 43% of agents found that the presence of solar neither dramatically increased nor decreased a homes’ time on the market 1.  As a result, it is possible that the homebuyer’s questions about solar (if any) are geared towards finding out: what is the solar system (and what it is comprised of), how does it work, and why it is a benefit?

2) The What, Why, and How

The “What”


(LG 350w Module, SolarEdge HD Wave Inverter, Sunwise Meter Socket)

Most solar systems are built in similar fashion: solar panels (or solar modules), which are used to collect the sunlight for energy conversion; an inverter, to convert that energy into electricity, and a meter which tracks how much electricity is generated.   As solar is becoming more prevalent, potential homebuyers may be familiar with these devices but may simply have questions/concerns about the aesthetics of the equipment. 80% of real estate agents found that solar was present in their markets and also a point of interest to potential buyers, according to the NAR 1,


(Large rectangle, Pizza box, Shoebox)

Aesthetically, most solar components have a standard shape and size: 3’x5’ rectangles for the solar modules themselves, a large pizza box-sized rectangle for the inverter, and a shoe box-sized rectangle for the meter socket (which includes the meter itself).  Having this general knowledge may help you easily dispel any simple concerns your homebuyer may have.

With regard to the modules themselves, homebuyers who have particular questions about the make and model of the solar module, may likely already have knowledge and preferences about solar.  In such cases, the process may not be any different from working with a homebuyer with other buying preferences.

As technology increases, there may be homes that do not have an external meter, or they may have modules with built-in inverters. Although these homes are not the majority, it is good to let the homebuyer know that not all solar homes are built alike.  Understanding how solar works will help you drive home the message about solar, while keeping the focus on the home.

The “How”

As we discussed, solar panels generate electricity that is used to reduce a homeowner’s utility costs.  How exactly does that work and how does the homeowner “save money”?

Think of a bank. When you open a bank account, the bank allows you to deposit money into your account with the promise that you can withdraw from it at a later time.  In the meantime, the bank also “uses” the money that you deposited (to loan to other customers) and compensates you accordingly. Solar electricity and the electric grid work in a similar way.  

Electricity produced by a solar system, flows to the grid so that it can be used by any home with grid access.  In return for “depositing” this electricity, the utility company issues the homeowner a “bill credit” which the homeowner can use at a later time when they need to purchase electricity from the grid.

To put it simply, if for example, your system produces 30 kWh on a particular day, and on that same day you only use 10 kWh, on your electric bill, the utility will issue you a credit for the 20 kWh that you produced but did not use.  Based on your current electricity rates, the utility will credit you the dollar value of the 20 kWh on your next electric bill. This “net meter credit 2” rolls over day-to-day, year-to-year.

With this process, homeowners can offset on average 50% to 70% of their electric utility needs. As technology improves, it is becoming more and more common to see homeowners who are offsetting 100% of their electric utility usage using solar!
Now while this may seem like a benefit, (or a “no brainer as is often referred to in the solar industry), it entices us to overlook one glaringly obvious – but crucial fact: electric usage is dependent on the homeowner. This simply means, no matter how seemingly beneficial solar may have been for your home from a financial standpoint, it has to connect with why the home is important for the new homebuyer.  

The “Why

Of the three topics in this section, the “why” can be the trickiest of them all, as each homebuyer will have their own personal reason for buying a home, and why they will even consider a home that has solar.  While there is no silver bullet that will satisfy the why of every homebuyer, there are a few tips that may help you navigate this process.

Ask the homebuyer directly – Some homebuyers may not have any preferences towards solar at all.  According to a 2018 NAR Study, 39% of real estate professions found that solar increased the perceived value of a home 1, while 32% said solar had no effect on the perceived value 1 at all.   According to the same study,  29% of real estate professionals had issues speaking about how solar impacts a home for sale 1. This should give you confidence that the homebuyer will see YOU as the expert! Unless a homebuyer has a particular preference with regards to solar, compared to other agents or sellers who are not speaking about solar at all, the little that you do know and feel confident speaking about, may be all that your potential buyer s looking for. Besides, no one will be able to speak about the benefits of solar for their home better than you.
It should be the homebuyer’s why, not yours – In some solar-ready neighborhoods, where there are many comparable homes, solar might seem like the obvious edge for selling a home. As we cautioned above, just make sure that those benefits tie into why the home is important for the potential homebuyer.  Many solar benefits come with their trade-offs, but – for the right reasons – those trade-offs might be worth it.

3) Partner With a Local Solar Consultant

The old adage says, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  Consider the suggestion that “it takes a neighborhood to sell a home.”   In the northeast, statistics show that the features of a neighborhood (schools, shopping, outdoor recreation) are the largest among other factors in home purchases (NAR 2018 Sustainability Report 1). It can be inferred that the homebuyers are either familiar with the neighborhood, or have become familiar with its features and qualities.  In a similar fashion, when dealing with solar, outside of becoming a solar expert yourself, it may be beneficial to partner with a company or an individual who has an existing wealth of knowledge about solar.  

It is highly likely that the solar consultant who sold you the solar for your home, also has other clients with solar homes in that neighborhood. Meaning, they may have also assisted another agent or seller in selling a solar home in your neighborhood!  At best, they can be a resource for you to validate your newfound solar expertise.

Your Solar Home

Now that you have a better understanding on how solar can impact your home and its presence on the real-estate market, it is our hope that you feel empowered to see your solar home in a new light (pun intended)!  Solar is just one of the many wonderful features about your house. It is now up to you, with your new found information, to help your buyers understand how solar helped turn your house – and hopefully, their future house – into a home.

Sources:

  1. National Association of Realtors. (April, 24th 2018). REALTORS® and Sustainability 2018 Report.  Retrieved from https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2018-sustainability-report-04-24-2018.pdf
  2. Solar Energy Industries Association. Net Metering. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.seia.org/initiatives/net-metering


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