Can going green by leasing solar panels for your roof cost you money — or headaches — when you go to sell the house?
Possibly both. Say you get pitched by one of the growing number of companies offering solar panels — at no upfront cost — that they claim will save you lots of money on electricity bills. Sounds like a slam-dunk. So you sign on. Then a few years later you decide to sell the house. You assume that the presence of solar panels can only be a marketing plus, maybe even get you a higher price. Everybody goes for green, right?
But that’s when it gets weird. Some would-be buyers balk when they learn that they’ll need to qualify on credit to take over your solar lease payments for the next 15 to 17 years. Others say they like the house but won’t sign a contract unless you buy out the remaining lease payment stream — $15,000 or $20,000 or more — because they’re worried that the solar equipment will become obsolete or won’t save as much on electricity bills as advertised.
Issues such as these are popping up increasingly in California and other states and are interfering with sales and closings, according to real estate industry experts.
Be aware of the potential complexities that can occur when you lease, rather than buy, solar panels. If you opt for a lease, understand your long-term obligations, and talk to your current utility company about the savings claimed. Most important: If you’ve got a leased system and plan to sell, contact the leasing company well in advance to learn about lease transfer and buyout options. That way, you’ll be ready if prospective buyers have problems with your panels.
Disclaimer: for information and entertainment purposes only