Asphalt shingles are so 20th century. Take a peek at roofs these days and there’s a good chance you’ll spot solar panels. By the end of 2020, roughly 2.7 million solar panel systems had been installed on American homes, and the White House believes that 7.5 million systems will be installed by 2034. Many homeowners install solar panels to lower utility bills and perhaps raise their home values. But do solar panels actually add value to houses?
Research supported by the Energy Department and Fannie Mae examined the value of homes with solar panels installed. Researchers found that solar panels owned outright increased the value of the home by roughly the same amount as the cost of the system itself. Leased solar panels, however, didn’t add value and could, in fact, create some hassles when it came time to sell.
If the solar panel equipment is owned outright, it typically doesn’t add any entanglements to the sale. But if the systems are financed or leased, it can add some complications.
For one, these systems are expensive and lenders may get cold feet if the added debt pushes the would-be purchasers above maximum mortgage thresholds. In response, many prospective buyers actually solicit lower bids to account for the monthly costs of the equipment. Complications mount if the home seller is behind on payments. A purchaser may demand that the costs to catch up payments be subtracted from the sale.
Homeowners should consider other factors as well. On one hand, panels may reduce utility bills. On the other hand, you may end up on the hook for expensive repairs later on and solar panels right now have a lifespan of just 25 years.