Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Are Solar Panels Worth In Real Estate?

I'm always trying to find some good tidbit of info to share with my blog readers. I want to thank our broker at Realty Executives Valencia for forwarding to us a couple answers from appraisers when determining value for a home with solar panels.

Cut and pasting so I make no excuses for typos, spelling, nor grammar errors:

Appraiser #1:

So the question is...can/does a Solar Panel System add real value.
As an active/licensed Appraiser I have come across many sales/refi's with solar panels. And have found its market value effect is primarily influenced by the Lender. In the case of a home with Leased/Rented panels, there is no way for an appraiser to specifically add value for this feature..like we would for a Pool or extra Bathroom, even though "permanently attached" to the structure and then considered Real Estate, not Personal Property, the unit ownership still belongs to the solar company and Could be removed, and possible resulting damage to roof. If however the Solar panels, were purchased and owned, the property could/should easily sell for more and typically the appraiser could/should appraise the property at our highest end of comparable range, really without any drama. In a perfect world, we would find another similar home (paired sale) that also sold a bit higher due to solar panels. A buyer would love this feature, and an appraiser wants to give it value, within the guidelines of the Lender making the loan. When asking this question, just imagine being in the Lenders shoes, if the borrower defaulted, and lender takes the property back, if rented, they would lose that security, but if owned outright it would stay attached add could add value to the next buyer.
Now, the next question would be...so what's a professional Solar System worth ? Good question...its really not set in stone yet. It appears every system is different and some are more like 100% effective, and some less useful. And there does Not appear to be any industry standard Rating system developed yet. There are more accepted price/value criteria for say a pool or extra bath but solar systems are newer and no accepted norm has really been established yet. I can say I did a Refi in Westridge area home in the $800's and the owner spent $60,000 on a purchased solar system and I bumped up final value by $50,000 - as it fell within my comp range on these larger homes. There is No accepted formula, derived from their cost savings. The newer appraisal format and reporting specifically asks the appraiser to comment on energy efficient items but does not have an accepted way for the appraiser to specifically add a value, I would expect this will eventually change but for now we recognize a buyer is paying more but without another paired sale comp with same feature selling higher the best we can do is appraise it at the top of the Sale comp range.

Appraiser #2:  

This question is coming more often, So my answer may start changing,
But currently, paired sales analysis is not showing any contributory value ( Yet) for solar,
 In fact, due to the contract that must be acquired in most solar home and the continuing power bill most home receive due to limited panels buyers are currently not paying more for a solar home, and may even have an adverse effect as most monthly payments are around $150- $200.
In Santa Clarita we are seeing a large influx of Solar new construction and existing dwellings so we may start to see some market driven value for solar soon.
 Hope that helps.
FYI: If you can find two homes alike in same tract, one with solar and it sold for more then that would be the contributory value for solar. But can never say for every neighborhood, that is like views and pools, different value's for different areas.

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