Have you recently represented a buyer interested in a solar home? Or represented the seller of a solar home? Chances are, you had questions about the technology and how it impacted the home’s value. Here’s a resource to help you find answers.
SunShot is a government-sponsored initiative that educates real estate agents about residential solar, with the ultimate goal of making solar a cost-effective option for homeowners. Here, you’ll find information and resources on:
- solar statistics;
- explanations of common solar terms;
- a list of funding opportunities for solar investors;
- hard numbers on solar costs and savings; and
- links to other solar resources.
For real estate agents, becoming a solar expert can mean more money for you and your clients. That’s because, nationwide, homes with solar systems owned and installed sell on average for $15,000 more than similar, non-solar homes, according to SunShot. This is about the same cost as the average solar system, a strong return on investment for sellers. Another study cited by SunShot found homebuyers are willing to spend an additional $50-$74 on their monthly mortgage payment to buy a solar home.
SunShot also shows that new homes in California with solar systems tend to sell more quickly than average. For example, a high-tier, new construction community in Oakland, California with solar and other energy-efficient improvements had a 180% higher absorption rate than other nearby high-tier, new construction communities without energy-efficient improvements.
Advice for marketing solar
Get ready to sell your client’s solar home — or answer questions about a solar home your buyer client is interested in — by following these steps:
- Educate yourself.
Use a program like SunShot to educate yourself on solar. You’ll be more confident when clients ask hard questions about the system. This includes familiarizing yourself with the various solar incentives available from the government and the pros and cons of going solar. The benefits of owning versus leasing solar panels differ, and it’s important to know the details about both options.
- Find answers.
Think of questions you would have about buying a solar home, and find out the answers. For instance, a buyer will want to know how much money the solar panels will save on their monthly utility payments. Prepare for this question by asking the seller how much money they save. When you’re representing a seller, include this information in the marketing material.
Homeowners who install solar panels are likely to install other energy-efficient improvements, too. When representing a seller with a solar home, draw up a cost-comparison of monthly utility payments before and after the energy-efficient improvements were made and give this to buyer agents to share with their clients. To get this information, ask the seller what their payments were before the improvements or estimate based on other similarly sized homes in the area. Add up the savings to show homebuyers how much they will save in a typical month — this will incentivize them to pay a larger purchase price for the energy-efficient features.
- Energy mortgages
When you have a buyer interested in buying an energy-efficient home, but can’t locate one to fit their needs, let them know about energy mortgages. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) energy mortgage will help homebuyers finance energy-efficient improvements by increasing the maximum mortgage amount allowed (based on individual debt-to-income ratios (DTIs), credit and other standards). In California, the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program is another way homeowners can finance energy improvements.
Is your client on the fence about solar panels? Help them weigh the benefits and disadvantages. See the downloadable FARM letter: Solar panels: pros and cons.