Category Archives: Green housing

Solar panels: Yes or no?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably looked into installing solar panels on your roof once or twice before. There’s a 30% Federal Tax Credit on the table to incentivize us to seriously consider solar and I’m here to say that I’m intrigued!


By How Much Does Solar Increase Your Property’s Value?

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory offers a useful guide when determining how much your property’s value will go up. According to its research, each additional $1 in energy bill savings (from your solar installation) adds $20 to your home’s total value.

It’s important to note that these statistics only apply to today’s housing prices and utility rates. As electricity prices go up (as they most certainly will), the advantages of solar energy rise proportionally as well.  In fact, an article on states SDG&E rates have increased 500% over the pas 15 years!

In addition, installing solar panels not only helps you fetch a higher asking price, but it can also help your home sell 20% faster vs properties without solar installations. For homeowners who want to reduce exposure, paperwork, and wait times, this can be a huge advantage – especially in today’s sluggish housing market.

To substantiate the claim that solar panels improve property values, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory produced an interesting report that provides hard numbers from calculations that were made after examining real estate transactions across the country in eight states from 2002–2013.

On the other hand, can we count on realtors to educate prospective buyers on why paying a premium for a solar-powered house is justified?  I suppose that remains to be seen.  Truth be told, there are very few home improvements that will affect a homeowner’s bottom line like having it equipped with solar power. I haven’t seen a dramatic improvement in cost for these systems, nor have I seen any significant improvements in the technology of late, but I expect (and hope) solar to stay around for the long haul, which to me makes it one home improvement you may want to consider.

Going solar

My wife and I are all about living green(er). We got a Chevy Volt this past summer and absolutely love it. It will save us thousands of dollars in gas every year (and the carpool lane sticker comes in very handy in Orange County freeway traffic). The only negative with the Volt is the cost of electricity to charge it. Our electricity bill has increased about $100/month. Of course, we save way more in gas than that, so it’s not a big deal for us, but we still wondered how we could reduce the cost and live even greener. That goes us talking about solar panels.

If you walk around the neighborhoods in Dana Point and Capistrano Beach, you’ll see that solar panels are no longer limited to just a few ahead-of-their-time (or “kooky,” as my grandma would say) home owners. They’re becoming more and more mainstream. Installing solar panels isn’t cheap though so, as a realtor, the big question for me is this: Will you get your money back on solar panels when you sell your home? 

Well, according to a new report funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, you just might. According to that report, homebuyers have consistently been willing to pay more for a property with owned solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Read the full report here.

Read the full report here.

Check out the fact sheet here.

Check out the fact sheet here.

The study analyzed data across 8 states, including California. The conclusion? Both new and existing home markets seem to value the addition of a PV system, with premiums averaging $3.58/watt for new homes and $4.51/watt for existing homes. California premiums, however, average $1.10/watt more than other states.

Interestingly, the study also found evidence of a “green cachet,” or situation in which buyers may be willing to pay a certain amount for having any size PV system.

So, from my perspective, solar is making more and more sense (and cents). Aside from renewable energy benefits, those who own their home’s PV system will receive about $1.26/watt in tax credits. And, when you sell your house, this report suggests you can up your price.

What’s the future look like? The Department of Energy estimates a total of 108 gigawatts of residential rooftop solar paneling by 2050, with 30 million homes nationwide. As of last year, more than half a million homes in the U.S. are outfitted with PV systems.  That means lots of growth in the next several years–and lots of opportunity.