When interviewing a real estate agent to market and sell your home, or to assist you in the home-buying process, ask about their experience selling properties with solar installed, and whether they have taken a course on how to list and sell homes with solar. A real estate agent who is knowledgeable about solar electric systems will be well equipped to assist you through the home sale transaction process.
You should also ask your real estate agent to request a qualified appraiser who has completed a training course on how to appraise homes with solar. The article Appraised Value and Energy Efficiency: Getting it Right, created by the Appraisal Institute and other partners, includes more guidance on how to request a qualified appraiser for homes with energy efficiency and clean energy features.
If you are selling a home with solar
You should save any documents provided by your solar installer, and be prepared to provide them for the future buyer. These solar electric system documents will include the contract, technical documents like the system design and electrical diagram, and information about equipment, warranties, and when the system was installed. If available, information about the amount of electricity the system has produced over time can be useful in the process of marketing the solar electric system. Some of the solar electric system information may already be available in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), or in the MassCEC Production Tracking System (PTS) database of solar electric systems. If unavailable through other means, basic solar electric system information for a specific address may be available by contacting MassCEC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are selling a home with a solar electric system that you own
- In addition to maintaining system documents, if you are receiving ongoing state production-based incentives such as SMART payments, you should clarify to the real estate agent the remaining duration that the incentive payments are available, and how electricity production has been reported to receive those incentives. Ongoing production-based incentive payments can be included as part of the negotiation and sales transaction process.
- As noted previously, a solar electric system may add value to your property. Discuss with your real estate agent how to best include the solar electric system in the sales process. Knowledgeable real estate agents and appraisers often use a tool to add contributory value to the comparative market analysis, found at www.pvvalue.com.
- Let your real estate agent know if the solar electric system was financed with a loan that is still in place at the time of sale. If the loan uses the solar electric system as collateral, there may be a UCC-1 filing on the property.
Although not recommended, you may elect to move the solar electric system to your new property when you move out. Note that having the system removed and re-installed may void equipment warranties.
If you are selling a home with a solar electric system that is on a lease or Power Purchase Agreement
- With your real estate agent, carefully read the part of your contract that outlines what options are available if you sell your home. Options may include the ability to transfer the agreement to the buyer, buy out the remainder of the lease, or pay a termination fee to have the system removed. It is important that everyone on your sales team understands the options available prior to marketing the home.
- If there is a UCC-1 filing on the property, you and your real estate agent will need to work together with the third-party owner to have it removed during the sales process, to ensure a smooth closing.
- Fannie Mae guidance clarifies that a third-party owned system cannot be part of the appraised value of the home. However, you can work with your realtor to develop talking points to show the solar electric system as an asset that can support the sale of the home.
If you are purchasing a home with solar
Request information about the solar electric system and review available system documents with your real estate agent. Ask if a record of electricity production is available, how the system is monitored, and whether there have been any maintenance issues with the system. Clarify the age of the system inverter(s) to determine the remaining warranty, and when replacement may be needed. Note that some of the solar electric system information may also be listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), or in the MassCEC Production Tracking System (PTS). Take into consideration whether trees or other structures are shading the solar electric system, which can impact system electricity generation.
If you are purchasing a home in which the solar electric system is owned by the seller
Request from the seller and review with your real estate agent any ongoing state production-based incentives, the remaining duration of the incentive, and how system production is reported. Ask for a history of past production-based incentive payments, if available. If you wish to receive any remaining incentives, clarify with the seller the process of transferring ownership of the incentives to you.
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