Buying & Selling Solar Homes

What are the benefits of a solar home?

 Increased home value and appeal

Applying a specific dollar amount to the resale value of solar is tricky, but generally homes with solar have shown to have increased value and attract more potential buyers than homes without solar.

 Money savings on utility bills

With a solar PV system, the buyer can reduce or nearly eliminate their utility bill.

 Reduced carbon emissions

Producing solar energy is completely renewable and unlike coal, oil or natural gas, doesn’t release greenhouse gas emissions.

 A hedge against utility rate hikes

Although it is difficult to predict future electricity rates, most analysts expect them to continue to rise due to various market developments.


How solar financing affects real estate transactions

Homeowners have two basic options to finance a solar PV system. They can purchase it outright with cash or through loans, which makes them the system owner. Or, they can obtain a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) with ownership held by a third-party investor.

If a homeowner owns their system, a buyer will purchase it in the transaction. Typically, any solar PV loans will be paid off by the home seller, except property assessed clean energy (PACE) loans that are tied to the property and paid as part of the property tax bill. For more information, visit CSE’s PACE website.

If the PV system is third-party owned (TPO), the lease or PPA can be transferred to the buyer, or the buyer can purchase the system outright from the third party. To transfer the lease or PPA, the buyer must apply and be approved by the system owner. If they are not approved, they may be required to purchase the PV system prior to the sale or arrange to have it removed.

Solar home transaction

After a home sale is final, the net energy metering account is transferred to the new homeowner. This is a simple process of notifying the utility of the new owner and verifying the service address. The utility will already have a record of the solar system installed.

California Residents: For San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, if the PV system was interconnected to the grid under the net energy metering 1.0 policy, it will stay with the original rules until the 20-year agreement period is complete.

Tips for listing agents

  • Become a Green Certified Real Estate Agent

National Association of REALTORS® offers green designation training and resources for agents looking to become experts on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Get a specially trained appraiser

  • Gather all PV system information

Note the items listed below and any other relevant information. You can post this info near the electric panel and include a photo in the MLS listing.

  • Kilowatt (DC) solar system size
  • Manufacturer, model number, quantity and warranty of inverter(s)
  • Manufacturer, model number, quantity and warranty of panels
  • Labor warranty
  • Year of installation/utility interconnection
  • Ownership of system (homeowner or third-party owner, e.g., lease or PPA)
  • If third-party owner: remaining financial obligations, transfer and lien subordination process
  • Type of financing used for system and if any loans remain unpaid (e.g., PACE)
  • Annual kilowatt-hour (kWh) production of solar system (an indicator of potential savings for the buyer depending on their energy consumption)



Tips for buyer agents

  • Determine the ownership of solar system (homeowner or third-party owned)

If the system is owned by the homeowner, the only loan type that will require further action is PACE. If the system is third-party owned, the buyer will need to be approved by the TPO company.

  • Verify the system kilowatt-hour production and past utility bills

A home’s electricity consumption results from factors such as the number of people in the home, their habits and the overall energy efficiency of the home. When looking at past utility bills, keep in mind these factors will change with new owners and affect their total energy use.