Solar is a relatively new phenomenon in the Phoenix real estate market and like any new change to the norm, real estate agents are ill prepared or unprepared to handle some of the challenges that solar offers. Essentially there are 6 primary issues that need to be properly addressed by the real estate agent: 1) properly pricing a solar home, 2) marketing a solar home, 3) dealing with financing a solar home, 4) handling disclosure requirements with solar, 5) handling inspection issues with solar, and 6) overseeing the transfer of a solar lease. Failure to properly advise a seller and/or buyer with any of these six issues could result in lawsuits, loss of a buyer, additional time it takes to close, and the headaches associated by their incompetence. As a solar home seller in the Phoenix area, be prepared and ready so that you can avoid any of the potential issues.
Pricing Your Solar Home
Solar electrical systems can potentially add thousands in additional value to a home. While I will not cover pricing in great details here, it is important to note that all types of solar can add value to a home, not just a system that is owned by the home owner. In some cases solar leases and prepaid solar leases have been shown to increase the value of a home in the Phoenix area. Remember that solar is not a primary search variable for the typical home buyer but do influence a buyer’s decision to purchase when compared to similar properties. Think like a buyer when pricing and remember to use accurate sales comparables that are similar in size, condition, features, and amenities. Know the market and whether prices are going up or down and stay ahead of the market curve. For more information on pricing, read my article on Pricing Your Solar Home For Sale.
Marketing Solar Homes
No where in the real estate licensing exams are there questions regarding solar and how to sell a solar powered home in the Phoenix area. Marketing is the crucial step in selling that brings potential buyers through the door of your home. Without foot traffic through the door, you are wasting your time in trying to sell the property. Your marketing should take on a three tiered approach – traditional home marketing, internet marketing, and green marketing. Traditional marketing focuses on those tried and true practices that real estate agents have employed over decades including signage, flyers, mailers, and open houses. Internet marketing provides for the 24/7 presence of your home on the internet, whether it is through a single property website, email marketing to real estate agents, or featured listing on Realtor.com for example. Green marketing allows you to maximize the benefits of solar and put it in terms that potential buyers will understand and appreciate while differentiating your house from the rest of the home for sale on the market. Green marketing can be integrated in the other types of marketing but is necessary to fully maximize the value and marketing potential that solar can provide.
Financing Solar Homes
In the Phoenix area during the first half of 2014, 3 out of 4 solar home buyers financed the purchase of their home. Depending upon the type of solar system on your home, mortgage lenders may have guidelines that could affect the buyer’s ability to buy your solar home. Be sure your real estate agent knows how conventional, FHA, and VA guidelines affect the sale of a home with solar and how to navigate around any potential hurdles that could hinder the sale of the solar home.
Solar Home Disclosures
I am surprised we have not heard more about this topic in the news but I am sure there will be a host of issues coming up in the future if real estate agents are not proactive about properly disclosing to home buyers about the type of solar system, the condition of the equipment, and the costs associated with the solar array. In current real estate documentation, there is cursory comments about disclosing any electrical systems though solar is not spelled out directly. Real estate purchase contracts do not provide for a requirement of the buyer to assume a solar lease if one currently exists on the property, even if it is already prepaid and if the real estate agents use current real estate contracts, there is no provision requiring the buyer to assume the lease. If selling your home, be sure to properly disclose your solar system, provide for disclaimers stating that past performance is not a guarantee for future solar performance, and include a contingency in the offer for the buyer to review and apply to take over the existing solar lease. Fortunately for me, I have already created documents for the purchase contract and seller property disclosure that provide additional protection for home solar home sellers.
Solar Home Inspections
Much like disclosures, I am waiting for inspection issues to begin to crop up as home buyers purchase solar homes. Besides needing to disclose the basics about your solar system, what happens if it is not operating as it was designed to do? The real estate contract provides general language covering electrical issues with the home but what about solar? What happens if the solar system stops working six months after closing. I can guarantee that you will be receiving a phone call from an attorney if the air conditioner stopped working and cost the home buyer thousands of dollars if it stopped working shortly after closing…is solar really that much different?
Solar Lease Transfer
Having worked both the buying and selling end of a solar lease transfer, most real estate agents do not provide a mechanism in the contract disclosing a solar lease, allowing for a buyer to review the lease documentation during the inspection period, and provide steps in the purchase contract for the buyer to follow in order to qualify for a solar lease. It is important that a buyer knows what he or she is getting into before closing in order to limit any last minute hangups that could hinder closing on time. Solar leases can be an important component to marketing and selling a home but it is equally important to make sure that there is a defined and spelled out process for the buyer and seller to follow when dealing with a solar lease in a purchase contract.
Overall, the key to selling a solar home in Phoenix is making sure you have a competent and qualified Realtor working for you that knows the ins and outs of solar. Fortunately the Solar Home Broker is a licensed and solar trained Realtor in the Phoenix area that can help you sell your solar home. Call the Solar Home Broker at 480-888-1234 to set up a free, no-obligation appointment to discuss selling your solar home in Phoenix.