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Selling a challenge for some solar panel homes


NEW YORK – June 25, 2014 – Leases have made solar panels more affordable for homeowners, but because a leased system is considered personal property rather than part of the house, they're a liability in the eyes of some potential buyers who must assume the contracts as part of the purchase.

The problem is relatively new. Solar panel financing began to take off only a couple of years ago, so most customers who signed a lease still live in the same home. Solar analyst Nick Culver and others say some buyers won't be willing to assume a solar lease.

"Even if you save money every month," Culver notes, "you limit yourself to a certain subset of buyers."

Some sellers with leased solar panels say they had to lower their asking price, provide detailed documentation on the monthly energy savings, and even persuade the solar company to approve a new leaseholder that has a slightly lower credit score than the company's usual standards.

However, SolarCity Inc. spokesman Jonathan Bass – whose company has transferred ownership of about 1,500 contracts – says it should not be more difficult to sell homes with solar leases, as the lower energy and ownership costs they offer benefit buyers.

"It becomes a selling point instead of a misunderstanding," he insists.

Source: Bloomberg (06/23/14) Wade, Will

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Related Topics: Seller services