Written Robin LeBaron

Robin is Pearl’s Co-founder, President and COO. Robin directly oversees the Contractor Network at Pearl and has over 20 years of experience helping contractors and homeowners capture the value of high-performing home investments.

Two identical homes stand next to each other on a subdivision in Everyville, USA. They’re alike in almost every respect, except that one has solar panels covering the south-facing side of the roof. What do you think: is the one with PV going to sell for more? After all, the solar panels on the roof are generating energy, reducing monthly energy bills, and providing power when a storm or a blackout knocks out the grid.

But you might be surprised. Many times, the owner of the home with solar panels won’t get a better price. In some cases, solar panels decrease a home’s value. One contractor in the Pearl Network routinely removes solar panels from homes before they are put on the market because the homeowners believe that they will reduce the home’s appeal.

Last month I presented on this problem at the American Solar Energy Society Conference with two experts in the field. Janelle McGill, an outstanding Realtor from Fort Collins, CO, did a great job of laying out the problems.

A scarcity of trained appraisers who know how to value solar, buyers who fear the unknown, and a lack of data for the appraisal, all prevent residential solar from being properly valued. Leases often create additional headaches because they can’t be transferred as personal property. And there are practical problems, like interconnection issues when the new owner takes possession.

Pamela Brookstein from Chicago-based Elevate Energy provided part of the solution. Elevate trains real estate agents on how to sell homes with solar and high-performing homes. An online class created by Elevate is also offered through the National Association of Realtor’s Center for Realtor Development.

Pearl also provides a key part of the solution by providing the documentation that the appraiser needs to generate the net present value of the solar system. And we engage agents and appraisers and help them understand how to make selling high-performing homes a key part of their business process.

But the problem is big, and a lot more work needs to be done to ensure that solar is always properly valued at time of sale. Pearl will be doing more work on this issue over the next twelve months. We’ll be looking for partners to raise awareness on this issue – so if you’re interested, please reach out to me!