Study: Buyers Consistently Willing to Pay More For Solar Homes

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

solar-pv-arrayAs if getting a great return on investment, decades of savings on energy costs, and being part of the renewable energy revolution weren’t enough to convince you to consider getting a home solar PV system, remember that going solar can also be a great way to increase your property value. And we’re not just saying that because we love solar, because a recently released study, the largest of its kind, backs that up with data.A team of scientists, led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, found that homebuyers have been consistently willing to pay a price premium for homes with “host-owned” solar PV systems installed, including both new homes and older homes.

The study, which analyzed about 22,000 home sales, just under 4,000 of which were solar homes, across 8 states between 1999 and 2013, showed an average price premium of about $4 per watt of installed solar PV, with an average price premium of about $15,000 for a solar home with a typical system (3.6kW) installed. “Previous studies on the value of home solar to home prices have been limited in size and scope,” said Ben Hoen, the lead author of the study, and Selling Into the Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes analyzed more than double the amount of home sales, as well as “captured the market during the recent housing boom, bust, and recovery.”

“As PV systems become more and more common on U.S. homes, it will be increasingly important to value them accurately, using a variety of methods. Our findings should provide greater confidence that PV adds a quantifiable premium to a wide variety of homes in California and beyond.” – appraiser and co-author Sandra Adomatis

Not only is this good news for those looking to sell their solar home, but it’s also another reason to consider investing in a home solar PV system, even if you aren’t sure that you’ll be there for the long-term. With a home solar system, you can not only get electricity cheaper than the grid, but you’ll also have the confidence in the long-term value of the initial investment, whether you stay there or sell the home.

Another good piece that may come out of this study is that with the rising number of solar homes in the US, there is also a growing need for an accurate and reliable appraisal or valuation for homes with solar PV, so the real estate industry has a standard to work from and is comparing apples to apples, so to speak. While the study does credit appraisers, agents, and others in property valuation with making strides toward accurately valuing solar PV homes, in the conclusion, the authors suggest that further analysis on any specific markets, as well as collecting and analyzing data from other states, “would be beneficial” to helping to establish accurate home price premiums.

The full study is available at Berkeley Lab, as is a quick fact sheet (PDF).

Reprinted with permission. Image: Intel Free Press

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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9 thoughts on “Study: Buyers Consistently Willing to Pay More For Solar Homes

  • A premium of $4 per watt is astonishing, as it’s higher than best prices for new installations in many places, let alone anticipated lower future prices. Buyers are prepared to pay for the green cred. In Germany you can find solar houses with above-market FITs locked in for 15 or 20 years, but very few jurisdictions in the USA have FITs at all, so that can’t be it. It’s unlikely that net metering will survive long in its pure form; a more-or-less fair VOST will end up splitting the difference between wholesale and retail prices, or adding moderate backup capacity fees.

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    • As of 3rd Qtr 2014 residential solar was running $3.81/watt.

      The first study of retail prices in CA found that buyers were paying a premium larger than the cost of installation. That may reflect a lack of current price knowledge on buyers part, or maybe they value an installed and proven system.

    • If you read the report, you’ll see there is a difference in premium depending on the age of the PV system and wether the home is new or existing. There are likely other factors that play into the premium as I would bet many appraisers ignored the PV system, or valued it incorrectly.

  • A premium of $4 per watt

  • I think it may be the same as some home buyers are willing to pay more for energy efficient homes, they are looking at the long term. 🙂

    • For example which house would you buy, one which uses $ 2000 per year or one that uses $ 500 per year for energy?

  • Yes, that’s true. But watch out with a solar lease or PPA. Not only does a solar lease or PPA not increase your home’s value, but a solar lease can actually interfere with the sales of a home.

    Don’t believe it ? Well then simply type the keywords “solar lease scaring buyers” into Google and you can read many accounts of homeowners and real estate professionals reporting difficulty when trying to sell a home with a 20 year solar lease or PPA attached to it.

    • Jim, anecdotes and opinions are not valid data. Show us an adequately designed and implemented study that proves leased solar lowers property values or makes houses harder to sell.

      I’ve had it with solar installers spamming sites with their bullshit. If you want to do more business then figure out how to cut your costs and attract more customers.

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