leased solar panelsInstalling solar panels on a house to generate electricity often costs $20,000 or more, and many homeowners have turned to leasing programs to avoid those upfront costs. In fact, 95% of solar panels in Arizona are leased. But most leases are for 20 years, and that can present problems for owners who want to sell their house before the lease is completed. Also, most homeowners with leased solar panels are saving only a minimal amount of money each month. I checked out leasing solar panels for my own home with a 20-year lease and was only going to save $15 a month.

A buyer of a house with leased solar panels is taking on a monthly payment for the remainder of the solar panel lease. This can be a deterrent to buyers because not all buyers are willing to take on such a lease, and if they are, they have to qualify for the lease through the solar panel company. There have been situations where the buyers have not qualified for the lease, and the sellers end up buying out the lease term in order to close escrow.

It’s also important to know that leased solar panels are treated as personal property and are given no value when the home is appraised. The situation is similar to a leased water softening system. Still, if you’re representing a seller of a home with leased solar panels, try to make the best of it by marketing the solar panels to potential green buyers who are interested not only in cost efficiency but also in their impact on the environment.

Following close of escrow on a home that has leased solar panels, it is extremely important to ensure that the buyer’s agent follow through with having the buyer sign the necessary documents transferring the lease from the seller to the buyer, as this can only be done after close of escrow.

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