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Solar Panels: A Good Choice?
Solar panels are very popular in Central Iowa, appearing on rooftops like dandelions pop up in yards, and for good reason. They will save the planet, put energy companies out of business, and increase the value of your home, and who wouldn’t want that?  
 
I will let you decide if they will in fact accomplish the first two claims, but I want to address the notion that they add value to your home. I regularly receive calls from people asking me this question so I know there must be people out there spreading this claim. My answer has always been the same; if you want to have them because you have done the math and they will save you money, or you want to be a part of saving the planet, go for it, but do NOT put them on your home because it will be worth more when you decide to sell.  
 
In last week’s newsletter, about half of the poll respondents said they would consider putting solar panels on their homes, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it to my clients. 
 
Some people listened to my advice and have refrained from participating in this movement, but others have decided to move forward and make the investment for the future, and I respect their decision. But lately, some of these people have either decided or needed to move and are finding out that when it comes to selling their home, solar panels are more of liability than an asset, causing the owners to be disappointed.  
 
One situation I see happening is that the homeowner is still leasing, or making payments on the solar panels, so there is a balance remaining to be paid.  Some of these homeowners believe that potential buyers will be willing to purchase the home and take over the payments. This is not true. The financial arrangement to pay for the solar energy system over time shows up as a lien on the property and any mortgage company being used to finance the purchase of the property will require that the lien be removed. In other words, the solar panel system will need to be completely paid off.  
 
This actually turns into two problems. First, some homeowners don’t have enough equity in their home to pay off the current mortgage as well as the solar panels and be able to purchase their next home. Second, I have been told that some of the solar panel systems have a warranty as long as the lease is in effect, but as soon as the system is paid off, the warranty is over. This means the new owners will not have a warranty on the solar panels.  
 
The last thing I will say is that rooftop solar panels do not increase the value of your home and may actually reduce the value. It has been my experience that most buyers will shy away from homes with solar panels. The reasons are many, but it is a fact. As a matter of fact, I have never had a buyer request to see homes with solar panels. Appraisers that I have discussed the subject with tell me that if they ever do add value for solar panels on an appraisal, it is because the solar panels are less than a year old.  
 
With all this being said, my answer to anyone asking me if they should put solar panels on their roof is still the same; if you have researched them and believe it is a wise decision for you, go for it, but if you are doing it to add value to your home, NO! 
 
Norwalk IA Real Estate – Jon Niemeyer, Broker/Owner/REALTOR® at EXIT Realty North Star. I list and sell real estate in Central Iowa including Norwalk, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cumming, Indianola, Carlisle, Waukee, Urbandale, Grimes, Clive, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, and Pleasant Hill in the Counties of Warren, Polk, Dallas, and Madison. Call Jon Niemeyer at 515-490-4675.  
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