Solar Installation Boosts Home Resale Prices in California

In the midst of the catastrophic housing market collapse comes a bright spot for residential solar installers. A new study found that home solar systems boosted the resale prices of homes in California and other markets around the country.

A study at the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that homes with solar systems installed sell for a premium compared to homes without solar. The study is one of the first comprehensive looks at the impact of solar systems on home sale prices in the country.

Sales premiums ranged from $3.90 to $6.40 per watt with most near $5.50 per watt. The study interprets this dollar-per-watt additional price to an average home sales price of $17,000 for a relatively new 3,100 watt home solar system.

The California solar home study looked at 72,000 homes throughout California from 2000 through mid-2009. Of those homes nearly 2,000 had solar systems. To create a level playing field between homes researchers used a variety of models and tests to control for variables such as square footage, lot size, neighborhood affects and the homes age. The solar study analysis also adjusted for inflation and market fluctuations.

The finding show that existing homes retrofitted with solar commanded larger sale premiums than new homes with similarly sized solar systems. The average premium for new homes ranged between $3.30 and $2.60 per watt, while the average premium for existing homes was more than $6 per watt.

One possibility for the gap in solar prices is that many new custom home builders are offering solar systems as standard sales option at lower premium to help close sales. Builders are struggling with sales and adding solar panels as a standard offering has helped close the deal.

If the solar home study were extrapolated nationally, the findings might suggest that all homes with solar installed would command some level of premium at resale. The head of the National Association of Realtors cautions residential homeowners from making any generalizations about what’s going on nationwide with home solar based on the study.

Home buying behavior is different across the country. California has a population that understands and appreciates the benefits of solar. Comprehensive statistics on residential solar and home sales have been hard to come by. This new solar home installation study will go along way to help homeowners with one more reason to go solar.

Story Source: Home Power Magazine.