A question posed to me recently was whether or not houses with solar panels sell faster and for more money. We would tend to think so, because solar panels make paying for electricity considerably less expensive, especially here in sunny Silicon Valley. Conversations with buyers reveal that solar is highly valued. Placing a dollar amount to that value isn’t so easy right now, however.
The difficulty is in the lack of data. Recently, in my Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhood, we’ve seen a lot of houses getting fitted with solar just in the last year. I believe that 3-4 years from now, we’ll have a larger pool of closed sales in which solar was part of the equation, but at the moment, only a tiny fraction of closed escrows were houses with these energy efficient features.
Here’s what I’m seeing as I pull the numbers from our MLS:
All of Santa Clara County, all houses which have closed escrow in the last 30 days: 916
All of SCC, all houses with solar panels on the grid which have closed escrow in the last 30 days: 13
This is a mere 1.4% of the sold properties in the last month. Because the county is so large, and the price ranges and school districts vary considerably, this isn’t a large enough pool for getting a great sense of what solar panels may do in a predictable way in terms of verifiable market value improvement.
Additionally, we would want to refine the criteria to consider the impact of owning the panels versus having a rental contract for 20 years on them.
Should you add solar panels to improve the sales price of your home? I don’t think so at this point, especially if you are planning to put your property on the market soon. However, if you are planning to live in your house for many years, you may find that the recapture on your investment is well worth the cost – and when it comes time to sell, we may see that it’s a considerable boost to your sales price. If you do it, do it for yourself, not for resale value.