Profile picture for rek.jr

Grid tied solar electric has no value?

Why is there no option at Zillow other than adding a descriptor for solar electric or, for that matter, solar HW systems. I recently installed a grid tied 6.0 kW electric system at my home, initial cost before credits $48,000. There seems no way to show this as an amenity and benefit nor does there seem to be a course to get this addition reflected in the homes value.
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July 25 2011 - Sherwood
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Answers (9)

1) The reason it is not included is Zillow only provides a "starting point" using only 9 county records variables, and often the KW capacity or BTU capacity of a solar or other "renewable energy" source is not listed in the county records, and there are so few sales having those, that the "modeling" approach used is not appropriate for it.

2) You can easily determine "value" by taking the monthly savings on the electric bill based on present KWHr charges, and the present 30yr fixed interest rate, and calculating the "present value" as if you had to make those payments as a loan for 30 years.

3) You can put a comment on the Zestimate regarding this "additional" value.  You can also put it in the home description.

4) The "my estimate" feature should be back on line soon, and they may have revised it sufficiently to "help" with determining the potential "value" of these "extras".
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February 28 2012
As Zillow continues to make improvements, it would be nice to see more options.  Another idea would be to have your agent login to their Zillow profile and edit your listing to include this special information in the listing data.  There's also an option to load more photos - this gives me the idea to bullet point some features that warrant highlighting on a slide and then load it into the photo gallery for buyer prospects to see here on Zillow.

Best of luck.
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February 27 2012
Profile picture for rek.jr
Like I said, my initial question was why are these systems not listed along with central vacuum systems, attics, wine cellars, air conditioning  etc on the Zillow site?

 Following your line of thought, I think that water frontage, waterfront ownership and rights vary drastically from state to state. In Oregon most frontage is public, at least from the high water mark on navigable water ways but still has added value in assessing property values.  The law is quite different than California or Ohio yet waterfront is a check off point on Zillow that is not regional.

Even if you do not own a system (or water frontage) outright, as you mention,  it has intrinsic value as most leased PV Electrical systems go with the property and the value in terms of reduced electrical costs are past on to a new owner. My thought is if the system is if paying fifty cents on the dollar spent on electricity the system ought to be worth, for example, at least 25 cents (or some other value) on the dollar. There should be an appraised value, perhaps varying,  whether or not he system is owned or under a long term lease.
In my case the system was installed under a feed- in-tariff  program similar to those in Europe where the the utility purchases unused power at a rate substantially higher (approximately .48 per kW) than the residential rate (approximately .08 per kW) paid by consumers.
I should have a better understanding of this very soon as I am going to have the home commercially appraised within the next month.
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February 27 2012
After all, using my analogy, unlike a swimming pool, the system requires virtually not maintenance and actually pays the owner back in electrical kWs and money through unused Kws sold back to the utility

... assuming you OWN it outright. But many systems, at least in my area, are now LEASED back to the company or the company actually owns it, which can make sense for financing reasons. Comparing to a pool, the pool company would not own your pool, you would. And financial incentives may only kick in after 5 years for some systems, others right away. And states differ regarding Kw buybacks. Ive heard in CA some grids can not handle more Kw from private sources.

Solar is great, but again to expect Zillow to quantify a value is just asking too much. There is enough complaining about sales WITHOUT solar. In sunny So Cal I rarely appraise homes with solar, but at least the number has been increasing lately. . .
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February 26 2012
Profile picture for rek.jr
Thanks everyone for the replies.
I still find it interesting there is no place between attic and waterfront to add these features. Like Pamela says, maybe they will add them in 10 or 20 years!

Maybe there may not be enough comparable features on other homes but I am sure there is a general equation that can be worked out in regards to value; similar to generalizations for efficiency based on the homes latitude and location. For example, if the system has 25 years of expected life andis expected to reduce the annual electricity costs of the home by 50% then there should be value added for at least a portion of these savings. This speaks nothing about carbon footprints and other tangible benefits.
I understand that, like a swimming pool, some people may not care to have a PV electric system but there ought to be a general rule of thumb as to whether there is added value to the home. After all, using my analogy, unlike a swimming pool, the system requires virtually not maintenance and actually pays the owner back in electrical kWs and money through unused Kws sold back to the utility. If the ascetics are
handled and the system is not considered "unsightly" there should be added value.
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February 26 2012
Profile picture for Pamela_281
Zillow knows that the solar system has value.  They base the value of your home on others in the area. Until more people start puting solar on their homes, Zillow doesn't have anything to compare with so they assign a zero dollar value to your solar system. Lazy approach, but that's the way Zillow works. They had my home showing as a 3 bedroom home for over a year, it's a 3300 Sq Ft, 4 bedroom, brick home. I'm getting ready to put a solar system on my home. I don't care what Zillow says because my home is not and will not be for sell for another 10 or 20 years! Maybe by then Zillow would have caught up with what's truly going on in America!
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February 26 2012
Profile picture for Resistoon
I agree that Zillow should allow for Solar Electric to be reflected in their home values.  It makes no sense that there isn't a solar option to check.
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August 04 2011
I would have to agree that worth is relative to the area. One thing that you would want your realtor to point out when selling your home is the savings/commodotization of the system.      Start saving statements from the power company if haven't already and demonstrate the value. Also if you have commodotized the panels through selling the power directly to a 3rd party energy sales company this will demonstrate a capitalization of your home; meaning not only is it a living space, but a means of income.

Also, unless you are selling your home now; why do you want a higher value? This may sound counter-intuitive, but "worth" is only worth something at the point of sale. Do you want a higher assessed value so you can pay the tax man?
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July 25 2011
As it should be since all solar systems are different..... 

An appraiser may have a difficult time quantitfing a value let alone a Zestimate, dont expect it to. Though your COST may be $48K, it value may be $0 to a potential buyer. Dont expect too much from a free online home value site.

Consider that the same $48K solar system may be worth one thing for a $150K home along the Oregon coast, and another thing on a mansion in Beverly Hills... That type of thing is only calcuated by a human in a formal appraisal.


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July 25 2011
 
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