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RayBoggs's Advice

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RayBoggs wrote:

will solar panels add $$$ value to your home?

There have been several studies involving HUD and other entities that have concluded that a home's value will be increased by about $20 for every $1 that has been eliminated from the annual electric bill. So a savings of $1,000 per year on a homes annual electric bill would yield an increase of $20,000 in the home's value.This is not true for a solar lease though. Because the solar system is not an asset that is owned by the homeowner. In essence the monthly lease payments become a liability that many potential home buyers will not want to assume. On the surface, getting a solar system on your roof from a solar leasing company for no money out of pocket might seem like a great deal, but here are the facts behind this type of rental financing. When you sign that solar lease contract you'll be forfeiting the 30% federal tax credit which can typically be worth about $3,500 to $10,000. You'll also be forfeiting any applicable cash rebate or other financial incentives. After collecting both the 30% federal tax credit and any cash rebate, the leasing company will also apply accelerated depreciation. Despite applying all of the financial incentives, on a $0 down 20 year solar lease, the leasing company will then charge you 20 years worth of leasing payments that many times will include up to a 2.9% annual payment escalator that will raise your monthly payment, every year for twenty years. The leasing companies will try to convince you that a solar system requires a lot of maintenance and expensive insurance and costly monitoring when nothing could be further from the truth. Modern grid tie solar system require little to no maintenance and the bulk of any repairs are covered by the manufacturer's and installer's warranties. Solar panels and many inverters come standard with a 25 year warranty. Insurance can be added through your homeowner's insurance policy with little to no increase in your premium and many solar systems come standard with built in, web based  monitoring. The bottom line with insurance, repairs and monitoring is that a leased solar system will typically cost you up  to three times more than a purchased solar system, so it is actually you who will be paying for these services, not the leasing company. The leasing companies will try to convince you that these services are free but with a system cost that's triple that of a purchase, these services are absolutely not free.The leasing companies will try to convince you that a purchased system requires a lot of upfront costs and that their rental financing is the only $0 down option in town, which again is not true. There are plenty of $0 down loans available that even offer tax deductible interest and require no upfront costs. Solar leases and PPAs do not offer tax deductible interest. What's worse is that after paying 20 years worth of leasing payments that amount to triple the amount that you could have paid if you purchased your system instead, you won't even own the solar system. It will still be the leasing company's property. If you want to own it after paying your lease off, you will still need to buy it from the leasing company at fair market value. All this for only a 10 to 15% reduction in your electric bill. This is just the tip of the solar lease and PPA iceberg. For more information simply search the term solar lease disadvantages in any major search engine. There's a lot you should consider before signing that airtight 20 year lease contract.
March 04

Will leasing a solar system add value to my home? Lease $87 monthly=no electric bill.

No, unfortunately a leased solar system is not an asset and is considered more of a liability to the present homeowner and potential homebuyer. If you search the Interenet for the keywords "solar lease home sale" or anything similar, you'll find a growing number of homeowners and real estate professionals who are now complaining of having difficulty when attempting to sell a home with a solar lease attached to it. One of the primary reasons for these "underwater solar leases" is that in many, if not most cases, it is far less expensive for the typical income tax paying homebuyer to purchase a brand new solar system and keep the 30% federal tax credit, than it is to assume the remaining solar lease payments. Purchasing a solar system in today's market costs about 50% to 70% less than leasing a solar system when you consider the incentives that the lessee is forfeiting and the 20 year worth of (possibly) escalating lease payments. 
August 30 2013

We live in Orange County, NY and received a proposal from Solar City to lease their solar system

Unfortunately $139/month for 20 years isn't your true cost. You neglected to factor in the 30% federal tax credit that you're handing over as a down payment. There's also the New York solar rebate that your handing over as a down payment. The 30% federal tax credit alone is worth about $10,000.00 on a typical 6 kW system at the leasing company's much higher pricing. The leasing companies will tell you that they will apply the tax credit and cash rebate to the system price so that you'll lower the acquisition cost but the leasing company's pricing is so over inflated that the tax credit and rebate as large as they are will hardly make a dent in their price.Instead of an expensive solar lease or PPA, consumers are now buying their systems with $0 down solar loans that require no equity, that offer tax deductible interest and allows you to keep the 30% federal tax credit and any other incentives and own your solar system for a much greater return on investment than any lease or PPA.And good luck ever selling your home with a lease attached to it. What homebuyer will want to assume your lease payments on a used system, when they can buy and own a new state of the art system for less than $3.15 a watt, installed, before incentives? Don't take my word for it, search the Internet and you'll find many articles concerning homeowners who are having difficulty selling because they have solar leases attached to their homes.If I were you I would demand to see in writing, not only what the system is priced at but also the exact amount of the tax credit and cash rebate that you're forfeting before making any decision.And finally, consider this: You're paying so much more than what you would pay for this system if you purchased it instead that it is actually you that is paying for any maintenance and repairs.
August 17 2013

how do i handle selling my house and having buyers assume the solar panel lease?

The problem that you're facing is that the solar leasing companies charge at lease twice the fair market value when selling their systems. You're potential home buyer can easily pay well below $10,000 for a brand new, state of the art 5 kW system after incentives, so why would they want to assume your remaining payments or your even your $20,000 payoff on a used solar system? Today about $3.15 per watt before any incentives is about fair market value for a name brand system. You're not alone though. Home sellers across the country are now reporting difficulty when attempting to sell their home with a solar lease attached to their home.
July 19 2013