Selling a House With Solar Panels

It doesn't have to be difficult

Solar panels on homes were incredibly popular just a few years ago.

However, if you’re looking to sell a house and you have solar panels fitted to it, there may be a little reluctance to even view it.

Solar panels can make money for homeowners, and there are some buyers who would love to have them, but there are many situations where homebuyers have seen the large panels on a property and consequently lose interest in the property. This is because, in their minds, the panels don't look good on a building.


Why have solar panels in the first place?

Selling a House With Solar Panels UK

The fundamental argument is clear: having solar panels on a property is better for the environment. On top of that, it can save a

homeowner money because once they are fitted you won't be paying power companies for power. And there’s also something called the ‘feed in’ tariff.

The feed-in tariff essentially pays homeowners for generating their own power. Because they are feeding into the nation's power, they receive a payment.

 


Why don't people like solar panels?

They're unattractive in some people’s opinion.

Around the country, fitting solar panels has not been a huge trend. It is quite likely that house viewers will see the panels on the marketing material the estate agent provides, and back off.

Another reason why solar panels are an issue for some buyers is that maintenance of the roof is automatically more difficult. Negotiating the set of panels is not easy, and like most installations, they are susceptible to damage. Even slight accidental damage can affect their efficiency. Some builders and roofers, for example, may even prefer not to work on your roof.

When panels are installed, it’s quite possible that some damage will occur to a roof.


Selling a home with solar power

This is a funny situation, because in theory you shouldn’t have any problems with such a sale (barring the cosmetic aspect) due to the fact that solar power saves money for homeowners. However, the problem arises around the circumstances under which the solar power panels were fitted.

If you own the panels and you bought them outright, your property is immediately more attractive. You will have benefited from free electricity while also selling the excess through the government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT). The FIT will have provided you with an income stream.

If a solar panel provider has instead leased the panels and the airspace above it, the provider will receive the FIT payments.

However, below you can see how the FIT payments have reduced since 2011, up to 2015. So while you may have a situation where the new owner doesn’t receive the FIT, it has been reduced significantly since 2011.

Digression Date for Solar PV

Feed-in tariff rate (pence / kWh)

01-Aug-11

43.30

01-Apr-12

21.00

01-Aug-12

16.00

01-Nov-12

15.44

01-Jul-13

14.90

01-Apr-14

14.38

01-Jan-15

13.88

01-Apr-15

13.39

01-Jul-15

12.92

01-Oct-15

12.47

And the latest figures for the end of 2017:

Description

Total Installed Capacity (kW)

Tariff (per/kWh)

Standard Solar photovoltaic receiving the higher rate

0-10

4.00

10-50

4.22

50-250

1.89

Standard solar photovoltaic receiving the middle rate

0-10

3.60

10-50

3.80

50-250

1.70

Standard solar photovoltaic receiving the lower rate

0-10

0.38

10-50

0.38

50-250

0.38

Standard large solar photovoltaic

250-1000

1.54

1000-5000

0.38

Stand-alone solar photovoltaic

0-5000

0.23

Source: Ofgem Tariff Rates

So, massive reductions there. If you are selling a property within 20 years of the installation of panels, you pass on the FITs to the new owner.


How to get your property ready for sale

If the panels are still new

The newer your panels, the more likely people will be happy to purchase the house. And if you’re currently taking FIT payments, these will be passed on to the new owners. This is of course not a bad deal for new owners, even as the tariff has reduced. It’s still an income and they receive free electricity.

In addition to that income, the new owners will have panels that are still relatively young, and therefore covered under warranty, as well as being robust enough to last for the years to come.

If you sell when new though, you have the obvious downside of missing out on the FIT payments in the years left in the FIT contract. Again, while this may not be a huge amount, relatively speaking, it’s still money.

If it’s a mature installation

You’re still looking at a property that has value. The increased energy efficiency that the installation brought to the property will continue to make a difference to the homeowner’s financial situation, due to the reduced costs.

Once you’ve decided to sell your property, you have to make a few decisions around the property and the solar panel aspect that will help a sale to go smoothly. Ignoring the following points may mean you lose money when a sale takes pace.

  • The obvious first port of call is the panels themselves. If they're working and are still maintaining their efficiency, that’s this part of the issue solved. If they're not working or are in bad shape, you need to ensure a repair takes place. They should still be under warranty
  • Make sure all the paperwork for the installation is available and carefully filed. This includes the FIT contract with the supplier, and accounts of any payments you have received
  • If you’re able to take a long-term view on how the panels have reduced your energy bills, then you should be ready to show this information to estate agents and/or buyers.
  • With the estate agent, try and locate one that understands solar energy and the benefits it brings to a home. This means they will most likely work harder to sell the property, as well as price it accordingly

While selling a house with solar panels is by no means impossible, you’ll have to work with the agency/buyers to ensure the sale is transparent and there is no lack of information. And ensure the panels themselves are still producing the value they are designed to do.