My neighborhood has totally gone solar.
Well, at least several of my neighbors have. Just in the past 30 days alone, I’ve watched three of them on my street (and it isn’t a large street) install solar panels at their homes. Driving around my neighborhood, it seems like almost every other house has shiny black solar panels on their rooftops.
Did I miss some sort of neighborhood special going around to go solar?
Then I realized that we had one of the hottest Junes this year in decades. My A/C definitely was running for longer periods than usual. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw my own electric bill for June. And I too had the thought at that time, “What if WE went solar?”
A few Google searches later, I put that idea to rest (again). We’d need a pretty nice five-figure down payment to make that happen. I knew that already because I had done the same search before when my mind was boggling the last time my electric bill was so high. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen right now with the child care costs for my three little kids looming over my head. That’s another story for different day.
But even if I did have the extra funds to go solar, would it be worth it? More particularly, would it make the value of my home go up too? Not that I plan to move anytime soon, but I at least want to continue having some equity in my own home. I get this question every now and then from other homeowners as well.
Armed with my local MLS access, I dashed to my computer and looked up closed sales of single family detached houses within the past 90 days in Irvine. 313 records. When I added in the search parameter for the word “solar” in the property description, I got 15 records back.
Of these 15 records, most had 3 to 5 bedrooms, with only one 2-bedroom property in there. Most were newer, built between 2013 and 2015. The sales prices ranged from $874,990 to $2,160,000, with the 2-bedroom selling for $677,500. Just about all sold for less than originally listed.
I chose one of the properties that was located in Quail Hill (still city of Irvine) to look into a bit further since it is an established neighborhood compared to Stonegate and Portola Springs, which are still growing areas. The latter two areas had a few recent sales of homes with solar panels as well.
What did I find? The house that sold in Quail Hill with solar panels included sold for $1,265,000. It was on the market for 152 days and originally listed for $1,289,000. Other comparable homes nearby sold for $1.4 million and higher. Now, keep in mind that location, view, upgrades, etc. all factor into the sales price.
What does this all mean?
Well, not much. I would have to do a lot more research than looking at just one property in a specific area of Irvine to come up with a truly intelligent conclusion.
But what I can say is this: The house probably did not sell solely because it had solar panels. A buyer will likely want a home with the perfect kitchen instead, with having solar panels being a nice bonus right now. That at least applies in my area of Orange County.
So if your reason for going solar is to increase the value of your property by $20,000 or more, I would say that right now you’d better have another reason besides just that one. It’s a great perk for the next owner, but I don’t think it’s at the top of anyone’s home search criteria right now. A more functional layout, an upgraded kitchen, and nicer interior features seem to matter more to homebuyers at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong. I would love to go solar myself at my house. I would love to have a low or non-existent monthly payment for heavy electricity use. But to do so because it’d make my house more marketable to sell in the next few years would not be the reason why I would do it. That’s just me though.