Anyone in the market for a new home can tell you the search process is both exciting and nerve-racking. Between location, school district, lot size, HOA fees and property taxes there’s a lot to consider. But what if that unicorn of a home finally pops up in your search results and it has solar on the roof? And further, what if it’s a solar lease that will need to be transferred? Can that make or break a deal?
It doesn’t have to, as long as the seller and the buyer both play their parts.
When you buy a home with an existing solar lease, it effectively means you will have to assume the lease contract and payment for the remainder of the term of the lease. As a part of this process, the solar provider who owns the system will need to run a credit check and verify your identity.
PRO TIP: Ask the seller to share the last 6-9 months of electricity bills so you can get an idea of your future utility bill. Also, request a copy of the lease contract from the seller and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions. Your realtor may be able to assist you with this.
The seller also has some action items. They will need to pay a small processing fee for the termination and refiling of the UCC filings. A UCC filing allows the owner of the system – the solar company — to notify other creditors about a debtor’s assets used as collateral for the purchase. The seller will also need to provide some extra paperwork as part of the Escrow Package, including documentation of the terminated UCC filings, assignment of the lease, and – for those who live in California — a draft of the extinguishment of PUC. (The PUC is basically a document that says the home has an independent solar system that can be used to produce or sell energy.)
Timing to complete all these steps varies but sellers should give their provider at least 30 days’ notice to make sure the paperwork is in order. SunPower makes this step easy for homeowners who need to transfer or change their lease with an online form.
If taking over the lease isn’t for you, you can investigate buying the system outright. While this means making a lump sum purchase, the system would be yours and you would own all the energy you produce. Many long-term homeowners prefer this option as it decreases the total investment in the system while you will continue to see lower electricity bills.
Unfortunately, canceling a lease or having the panels removed is not usually an option. However, every solar company handles this differently so it’s best to check the contract to understand your options.
The upside of buying a house with solar? To start, you’ll be saving money and generating cleaner electricity on the first day you move in. Also, since the system is already activated, you don’t have to shop around for a dealer or coordinate with the installer. Need more from your system? SunPower has a network of nationwide dealers ready to assist if you decide you would like to add panels or battery storage to your existing system.
This post originally appeared on the SunPower Resource Blog