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Homes Powered by the Sun: Sell For More, Becoming New Standard

Saturday, November 26, 2011   /   by Justin Hoffmann

Homes Powered by the Sun: Sell For More, Becoming New Standard

They might be a costly addition to your home at first but solar panels are boosting a home's resale value, according to a study earlier this year by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Homeowners may recoup their full investment from the installation and then some, when their home is sold.

Over a period of approximately a decade, about 2,000 solar homes in California were analyzed by researchers and compared to about 72,000 comparable homes not solar powered.

Here's what the study found that estimates for average photovoltaic (PV) premiums among a large number of different model specifications coalesced at a $17,000 price increase for a relatively new "average-sized" (based on the sample of homes studied) PV system of 3,100 watts (DC).

According to the report, the PV energy system is rapidly growing, especially in California where (at the time of the report) almost 100,000 were installed in mostly residential properties.

However, the report authors indicate that, "Although this research finds strong evidence that homes with PV systems in California have sold, on average, for a significant premium over comparable homes without PV systems, the authors recommend that extrapolation of these results to different locations or market conditions be done with care".

Studies like this one may be influencing builders. KB Homes announced this month that the company is making solar power a standard feature in its homes that are being developed in Southern California beginning next year. This development will apply to 28 home communities, an increase from just 10 communities in March.

Keeping in line with the study's findings, KB Homes reports that their homes with solar power as a standard sell for 30 percent higher than in their communities where that feature isn't offered as standard.

When the company launched its solar standard initiative it aimed to reduce energy costs by about 30 percent for a home ranging from 1,800 to 2,000 square feet by using a photovoltaic system of 1.4 kilowatts.

That's being bumped up quite a bit for these other communities which will offer homes with solar power systems ranging from 1.8 kilowatts to 3.15 kilowatts with the highest-end system potentially reducing monthly energy bills by as much as 80 percent.

KB Homes, which builds homes in 11 states, has offered solar power systems in some of its homes in California and Colorado communities for years but never before as a standard feature. KB Homes plans to gauge the enthusiasm and interest from buyers and accordingly expand the solar feature to other regions.

As builders add green features like solar power, energy efficient appliances, lights, and windows, it's important for homeowners who plan to sell their homes to understand that these features can influence buyers.

If your home is low on energy efficiency it might be worth it to see which additions you could install to help bump up the green...going green could mean better and higher-priced offers.

by Phoebe Chongchua

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