Should you install solar panels before selling your home?

Should you install solar panels before selling your home?

With all the recent talk of floods, global warming, climate change and the need for us all to be a bit more green and environmentally friendly, now seems as good a time as any to discuss the benefits of solar panels.

There are definite pros and cons to solar panels, but will they add any actual value to your home?

What are the pros?

With the price of traditional energy rising steeply, the lower electricity bills that can be achieved through the installation of solar panels will be a significant draw to buyers.

They are not only attracted by the prospect of lower energy bills (who wouldn’t be?), but it’s also been shown that buyers are willing to pay a little bit extra for a home with a solar PV already installed because of the cost-effective benefits and green credentials they provide.

What’s more, solar panels have a long shelf life (assuming they’ve been installed correctly) and require little in the way of maintenance over time.

There is also such a thing as the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT), which can further increase your property’s appeal and value to buyers. To encourage the creation of clean, renewable energy through solar panels, the government came up with the idea of the Feed-in-Tariff, where homeowners with solar panels are offered an ongoing payment for the electricity they produce.

As an incentive, it’s not a bad one – get paid to produce cleaner forms of energy. It’s also, of course, quite a good weapon to have in your sales strategy. You can say to the buyer “here is something we have installed already, for your benefit. It won’t need much maintenance and it guarantees you a small, free income from the government.” Win-win, right?

In addition, your house’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grade can be improved by solar panels. Every property in the UK that is being bought or sold must have a valid EPC, graded from A (highest) to G (lowest).

It’s important to remember that EPC ratings can have a bearing on house prices. It’s not unheard of for solar panels to increase a property’s rating by at least two grades. In monetary terms, this means an EPC rating moving from band D to a band B could increase a home’s value by over £16,000.   

What are the cons?

Solar panels, like anything else, don’t come without their downsides. First and foremost, they’re by no means cheap. It can cost anywhere between £6,000 and £9,000 to buy and then install solar panels.

While this initial payout is typically recovered in 7-8 years (thanks to the savings made on energy and payments from the government), it is still a considerable investment if you are looking to sell your home.

On the other hand, if the investment leads to your home jumping in value by more than £9,000, then there is a good argument that it would have been more than worth it.

There are also often concerns about the aesthetic appeal of solar panels. To some, they are an eyesore and extremely unattractive. While solar panels come in all shapes and sizes and, with better technology, are taking on sleeker, slimmer and more modern designs, they may not fit with all types of properties. Solar panels on a period property, for example, might look a tad incongruous.

Another worry is their effectiveness. Solar panels rely on sunlight to produce electricity. As our weather forecasters frequently point out, we’re quite often starved of sun in the UK. This means that the solar panels are a bit redundant at certain times of the year, particularly in the colder, greyer, rainier months. It is a lot of money to spend on something that can be without a function for months and months of the year.

To conclude, there are persuasive reasons to install solar panels – cheaper energy bills and FiT payments for potential buyers, plus added value to your home – and there are persuasive reasons not to – the high costs, questionable aesthetics and season-related effectiveness.

But, with buyers becoming ever more energy and environmentally-conscious, there is definitely something to be said for investment in solar panels. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s something to consider for sellers looking to maximise the value of their home.