Green features in homes are beginning to be appreciated by buyers but not as much as some would like. Solar panels can be a hard sell on some properties while other factors such as location and proximity to shopping, restaurants and transportation command a higher value.

Green features Have Environmental and Financial Benefits But….

It seems like there’s a slight shift happening in buyers’ attitudes towards sustainability features in homes. While many buyers may appreciate the environmental and financial benefits of green features, they’re not necessarily willing to pay more for them. However, there’s a growing acceptance of these features, such as photovoltaic solar panels, which were once seen as a turnoff but are now viewed more neutrally.

One interesting observation is that buyers prefer to own the solar panels rather than leasing them, possibly due to concerns about giving a solar panel company rights to their roof. This preference for ownership could be a significant factor in the adoption of solar technology in residential properties.

There’s a complex interplay between buyers’ attitudes towards green features and their actual impact on purchasing decisions. While many buyers may not prioritize green features during the initial purchase process, there’s a recognition that these features are becoming more prevalent due to updated building codes and regulations.

Interestingly, certain green features, particularly those related to location such as walkability, are valued more by buyers. This suggests that while some green features may not directly influence the purchase price, others tied to location and lifestyle preferences hold more sway.

Furthermore, the focus on post-sale benefits, such as lower utility costs and improved indoor air quality, suggests that the value of green features may become more apparent to homeowners over time, even if it wasn’t a primary consideration during the purchase.

Overall, while the impact of green features on home prices may not be fully realized yet, there is possibly a growing awareness and interest in sustainability in the real estate market, presenting opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

Solar Panels

The National Association of Realtors conducted a survey of members on sustainability and green features in homes.  Thirty one percent of agents responding said that properties with solar panels were perceived to have a higher value while thirty two percent of respondents said that solar panels had no impact on value.  Twenty two percent of agents responding said that solar panels negatively impacted the property’s value.

According to the NAR report, 37% of respondents did not think that solar panels impacted the length of time a home stay on the market while 32% said the length of time was unclear and 25% said it was either a little longer or much longer.

By recognizing that not every buyer will sign an offer based on the seller’s “go green” attitude alone, a seller can take care to position the home’s solar power as a selling point and mitigate hassles that create friction on the way to a closed deal.

Buyers are less likely to choose a home with solar panels that are leased because that constitutes a lien against the property and the buyer must go through a separate qualification process with the solar company to assume the lease. Some buyers won’t want to tack on that extra monthly expense to their overall housing costs.   It is easier to sell a home with solar panels that are owned outright.  If a seller is trying to sell a property with leased solar panels then the seller should consider buying out the remainder of the lease prior to the sale of the home.

The bad news is that with the typical cost of solar system installation averaging around $20,000, the seller could be on the hook to pay a significant sum, depending on long ago the panels were installed and how many payments are remaining on the lease. In the DC metro real estate market, solar panels are not something that most buyers list as a must have. A home with leased solar panels can be harder to sell and may require the seller reduce the price to find a buyer willing to take on the lease.

Green House Features that Buyers Do Value

Fifty two percent of consumers considered important or very important a home’s doors/windows/siding (the age and quality and energy efficiency) and fifty percent considered the proximity of a home to frequently visited places, such as schools, shopping, restaurants and transportation to be important or very important.  A comfortable living space (which is certainly not green dependent) was considered important or very important by 45 percent of the consumers, outranking other considerations like utility bills (44%),  commuting costs (33%), energy efficient lighting (25%) and renewable energy systems (12%).

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling a home with sustainability features or solar panels, you should hire a Realtor who understands how to market a home with green features.   This is particularly important if you have a solar lease.  You should hire a Realtor who can help a buyer navigate through the process of assuming a solar lease and to help you navigate the process of paying off a solar lease.

If you are considering buying a home in the DC metro area, lets talk!   Some sustainable and green features are worth paying more for while others are not.  Do you know which ones check the “get it for free” boxes? I do!  You can reach me at 240-401-5577 or email me at

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