Effect of Solar Panels on Property Values

When consumers interested in solar approach me, they often feel frustrated by HOA restrictions that were written years (sometimes decades) ago which severely restrict or ban solar panels. HOAs often fear that panels lower the property value of homes. The National Association of REALTORS® released a sustainability report in April 2019 which gives statistics about how sustainable features affect property values. (Scroll down for more data). As a general rule, sustainable features add value to the property much more often that it decreases value. The report’s bottom line: 69% said energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable.

I’ve had HOA leaders ask me what suggestions I have for writing new policy. My philosophy is that  money-conscious & ecology-conscious consumers should have the choice to own alternative energy- regardless of the neighborhood in which they live- because it saves consumers a significant amount of money, and mitigates carbon. However, I understand that some homeowners think that the aesthetics of solar panels may decrease property value. NAR research doesn’t support that viewpoint, but I understand and honor that concern. To strike a balance, I favor one of two policy models which allow solar panels, but provide location and aesthetic restrictions. Model #1 is the most restrictive, and has two very simple rules reflecting a good middle-ground compromise:

  • No front-facing solar panels.
  • Side-facing solar panels must be black-on-black (gridless). No restrictions on rear-facing panels, which could be the black-on-silver grid aesthetic.

This approach preserves the aesthetics of the front facade of all homes, minimizes aesthetic impact of side-facing panels, and still allows many (not all) homeowners in the neighborhood to own solar. This policy may disappoint people who own homes on the north side of a street, if their roof is north/south oriented: it clearly states they cannot have solar on their roof. However, if the backyard is large enough, this policy doesn’t prevent the homeowner from having a ground-mounted system behind the house, or perhaps on a detached garage, workshop, or patio pergola.

Model #2 is less restrictive, allows everyone to have solar, and has just one rule:

  • Front- and side-facing solar panels must be black-on-black (gridless).

Which model is right for your HOA? The answer depends on the neighborhood. Multiple factors should be considered, including style of homes.

My opinion only: to restrict solar panels any further than the above suggested models would also be restricting potential property value increases. NAR data supports this conclusion.

Please call/text me if I can be of assistance in your neighborhood. 614-383-3879

Home Energy Audit vs. Profile

One of the best things I’ve ever done as a homeowner was complete a home energy audit in 2017. The offering cost only $50 through Columbia Gas and enlightened me with a short list of energy-mitigating projects that could save me money, along with incentives to complete the projects. It used to be that both AEP and Columbia Gas offered these low-cost home energy audits. Unfortunately, AEP no longer offers them, so if you have an all-electric house, you will need to pay face value for an audit. However, AEP does offer an online energy profile which costs nothing except about 15 minutes time.

Both the Columbia Gas home energy audit and the AEP home energy profile provide the homeowner with a nice kit of energy-mitigating supplies like LED bulbs, weather stripping, outlet insulation pads, low-flow shower head, smart strip, and so on. The supplies from AEP arrive in the mail. The supplies from Columbia Gas come with the vendor performing the audit, which lasts about 3 hours and is both exhaustive and enlightening. I highly recommend that you watch the audit being performed; you will learn a lot about your home’s energy loss and where simple leaks can be DIY-sealed.

If you have service from both AEP and Columbia Gas, you can (and should) complete both a low-cost audit with Columbia Gas, and an online profile with AEP. You will receive the energy-mitigating supplies from both companies, as well as tips & resources to save money from both.

A home energy profile through AEP (free) provides targeted guidance on steps you can take to lower your usage. You will not interact with any consultants, and no one will visit your home. A home energy audit through Columbia Gas ($50) will provide a much more exhaustive and lengthy report, detailing every opportunity for improvement. You will interact with your auditor on audit day, as well as have a follow-up with the auditor on how to interpret the report, and next steps. It is very much a guided experience. At any time, you can call the home energy audit office for additional assistance.

Having done both an energy audit and energy profile, I can tell you that the improvements we’ve made significantly impacted how much money we spend on utilities. More importantly, it has drastically improved the comfort level in our home. Now, when it is 90 degrees outside, our air conditioner rarely needs to run.

Unfortunately, these energy audit & profile programs are too often overlooked and underutilized. Do not hesitate to complete them. The time and money spent will be worth it. Schedule your audit at columbiagasohio.com/energy-efficiency/for-your-home/home-energy-audit and complete your energy profile at aepohio.com/save/residential/programs/In-homeEnergySavings/default.aspx.

What a SELLERS MARKET!

If you’re a Columbus homeowner thinking about selling, read this and consider selling soon.

Yesterday I had the honor of presenting five offers to a couple whose house had been on the market for only 4 days. As I was driving to the appointment, another offer flew in at the last minute. As we considered a half-dozen offers, thankfully one stood above the rest. The purchase price was well above list price, the buyers offered cash above the appraised value of the house, and closing was a swift 25 days away. This is what buyers are doing to win a bid in Columbus now.

What came next was surprisingly difficult. We had to choose a backup offer. The offers were so good, it was hard to choose. What a great problem to have!

All day long, my phone blew up with people excited about the outcome.

It’s springtime, and real estate season! This season winds down in mid-June when excitement about inventory starts to dwindle as back-to-school gets closer. People begin to realize that moving at the same time as school begins is a challenge they may not be willing to face. So if you’re thinking about selling, call me now, and let’s get it on the market! Who knows? There may be a half-dozen simultaneous offers in your future. 614-383-8379


NEW LISTING! 194 Bergoholt

It’s hard not to be excited about this listing in Blacklick. The floors & mechanicals are BRAND NEW. Fresh paint inside and out. Wooded backyard view. Arched doorways throughout. Vaulted master. Jetted hot tub. Gas log fireplace. Loft with closet. Walk to neighborhood park. Less than a mile to shopping. Easy highway access. What’s not to love? Open house Sunday 4/28 at 2 pm! Call me at 614-383-8379 for info and showings.

Homesellers workshop March 13- Gahanna Library

Selling a home can be a scary set of circumstances to enter. This workshop is designed to de-mystify the process, decrease your stress, and help maximize the value of your home. Attendees will receive valuable tips, timelines, and resources. Most importantly, you will learn how to prepare the property, and how to avoid transaction pitfalls. Free and open to the public, but limited seating. Register to attend by clicking this link. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ten-steps-to-selling-your-home-tickets-57094476115?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete

Why Solar makes Sense and Cents in Ohio

From a purely economic standpoint, solar energy is a better-performing investment than many other investments. In Ohio, we have two incentives that make the transition to alternative energy much more palatable. In addition, solar companies add their own incentives as discounts or promotions. The combination of federal, state, and local incentives leverage your money to make returns greater than the average investment.

The 30% federal tax credit comes back dollar-for-dollar the winter or spring following installation, in the form of a tax refund.

At the state level, Ohio has a financing incentive called Ecolink loan in which the state reduces your interest rate 2 to 3%. The result is a remarkably low interest rate at which to finance not only your solar, but also any other expense, as only 50% of the loan must apply to an energy-mitigating project. In 2016, my husband and I added solar to our house and renovated our kitchen, which we financed at 1.54%.

Periodically, solar energy companies have a promotion. One company that I work with had a $650 promotion for a home expo. This included waiving site assessment fees ($150), and deducting $500 off the total system cost. To inquire about current promotions, please call or text me at 614-383-8379.

How much money you save depends on how long you own the system. As a general rule, the return on investment is roughly 7 to 10 years. So if you own a system for 25 years, you’ve saved about 3 times as much as you spent. That’s assuming that the cost for electricity holds steady at 2019 rates. Of course we know it won’t; there is no reliable way to predict how expensive electricity will be 25 years from now. If you own solar, you won’t care.

Many people wonder if there is enough sunlight in Ohio to make solar a sensible investment. The answer is yes. One of the top 10 states leading in solar energy is actually north of Ohio: New York, which has fewer average hours of sunlight compared to Ohio.

Some people assume that they can’t afford solar. The truth is that you need only 10% of the cost of the system to go solar, OR patience to wait 3 weeks for the state to vet your ECO-Link financing application. Let me or a solar company show you how affordable it is. In fact, doing the long-term math is a very enlightening exercise that demonstrates how solar is not only affordable, but economically the right choice by far.

The sooner you own solar, the more money you save. The 30% federal tax credit expires December 31, 2019, so don’t put off your solar adventure. Call or text me at 383-8379 to begin exploring possibilities.


Home Expo 2019 Solar Seminar!

One of the biggest advantages of installing solar is the opportunity to finance another home renovation project at a super-low interest rate through the Ecolink Loan Program. For example, when my husband and I installed solar on our home in November 2018, we also renovated our kitchen, and financed both upgrades at 1.54%. You read that correctly. It’s not too good to be true, and yes, it does feel like free money! We held on to our capital, and diverted it to other uses. That kind of financial freedom is incredibly powerful. What you could you with the capital you have earmarked for a home renovation project? Go on vacation? Buy a car? Dream big, the possibilities are endless. Come to the Home Building and Renovation Show and see what home projects you could tackle with a Ecolink loan!

I’ll lead a seminar about solar energy at 11 am on Saturday, and you’ll learn about the Ecolink loan program, residential solar energy, and ways to unlock your money’s potential!

Solar Workshop at Sunbury Urban Farm

The best time of year to learn about solar energy is around the equinox, which is September 22nd. You can look at your site and determine the average solar exposure, knowing that it will be better 6 months of the year, and worse 6 months of the year.

On Saturday October 6th at 10:30 am, I will be teaching a free solar energy workshop at Sunbury Urban Farm, 2140 Sunbury Rd. More information can be found here.

Customer Service Above All

At a recent closing, I saw my client out the window walk right past the closing office, looking like she was on a mission. Wondering if she was lost, I resisted the urge to text and re-direct her. So I waited, patiently, until she arrived at the closing office with a beautiful bouquet. I then realized her mission was to buy some flowers for me. She and her husband also made a gift to the wind ensemble that I founded and conduct, which was a beautiful, meaningful gesture. This is what clients do when they feel like their wishes have been honored, and their goals met.

 

I’m on a mission, too. My professional goal is to treat every client just exactly the way I would want to be treated: with care, kindness, honesty, and integrity. With promptness, and swift answers to questions, none of which are ever “dumb.” With the kind of personal touch that necessitates going above and beyond. When dealing with clients, I simply ask myself how I would want any given scenario to be handled, and then I handle it that way. Turns out that the golden rule is applicable to any situation, at any age, well beyond the Kindergarten years in which we learned it.

 

Customer service is absolutely the driving force behind my work. I’ve left places of employment because I was mystified at by the self-above-client culture dominating the workplace. When you put a customer first in that environment, you get sideways glances from the co-workers who expected you buy into the culture.

 

Here’s the reality of having a “customer first” philosophy: Every transaction will take more time. You will work harder, and the hours you work won’t fit neatly into 9 to 5. You DO hold proverbial hands if necessary, you DO have face-to-face interaction, you DO make personal phone calls, and you DO arrange for every contractor to give the same personal treatment that you give. All of the above takes time, and more time translates to fewer transactions. You know what? I’d rather make less money from deliriously happy clients than make more money from clients who got shortchanged. I’m different, I’m not rich, and that’s OK.

 

If you’d like to experience that personal touch in real estate or solar consulting, please call or text 614-383-8379. I look forward to serving you.

How Failed School Levies Affect Property Value

It’s all about supply and demand.

Well-supported schools draw families to a district, reducing inventory in that area. Reduced inventory drives the price of homes up, and stabilizes the ‘micro-economy,’ or economy of the area. Conversely, under-supported schools with higher student/teacher ratios and fewer curricular opportunities drive families away from the district, increasing available home inventory, which drives property values down (sometimes significantly) and de-stabilizes the micro-economy.

The best example of this can be found in Grove City, Ohio 2009. My in-laws live in Grove City, so this hit us on a personal level. In a paralyzing turn of events, the Grove City school levy failed, prompting extracurriculars to be abruptly cancelled, class sizes increased, classes cancelled altogether, sports (including football) to be cancelled, and buildings closed. Marching band season was scrapped. Teachers were immediately laid off. Students relying on sports and music scholarships had no venue to perform. Perhaps the most painful outcome, however, was the split schedule forced upon students and families. Some high school students went to school from 7 am to 1 pm, and some went to school from 1 pm to 7.

Families trying to salvage their student’s senior year (and scholarship opportunities) immediately fled to other districts. Seeing the exodus, businesses got nervous and followed suit. Those families and businesses took their money out with them.

The closure of school buildings hurt the Parks and Rec department, as venues for their programs were shuttered.

Surrounding geographic areas sensed the collapse and started actively recruiting people. The Grove City Mayor was forced to address City Council about the poaching, citing a Dispatch ad enticing Grove City residents to move to Pickerington. According to meeting minutes, he said “…You never recover from those residents that move away; the companies that never come; etc. We need to educate the public and ourselves over the implications that another failed Levy would have on the City.”

Indeed, as residents and businesses left Grove City, property values dipped well below values in peer districts. Home sellers took giant losses totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

When levies are up for a vote, it is often argued “I have no plans to move, so I don’t care about property value.” For those homeowners, it is wise to remember that sometimes people sell because they have to, not because they want to. No one plans to get divorced, no one plans to lose their job, and no one plans an abrupt move to take care of a sick, injured, or aging family member. However, those scenarios force people to sell their homes, like it or not.

Keeping property values stable is the best way to insulate homeowners from devastating losses. For this reason and a host of others, please support your local school levy.