SunShot STEP Award Will Help Real Estate Agents and Appraisers Value Home Solar Systems
With residential solar photovoltaics (PV) booming in popularity, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to know that their clean energy investment will be fairly valued when they decide to sell or refinance their home. But for most real estate agents and appraisers, assessing the value of solar is a new frontier.
In an effort to close the knowledge gap, Elevate Energy has received a $445,000 cooperative award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to lead the development of online training programs that will teach real estate professionals, appraisers, and appraiser regulators how to value residential solar PV systems. Delivering on fair resale value for these arrays will help promote further homeowner investments in solar.
Elevate Energy expects to train more than 5,000 real estate agents, 700 appraisers, and 60 appraiser regulatory officials nationally in the next two years, as well as many more in the years following. The award is part of the Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) program and is funded by the SunShot Initiative, which aims to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional forms of electricity by the end of the decade.
“This is a natural extension of Elevate Energy’s philosophy that investments in energy efficiency must be fairly and consistently reflected in property values,” Elevate Energy CEO Anne Evens said.
“It’s also a critical step in the evolution of clean energy,” she said. “For residential solar power to flourish, property owners need to have confidence that their investments will be recognized in the market.”
Besides developing an online curriculum, the project will evaluate what changes need to be made to multiple listing services to give potential homebuyers useful information about a home’s solar features. The initiative comes at a critical time for residential solar PV systems. According to a recent industry report, the number of U.S. homes with solar panels is reaching the 1 million mark. The pace of residential installations has continued to climb, up 69 percent in the third quarter of 2015 from the third quarter of 2014, according to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
This trend is expected to continue, especially since Congress voted in December to continue investment tax credits for solar. A 30 percent tax credit will remain in place through 2019, ramping down to 10 percent after 2021.
Elevate’s work on the SunShot Initiative will compliment our efforts as a part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Information Accelerator, a collaborative effort among national organizations, federal agencies, and regional, state, and local leaders in real estate and energy efficiency to expand the availability and use of reliable home energy information at relevant points in residential real estate transactions. We are working with partners nationwide to improve access to and use of reliable energy information, as well as developing strategies to create a sustainable pipeline of reliable energy information on local housing stock. As we make energy efficiency information available in the marketplace, we set in motion the potential for a virtuous cycle in which homeowners are eager to pay for energy efficiency improvements because they know that they can recover some or all of the value of their investment at the time of home sale.
Elevate Energy is honored to work alongside the grant partners, including the National Association of REALTORS®, Adomatis Appraisal Service, the Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials, Energy Sense Finance, Sustainable Real Estate Consulting Services, Learning Library Inc., and The CE Shop.
More information about the SunShot Initiative can be found here.