Financing Your Solar Roof

Financing Your Solar RoofGoing solar can make life sunnier for some homeowners. In addition to reducing energy dependence by “borrowing” energy directly from the sun, purchasers may also enjoy a 30 percent federal Solar Investment Tax Credit and other incentives, according to SEIA.

Solar roofing can boost a home’s equity in some cases, while making it more attractive to future buyers in sun-drenched parts of the country. Best of all, financing that solar roof may be a more attainable goal than homeowners think.

Leasing vs. Owning

Perhaps the first question a green-minded homeowner should consider is whether to own solar roofing or lease it. Leasing solar panels from a third-party provider bypasses the need to take out a traditional loan or purchase a solar roof with cash.

Energy.gov notes that PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) allow homeowners to pay fixed monthly payments based on the amount of energy the roof will likely generate over the period of the lease. But it’s worth noting that leasing also bypasses the tax credits and other financial benefits and incentives of ownership.

The Traditional Loan Route

Traditional loans can finance solar roofs just as they can other major home renovations or improvements. For homeowners who already own their homes outright, this approach offers a simple, cost-effective way to enhance the property. Other homeowners may want to look into the Department of Energy’s Residential PACE (Property Assessed Clean energy) loans aimed at promoting energy-efficient modifications.

Those who seek to take out a mortgage on a solar-roofed home, however, should watch out for the proverbial fine print. For instance, PACE loans trump mortgage loans, so having a PACE loan in place can make getting that mortgage loan impossible. 

Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Energy Mortgage

The HomeStyle Energy Mortgage from Fannie Mae offers an attractive alternative to traditional loans, according to the Washington Post. This product includes the solar roof (or other energy-efficient modification) within the overall mortgage loan.

A HomeStyle Energy Mortgage factors in the anticipated energy savings offered by the modification in figuring the loan terms. It also lets borrowers take out larger amounts that they might receive through traditional mortgages — up to 15 percent of the home’s “as-completed” appraisal value.

Some smart financing strategies can turn the objective of owning a solar roof from an out-of-reach dream into a practical reality. A skilled real estate expert can help homeowners weigh all the available options and come up with a sensible plan that suits their needs.