The solar sales rep said that adding solar PV to my home will increase its value; will it?

There are several factors that would need to work in your favor so that the solar PV system you are installing would add contributory value at the point of sale.

Fannie Mae gave clear guidance on December 16th, 2014 that leased solar PV systems could not add contributory value if the mortgage is sold into the secondary mortgage market. Approximately 75-80% of residential sales get sold to that market. If you decide to own the solar PV system, there will still be challenges to attaining the contributory value of the system that the real estate industry faces.

Industry Challenges:

1) The listing agent.  If the agent doesn't understand the contributory value at the time of taking the listing (when the list price is set) you have lost the opportunity of seeing any payback. Additionally, very few agents are knowledgeable and competent enough with how the systems work to answer questions potential buyers might have. And then there is the issue of how to market a home with high-performance characteristics effectively.

2) The MLS. There are over 850 MLSs in the country; if your home is in a MLS territory that has not implemented green data fields, the information about the system can only be expressed in the remarks section of the listing information or be conveyed by some other marketing piece. Without green data fields in place, listing agents and appraisers may not do the extra work needed to find data that supports value.

3) The appraiser. Appraisers are also required to be knowledgeable and competent about the properties they are appraising. Properties with green certifications like LEED, or with solar PV owned by the homeowner, demand a specialized knowledge by the appraiser. The Appraisal Institute and other appraisal organizations offer green property accreditation. Make sure that you or your listing broker asks the bank assigned appraiser questions about their green accreditation and their experience appraising these types of properties before they see the property. There are additional tools for appraising green buildings that the property owner or developer should fill out, sign, and deliver to the appraiser by the time of the site visit.

If the listing agent and appraiser do not understand the value of the solar PV system there is no value.