For most real estate transactions, Rhode Island law requires that a seller complete a detailed disclosure form that is provided to prospective buyers. Common practice is that the listing agent uploads this form on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for buyers’ agents to review and share with their clients. This is an important document that reveals any known defects about the property but it is also a good way to promote positive features, such as a young roof, new heating system and your solar panels!
Unfortunately, the current disclosure form leaves a lot to the imagination when it come to the home’s solar equipment. It simply asks if the system is owned or leased and how old it is. There is no place to write in the system size, inverter type, whether there is an assumable loan or what metering program the current homeowner has with National Grid. In defense of the form and its authors, it is meant to be a disclosure and not designed to be a marketing tool. This creates a lost opportunity for sellers of solar homes.
I represent as many buyers as I do sellers, so I know firsthand that the disclosure form is often reviewed before the first showing and almost always prior to the buyer making an offer. This is where so many agents and solar homeowners lose their audience. A buyer might think the idea of renewable energy and lower utility costs sounds cool, but they don’t know what they might be getting into and are left in the tumbleweeds with no information booth in sight.
Here is our opportunity to shine! Generate some production reports, provide actual utility bills (with sensitive information removed) and fill out the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum for your Realtor to upload. Buyers’ agents are already going to be downloading your disclosures to share with their clients, so let’s give them the information they need to be comfortable exploring something that might be new to them. Even if they are not clear on what the data means, they will feel confident enough to book a showing, trusting that we will be able to answer any questions they have prior to making an offer. A buyer who loves your house will take the time to learn about your solar panel system, just like we all did when we made the decision to have one installed on our homes.