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View Full Version : Buying a House with Solar- Short Sale Problems.


Dylan
09-10-2012, 12:26 PM
Does anyone on here have experience with household solar systems? We are currently looking to buy a house with one installed but are having owner problems. The house is a short sale, so they're looking to take anything and everything they installed on the home after purchase with them.

The system has a total output of 1.2kwh, consisting of 5 panels and inverters. the house is tall with a tile roof, and I can't get on there to ID the panels. I have no idea how they are going to remove them! They were installed in 2010 by a now closed company here in San Diego. My question is if the panels are removed by the owner, will their be any issues with the existing utilities? What would it take to replace the panels and inverters, and how would one size them?
Thanks for your help!

Lars
09-10-2012, 01:12 PM
Well first of all I'd talk to your realtor and the bank and see if they're even allowed to take anything with them. But assuming they do and they take the panels and inverters you'll pretty much be at square one.

I think you mean to say that your system is 1.2kW which means at optimum sun exposure it produces 1200 watts of power. If that's the case, then you can buy a packaged 1.3kW system from northern tool for 10,000. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200390339_200390339

Not sure how you figure out the economics of it, I know that small systems usually have a long return on investment tho.

Dylan
09-10-2012, 01:24 PM
Well first of all I'd talk to your realtor and the bank and see if they're even allowed to take anything with them. But assuming they do and they take the panels and inverters you'll pretty much be at square one.

I think you mean to say that your system is 1.2kW which means at optimum sun exposure it produces 1200 watts of power. If that's the case, then you can buy a packaged 1.3kW system from northern tool for 10,000. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200390339_200390339

Not sure how you figure out the economics of it, I know that small systems usually have a long return on investment tho.

We're working on the legality of them actually taking the panels. The house was built in 2005, and the panels were installed by a contractor in 2010. I haven't figured out if they paid out of pocket for the panels or took out a loan not associated with the house, because there is only one mortgage on the house.

I'm not a huge proponent of solar, I do not believe that the technology is there for an individual to benefit. My concern is the safety of them removing the panels and still having it stubbed out for them on the roof. On top of that, I hope no roof tiles have been removed to mount these, thus leaving a gap. I would have been happy NOT to have them installed in the first place, and dealing with this garbage. We love the house and the owners have taken great care of it up to this point.

mcparadise
09-10-2012, 02:37 PM
Does anyone on here have experience with household solar systems? We are currently looking to buy a house with one installed but are having owner problems. The house is a short sale, so they're looking to take anything and everything they installed on the home after purchase with them.

The system has a total output of 1.2kwh, consisting of 5 panels and inverters. the house is tall with a tile roof, and I can't get on there to ID the panels. I have no idea how they are going to remove them! They were installed in 2010 by a now closed company here in San Diego. My question is if the panels are removed by the owner, will their be any issues with the existing utilities? What would it take to replace the panels and inverters, and how would one size them?
Thanks for your help!

I just had panels installed, but am no expert and my rood was asphalt shingles. Two things I would be thinking about:
1) Mine were specially bolted/sealed through the roof, don't know how they attach for a tile roof.... holes eft behind would be a problem in any case...
2) Normally the install involves having a building permit that requires a final electrical inspection, and installing some type of net metering box to connect you to the grid, or something similar. Disconnecting may involve some issues here. If this is a hot water system, then I tink things are different. Do you know exactly what they are for? 5 panels seems like a hot water system. Check the water heater and maybe you can tell.
Hope you can find out all the info you need!

jeffbare
09-10-2012, 03:35 PM
Just like a furnace or any other attached item to the house, the solar panel (system) is real property, not personal property and should remain with the house. The date in installation/attachment shouldn't have anything to do with the wether of not they are real property of personal property. I'm not an attorney, but have been involved with real estate in different capacities as a professional for over 10 years.

Dylan
09-10-2012, 04:32 PM
I just had panels installed, but am no expert and my rood was asphalt shingles. Two things I would be thinking about:
1) Mine were specially bolted/sealed through the roof, don't know how they attach for a tile roof.... holes eft behind would be a problem in any case...
2) Normally the install involves having a building permit that requires a final electrical inspection, and installing some type of net metering box to connect you to the grid, or something similar. Disconnecting may involve some issues here. If this is a hot water system, then I tink things are different. Do you know exactly what they are for? 5 panels seems like a hot water system. Check the water heater and maybe you can tell.
Hope you can find out all the info you need!

1. Much agreed. It seems like it has a track system with brackets that come out from underneath the roof tiles, but again it's 25' above me, so I have no way to identify it.

2. Yes, the permit was pulled for the install (This is how I know who the contractor was, and date of install). I inspected the panel, and it clearly states that it has solar panels. I did not see any dead giveaways of a breaker to be pushed off. I did read online though that it has to have one for the permits. I'm certain these are electrical panels. They were added on after the home was built, and I have inspected the water heater.

Thank you for your helpful reply!

Just like a furnace or any other attached item to the house, the solar panel (system) is real property, not personal property and should remain with the house. The date in installation/attachment shouldn't have anything to do with the wether of not they are real property of personal property. I'm not an attorney, but have been involved with real estate in different capacities as a professional for over 10 years.


Thank you. The issue prevalent with the short sale frenzy going on down here. I highly doubt any people are getting prosecuted for taking items like this though. On one hand, they have taken really good care of the property and it shows. The added an awesome patio in the back yard with stamped concrete, and a great shade cover a year ago. (only to walk away from it now, a year later). They are actively packing up, and the items are still installed at this moment.

maristardd
09-10-2012, 04:47 PM
In California (you said San Diego, right?) on install, utility would typically would change you to "Net Metering'.

Issue with utility is if system is removed, and you have net metering, you will need to let utility know system was removed, and they can come out and put a normal meter back in; as well they will put you on a normal residential rate schedule rather than then time of day/net metering schedule (which may be more expensive to you if you don't have solar).

BTW, they should not attempt to remove themselves as they will probably electrocute themselves or ruin stuff if they just try to cut wires. The panels are live and pumping 12v from each panel and 120/240 from inverter during daylight regardless of what you set house main breaker at. (which of course also should be off). If they don't ruin the electronics, hopefully they just unbolt panels -- they should leave the mounts which are now a sealed part of your roof, not part of the panels.

Dylan
09-10-2012, 04:59 PM
In California (you said San Diego, right?) on install, utility would typically would change you to "Net Metering'.

Issue with utility is if system is removed, and you have net metering, you will need to let utility know system was removed, and they can come out and put a normal meter back in; as well they will put you on a normal residential rate schedule rather than then time of day/net metering schedule (which may be more expensive to you if you don't have solar).

BTW, they should not attempt to remove themselves as they will probably electrocute themselves or ruin stuff if they just try to cut wires. The panels are live and pumping 12v from each panel and 120/240 from inverter during daylight regardless of what you set house main breaker at. (which of course also should be off). If they don't ruin the electronics, hopefully they just unbolt panels -- they should leave the mounts which are now a sealed part of your roof, not part of the panels.

Correct, San Diego. Great info here thank you for posting this.

Agreed on them removing the panels. They are a normal looking small family, and do not appear to have ANY sort of mechanical ability. I would be darn scared to get up there on the 2nd floor, and lower down glass panels to someone waiting below. Pure insanity!

I was talking with the realtor, thinking what the heck it their master plan anyways? Installing them on your rental house for the next three years? Cut your losses and walk away. They're likely to end up spending the money they saved removing them for medical bills when they fall off the roof.

maristardd
09-10-2012, 05:19 PM
> master plan

They probably just want to craigslist them -- someone should tell them that new 200 watt panels are about $200 or so (prices have dropped a LOT), so for their time and trouble, they'll be getting panels they'd be lucky to CL for $80-100 each -- why bother?? If they really think they will remove them, you should offer them $300 cash for the system, to purchase from them, you'll probably save at least that much in roof damage.

(and correction - I said 12v, I should have just said DC for output from panel)

jeffbare
09-10-2012, 07:34 PM
If the purchase and sale agreement (PSA) states that the solar system does not convey with the property, then they are entitled to take it. But as a Special Credits Officer of a bank, I would not allow them to take the property if the buyers made an issue of them not conveying the system with the property. I would push them to keep the system entact, or require in the PSA in an addendum that any work performed on or relating to the solar system be done by an appropriatl licensed and bonded professional, and you might want to add any work done to any penetration to the roof or exterior of the house be done by a licensed and bonded professional. I just always want to feel like there isn't going to be any additional issues, there is little chance you will have any recourse once you take possession if there is any damage done that might not be immediatly discovered.

milkmania
09-10-2012, 09:50 PM
Correct, San Diego. Great info here thank you for posting this.

Agreed on them removing the panels. They are a normal looking small family, and do not appear to have ANY sort of mechanical ability. I would be darn scared to get up there on the 2nd floor, and lower down glass panels to someone waiting below. Pure insanity!

I was talking with the realtor, thinking what the heck it their master plan anyways? Installing them on your rental house for the next three years? Cut your losses and walk away. They're likely to end up spending the money they saved removing them for medical bills when they fall off the roof.

http://deephousepage.com/smilies/rofl5.gif

Dylan
09-11-2012, 10:46 AM
> master plan

They probably just want to craigslist them -- someone should tell them that new 200 watt panels are about $200 or so (prices have dropped a LOT), so for their time and trouble, they'll be getting panels they'd be lucky to CL for $80-100 each -- why bother?? If they really think they will remove them, you should offer them $300 cash for the system, to purchase from them, you'll probably save at least that much in roof damage.

(and correction - I said 12v, I should have just said DC for output from panel)

Agreed. I found several panels in that range for $250 to $400. I have no idea how much the inverters are. On the permit application it stated that 5 panels AND 5 inverters were installed for a total of 1.2kW. Is the rating daily? I understand that the maximum output is not a realistic production value.

If the purchase and sale agreement (PSA) states that the solar system does not convey with the property, then they are entitled to take it. But as a Special Credits Officer of a bank, I would not allow them to take the property if the buyers made an issue of them not conveying the system with the property. I would push them to keep the system entact, or require in the PSA in an addendum that any work performed on or relating to the solar system be done by an appropriatl licensed and bonded professional, and you might want to add any work done to any penetration to the roof or exterior of the house be done by a licensed and bonded professional. I just always want to feel like there isn't going to be any additional issues, there is little chance you will have any recourse once you take possession if there is any damage done that might not be immediatly discovered.

It did state they did not convey, but we specifically noted in our offer that the solar panels were to remain. They're also taking the two ceiling fans on the patio (I would have replaced them anyways). I know we are the only offer on it as of now, and we made an appropriate offer given the situation. I'm also concerned because they clearly claimed the tax write off for renewable energy. I do not want to put myself in a situation where I need to repay that.

The more I research it, the less I feel about keeping them. Everything I read states that a small system such as the one installed really doesn't pencil out financially, but I sure wouldn't turn down the cost savings since it is paid for.

http://deephousepage.com/smilies/rofl5.gif

:eek3:

Dylan
09-13-2012, 04:52 PM
Well greasing the palm of the buyer seems to be working. I offered them $500 at close of escrow to leave the stuff alone and they accepted. The offer is at the bank, we'll see what they say (it might be a while). Thanks again everyone for the help!

mcparadise
09-13-2012, 06:08 PM
you wrote "...5 panels AND 5 inverters were installed for a total of 1.2kW. Is the rating daily? I understand that the maximum output is not a realistic production value."

My 20 panels are rated at 247 watts/each. Total watts is then 20x247= 4940 watts or 4.94 kw.
But, my average production for these panels is about 20 Kw hours/day. Or, 1 kwhr for each panel per day. (or 1000 watts for 1 hr).

I think the only way to make sense of your system is to talk in terms of kwhr, which is how the electric company charges you, i.e., so many kwhr per month.

So for me, I generate an average 600 kwhr/month (20 x30) and use about 750 kwh/month. The electric company therefore charges me for about 150 kwhr/month.

In Hawaii the charge (base rate + so many other rate-based taxes/surcharges, etc.) for 1 kwh is 38 cents...huge!!

Now you'all can feel better when considering your bill ;-)

maristardd
09-13-2012, 06:53 PM
> 5 panels and 5 inverters

Normally a system will have a single inverter for up to some number of panels (20?), then an inverter per bank, and you can size the inverter to the load.

One inverter per panel sounds like what home depot briefly sold, or what you can get at Fry's, a consumer installable version where output of each panel unit is AC. Basically each panel is a complete mini system.

Advantage is you don't mess with high DV voltage to inverter, and you can size/add ad hoc, disadvantage I understand it is less cost and energy efficient.

In any case, these things are pretty maintenance fee, just clean the panel every so often to keep power output high.

mcparadise
09-13-2012, 07:31 PM
> 5 panels and 5 inverters

Normally a system will have a single inverter for up to some number of panels (20?), then an inverter per bank, and you can size the inverter to the load.

One inverter per panel sounds like what home depot briefly sold, or what you can get at Fry's, a consumer installable version where output of each panel unit is AC. Basically each panel is a complete mini system.

Advantage is you don't mess with high DV voltage to inverter, and you can size/add ad hoc, disadvantage I understand it is less cost and energy efficient.

In any case, these things are pretty maintenance fee, just clean the panel every so often to keep power output high.

I have Enphase inverters which use the Enlighten system (google), i.e., each panel has an inverter which continually sends signals to my broadband cable line such that at any time you can go on-line and check that each panel is working properly, how much each panel is generating, how much the system is generating in real time or historical data, and even how many carbon off-set trees my system is equivalent to, etc.!!
The system actually sends data into the electical lines of the house and you use an ethernet bridge plugged into an outlet by your main solar power electrical panel and this sends the signal to your router and then it goes onto the web. If something is abnormal, you get an e-mail. Sick.

maristardd
09-13-2012, 08:17 PM
> enphase

That's really cool! I don't think they had micro inverters that would do that when my system was done a few years ago. My comment on less efficient may not be correct anymore.

Lars
09-13-2012, 09:39 PM
you wrote "...5 panels AND 5 inverters were installed for a total of 1.2kW. Is the rating daily? I understand that the maximum output is not a realistic production value."

My 20 panels are rated at 247 watts/each. Total watts is then 20x247= 4940 watts or 4.94 kw.
But, my average production for these panels is about 20 Kw hours/day. Or, 1 kwhr for each panel per day. (or 1000 watts for 1 hr).

I think the only way to make sense of your system is to talk in terms of kwhr, which is how the electric company charges you, i.e., so many kwhr per month.

So for me, I generate an average 600 kwhr/month (20 x30) and use about 750 kwh/month. The electric company therefore charges me for about 150 kwhr/month.

In Hawaii the charge (base rate + so many other rate-based taxes/surcharges, etc.) for 1 kwh is 38 cents...huge!!

Now you'all can feel better when considering your bill ;-)



Wow 38 center per kWh! in MN it's about 13 cents.

Dylan
09-14-2012, 01:40 PM
Good info here again, thank you guys.

I read the 5 panels and 5 inverters off the permit application, but I will be going out there again hopefully this weekend. Where would the inverters be? I want to verify the accuracy of the permit application.

I now realize why we were avoiding short sales in the home buying process.... this sucks! The owner is moving out this weekend. However, her two college aged sons are staying behind (leeching off the free rent I presume). I can only imagine the atrocities that are about to be committed. I specifically told their agent that if the condition of the house changes, we are walking on this deal. Any other advice?

h2oskifreak
09-14-2012, 02:00 PM
Just like a furnace or any other attached item to the house, the solar panel (system) is real property, not personal property and should remain with the house. The date in installation/attachment shouldn't have anything to do with the wether of not they are real property of personal property. I'm not an attorney, but have been involved with real estate in different capacities as a professional for over 10 years.

Agreed, they are a fixture and should stay. I know you are wanting to protect yourself up front (and that is wise), but will this sale actually close is the question. I have 24 years in the Real Estate business and locally, I see only about 30% of the short sales actually close.
Buyer's get tired of waiting, Banks foreclose, Banks don't respond (just had one go 14 months and fail). Even when they do respond, they sometimes counter the offer and so you really don't know what you do, or do not have at this point. If there are two lenders,forget about ever getting it done (maybe 10% success rate).

This is a tough way to buy a home. I wish you luck, but short sales are something I refer out. My time is too valuable to deal with a 70% failure rate. There are things a person can do to eliminate frustration, but way too many thing are beyond your control. Make sure your Broker protects you and don't spend any money on Inspections, Appraisal, etrc. until you have Written Approval from the lender. Good luck, but unless it's "The Home", buy something post foreclosure (bank owned), or from a private seller. Keep in mind the seller isn't getting anything out of the sale, agrees to almost any price (just to get the ball rolling) and won't have any motovation to do any repairs. They are just hanging out living rent free and the longer it takes for approval, the better for them. Trust me, this WILL wear you out.

mcparadise
09-14-2012, 03:58 PM
Good info here again, thank you guys.

I read the 5 panels and 5 inverters off the permit application, but I will be going out there again hopefully this weekend. Where would the inverters be? I want to verify the accuracy of the permit application.

I now realize why we were avoiding short sales in the home buying process.... this sucks! The owner is moving out this weekend. However, her two college aged sons are staying behind (leeching off the free rent I presume). I can only imagine the atrocities that are about to be committed. I specifically told their agent that if the condition of the house changes, we are walking on this deal. Any other advice?

Inverters are on the roof! adjacent to the panel. They probably link together into a single cable which is then fed into a power panel/brk box on the side of the house, prbably close to where the electroc meter is.

In our experience on short sales, and we never did do it, for some of the same reasons that are showing up during your "journey," it is just like buying a boat, if your intuition thinks it smells like a dead fish, it probably is one. Many times the owners purposely scew the pooch, which means destroy the house, just so they can continue with their "good" deal. Sometimes walking away, as a bluff, puts you back in the driver's seat, but you need to realize if it doesn't work don't look back.

mcparadise
09-14-2012, 04:00 PM
Wow 38 center per kWh! in MN it's about 13 cents.

we burn precious oil to make electricity here...

Dylan
09-17-2012, 01:06 PM
Swung by the house and did some recon. The inverters are definitely on the roof as stated. I can see the supply running down from the eves and into the panel. I'll see if I can attach a picture. I found a monitor in the living room that reports the solar system performance. I copied down the IP address listed, but cannot connect to it anywhere. Any suggestions?

http://img.tapatalk.com/d/12/09/18/e9uma3a2.jpg

Dylan
09-17-2012, 01:39 PM
And here is what the monitor looks like.... Trying to figure out the manufacturer
http://0.static.wix.com/media/019f51_1e785ba86743408e64a6ee1e39174cc5.jpg_512

j.mccreight@hotmail.com
09-17-2012, 01:59 PM
And here is what the monitor looks like.... Trying to figure out the manufacturer
http://0.static.wix.com/media/019f51_1e785ba86743408e64a6ee1e39174cc5.jpg_512

enphase.com is mfg of that energy monitor

mzimme
09-17-2012, 02:37 PM
That IP address (192.168.0.100) is the address on the home network. What happens is the router acquires the IP address from the ISP, then splits that within the house. One computer might have 192.168.0.101, that solar thing is 192.168.0.100, a phone might be 192.168.0.102, etc. That's just an internal networking IP address, so unless you're on the network that the energy monitor is on, you won't be able to access it.

kenps190
09-17-2012, 03:06 PM
Dylan- I purchased my current home via short sale. I will say in my experience we had absolutely ideal conditions and it took me 5 months from offer to close! The reason I said ideal conditions is because the price was right and the owner used Wells Fargo which seems to be the benchmark process for short sales and have a higher close rate than others. Many short sales never close. The most scary part of the short sale, the condition is "as is". Again, we bought from someone that touched up paint, etc. probably not the norm.
Good luck! I know I had many sleepless nights during the wait

Dylan
09-17-2012, 04:07 PM
Wow you guys are great!
I didn't realized the IP was internal, whoops! I'm prepared for a long and drawn out process. This house is like none other in San Diego. It is a recent build, and is on a decent sized lot. It's in great proximity to the lake and has plenty of side yard parking for toys. My wife loves everything about it and I am a huge fan of the newness and lack of things needing attention. The appeal of a newer tile roof, well insulated, modern floorplan is extremely rare in the area. I'll keep you guys updated on the saga. as it continues!

D3skier
09-17-2012, 04:10 PM
Wow you guys are great!
I didn't realized the IP was internal, whoops! I'm prepared for a long and drawn out process. This house is like none other in San Diego. It is a recent build, and is on a decent sized lot. It's in great proximity to the lake and has plenty of side yard parking for toys. My wife loves everything about it and I am a huge fan of the newness and lack of things needing attention. The appeal of a newer tile roof, well insulated, modern floorplan is extremely rare in the area. I'll keep you guys updated on the saga. as it continues!

considering the panels are attached to the house as well as the rest of the system I'd put the contingency in there that they must stay and if he does take them then someone will be on the hook to replace them.

Dylan
12-18-2012, 11:22 AM
UPDATE:
We finally closed! Learned a whole lot about short sale transactions, and would not EVER recommend pursuing one for friends and family. Escrow was delayed several times by the uncooperative seller. They viewed the transaction as we were taking advantage of them. Quite the contrary! We bought them out of their debt obligation! If anyone ever has any questions about the transaction or is looking for advice, feel free to PM me. The work has already begun on the new place!

Thrall
12-18-2012, 07:22 PM
Congrats on the house. I looked into short sales enough to know that they wouldn't work for me because when I move I don't have 6months to d!ck around with buying a house. Wouldn't believe some of the crazy offers we got from crooks (homeowners) short selling their houses to to try to get us in!
There were/are some crazy good deals though, like yours Im sure, if you can wade thru the crap to get them.
(I say crooks becasue every one we dealt with deliberately quit making payments while driving their new $60k cars with $100k's of furniture and Sachs/Nordstroms filled closets and simply quit claimed the house to the partner that was not the bread winner (wife typically). Let the wife take the credit hit and the husband buys a newer, bigger house for less $ all the while not paying a penny on the one they not only purchased, but then HE loaned all the equity out of it when values were sky rocketing.)

Did they leave the solar?

BrianM
12-19-2012, 05:04 PM
Agreed, they are a fixture and should stay. I know you are wanting to protect yourself up front (and that is wise), but will this sale actually close is the question. I have 24 years in the Real Estate business and locally, I see only about 30% of the short sales actually close.
Buyer's get tired of waiting, Banks foreclose, Banks don't respond (just had one go 14 months and fail). Even when they do respond, they sometimes counter the offer and so you really don't know what you do, or do not have at this point. If there are two lenders,forget about ever getting it done (maybe 10% success rate).

This is a tough way to buy a home. I wish you luck, but short sales are something I refer out. My time is too valuable to deal with a 70% failure rate. There are things a person can do to eliminate frustration, but way too many thing are beyond your control. Make sure your Broker protects you and don't spend any money on Inspections, Appraisal, etrc. until you have Written Approval from the lender. Good luck, but unless it's "The Home", buy something post foreclosure (bank owned), or from a private seller. Keep in mind the seller isn't getting anything out of the sale, agrees to almost any price (just to get the ball rolling) and won't have any motovation to do any repairs. They are just hanging out living rent free and the longer it takes for approval, the better for them. Trust me, this WILL wear you out.


This......... but it sounds like it finally worked out for you more than 3 months later which is kind of quick for a short sale.

Dylan
12-20-2012, 10:35 AM
Congrats on the house. I looked into short sales enough to know that they wouldn't work for me because when I move I don't have 6months to d!ck around with buying a house. Wouldn't believe some of the crazy offers we got from crooks (homeowners) short selling their houses to to try to get us in!
There were/are some crazy good deals though, like yours Im sure, if you can wade thru the crap to get them.
(I say crooks becasue every one we dealt with deliberately quit making payments while driving their new $60k cars with $100k's of furniture and Sachs/Nordstroms filled closets and simply quit claimed the house to the partner that was not the bread winner (wife typically). Let the wife take the credit hit and the husband buys a newer, bigger house for less $ all the while not paying a penny on the one they not only purchased, but then HE loaned all the equity out of it when values were sky rocketing.)

Did they leave the solar?

Yes, the solar system was left. Had to make a small cash contribution to keep it. I agree with what you said, and think the short sale isn't the cost savings it should be. At the end of the day, we actually did have a decent savings. It worked out for us because we decided to keep our previous condo and rent it out. So time was not an issue.

This......... but it sounds like it finally worked out for you more than 3 months later which is kind of quick for a short sale.

Right... That's all I hear is how quick it was. I have no idea how anyone could put up with it any longer. At the end of escrow, their bank drug feet and delayed it an additional 11 days.

It's all gravy now! Spent the day yesterday fixing some small things, and buying out Home Depot. I had to give my back a break, and go to work to relax today!