Marin Unemployment Drops Again--Leasing Solar Panels?
Hello again. Today we have two subjects to inform about. One is great news for homeowners, and the other is a cautionary note should you be considering leasing solar panels for your home.
In the fist situation, unemployment rates dropped again in all but one Bay Area county, with Marin having the lowest rate in the state of any county.
In news that is sure to inspire continued confidence in our region’s thriving real estate markets, unemployment claims dropped in eight of nine Bay Area counties in May, and all counties are back to their lowest levels since 2008.
According to the California Economic Development Department’s May unemployment report, jobless claims across the state were down month over month, falling to 7.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. The U.S. registered an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent in May, unchanged from the previous month.
The California economy added 18,300 nonfarm positions in May, a big slowdown from April, which saw the creation of more than three times as many jobs. The construction sector continues to lead the state in annual job growth, which could provide some welcome relief to our local inventory-starved housing markets.
From April to May, unemployment claims dropped in every Bay Area county except San Francisco, where they held steady at 4.4 percent. Marin (3.8 percent) and San Mateo (4.1 percent) were the only two other California counties with better jobless rates.
Unemployment rates in all nine counties have now returned to levels recorded before the nation’s economic crisis, according to historical data from the EDD. Napa (4.5 percent), Sonoma (5.0 percent), Alameda (5.6 percent), Contra Costa (5.8 percent), and Solano (6.6 percent) counties saw jobless numbers dip to their lowest points since May 2008. Sounds pretty good, huh?
Now, on to solar panels. Solar is a great way to save on energy and help solve the growing global warming issue. However, whether you buy or lease the panels can be quite a different thing. Read on. Sure, solar panels are expensive to install, but a host of federal and state taxes helps lower costs considerably, even as increased production drives down the overall price of the equipment. (Last year, we reported on this blog that prices for solar systems dropped more than 25 percent in two years’ time.)
But a recent Bloomberg report adds a note of caution: Homeowners who choose to lease their solar systems, thereby avoiding thousands of dollars in upfront costs, might have trouble selling their houses years down the road.
That’s because the fine print in many such leasing contracts requires new homebuyers to assume the previous owner’s contract. It’s an added complexity that might scare off prospective buyers.
“Homeowners don’t understand what they’re signing when they get into this,” Sandy Adomatis, a home appraiser in Florida, told Bloomberg. “You’ve got another layer to add on top of finding a buyer for the house. It’s not a plus.”
An Arizona man said that the leased solar panels on his roof took 10 percent off the value of his home when he sold it in March. His solar contract had nearly 19 years remaining on it.
On the flip side, solar systems have been found to add value to a home — about $25,000 for California owners, according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Leased systems, however, are considered personal property and not part of the house. As such, a solar lease could be considered a liability rather than an asset.
The solar industry counters that rooftop panels, whether owned or leased, make a home more attractive to buyers.
“They’re essentially moving into a home with a lower cost of ownership, a lower cost of energy,” Jonathan Bass, a spokesman for San Mateo-based SolarCity, told Bloomberg. “It becomes a selling point instead of a point of misunderstanding.”