Home Finance Options are Adapting to Meet California’s Solar Landscape

As California continues to push aggressive policies for the advancement of solar deployment in the state, options for homebuyers to finance solar also are growing to meet their needs.

Independent mortgage lender Guild Mortgage has launched a new program to help homebuyers in California include solar PV systems with their mortgages. Guild’s FHA Solar program gives someone buying a home the opportunity to combine the financing for their home and solar panels into a single transaction.

Few lenders offer options for purchasing solar panels with a home, according to Guild. One example is Fanny Mae’s HomeStyle Energy mortgage, says Erin Watts, VP of product strategy. But Watts said that the FHA Solar program saves the homebuyer money by allowing for the Federal Housing Administration-required 3.5 percent down payment on the base price of a home, and then the solar panels are financed on top of the base price.

“We’ve been looking for solutions for solar panels to be included in a new home or even an existing home, so I think that our timing in releasing this program along with the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) solar mandate created a really proactive approach to homebuyers so they can add this feature to their home at a lower cost than other solar programs,” Watts said.

The CEC on May 9 approved a rulemaking on energy efficiency building standards that requires new homes in the state to have solar PV systems starting in 2020.

Watts said that the FHA Solar program is the first step in other programs that will be coming in the future.

“We are continuing to develop new ways to make adding solar easier and cost-effective for home buyers,” she said.

Watts added that new options for home plus solar financing likely will grow outside of California, too.

“I think, with a lot of other states following suit, especially in those areas where solar is important, such as Arizona and Florida, we believe based on the requirements of those states and the government, that lending agencies will begin creating programs to fit those needs,” she said.

Lead image credit: U.S. Department of Energy | Kate Costa | Public Domain | Flickr

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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