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Gephardt: How Solar Panels Affect Loans, Refinancing & Selling Your Home

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah – Home solar panels are enjoying their day in the sun. A recent Pew Research Center survey found nearly half of homeowners have given serious thought to adding solar power in the past year. 

One option is to buy the solar panels outright, but the average system can cost between $15,000 and $25,000.

As a result, many people lease their rooftop panels instead. That could cause big headaches when you want to get a loan or even sell your home.

Michele Templeman installed 16 panels on her Pleasant Grove home’s rooftop about five years ago. She said they knock about $100 off her monthly power bill, but there is a snag — and it’s a big one.

“I discovered about a week ago that they had put a lien on my house without telling me,” Templeman told KSL.

A lien basically tells the world you owe some money. This notice stopped Michelle from using her home as collateral on a line of credit.

“There is no amount attached to it. It’s very vague,” Templeman said. “So the bank doesn’t want to go forward until it is resolved.”

Templeman said she called her solar company, Vivint Solar, and they told her it’s not a lien, it’s a statement.

Michele Templeman installed 16 panels on her Pleasant Grove home’s rooftop about five years ago.

Technically, it is called a Universal Commercial Code-1 (UCC-1) financial statement and many solar companies use these when you lease panels, as Templeman did.

Technically it’s not a lien on your house, but it sure can act like one because it turns up in any title search on your property saying this company has a financial stake on those rooftop panels.

You can call Vivint Solar to get that UCC-1 filing temporarily lifted when you’re refinancing or using your home as collateral.

Templeman said she tried doing that, repeatedly.

“I asked to speak to a supervisor several times. The supervisor was not available and the supervisors never called me back,” she explained.

That’s when she decided to get ahold of the KSL Investigators and this time, we contacted Vivint Solar.

Finally, they lifted the UCC-1 filing and Templeman got that line of credit from her bank.

Again, it’s only temporary. That filing goes right back on her property.

There’s going to be another major snag if she decides to sell her home before her contract ends.

She’ll need to find a buyer who is willing to take over her solar panel lease. If she can’t find one, she’ll have to buy out her contract with Vivint Solar.

KSL 5 TV Live