“Sorry, No Solar Panels in This Neighborhood” [July 5, 2007],
the author explains how the competing interests of property
values and environmental friendly land policies has resulted
in anti-environmental land restrictions. And by doing so plays
exactly into the anti-environment movements hands.
Most land owners don’t really care if their neighbors have
solar panels or not, or if they dry their clothing on a line
or in a dryer. What they do care about is property values.
There are few diehards who do care about the aesthetic of
solar panels, and those few are winning because the majority
believe them when they say that solar panels will lower property
The way to win this battle is not to argue how environmentally
friendly solar panels are after moving to a community. The
way to win is to insist on environmentally friendly policies
before you more in.
When house-hunting, find out if anti-environmental restrictions
exist on the property before you make an offer. If they exist,
tell the owner you are willing to buy the property, but only
if they can get a variance from the HOA before you close.
The HOA may or may not grant the request. If they don’t, keep
looking. But when the second or third homeowner comes to HOA
saying that they can only sell their house if they get a variance
allowing solar panels the community will take notice. And
those community members will go to their real- estate broker
friends and ask their opinions about the property values and
And when the agent responds “about 10 percent of all purchasers
recently have demanded that the house they are buying either
already have solar panels or be able to easily have them installed.
In 10 years I have only once had a buyer insist that he live
in a community without solar panels. I estimate a convent
barring solar panels lowers property values between seven
and 15 percent.” Then the dynamic will have changed.
Because now it won’t be property values vs. the environment,
it will be “well they are kind of an eyesore but if banning
solar panels lowers my property value by 10 percent, I think
I can live with the solar panels.
Stan Cox responds:
Lenschitz provides good advice to home buyers, but 16 percent
of Americans are already living under homeowner association
covenants, and most can't just move out. It remains important
for elected state governments to step in and forbid the imposition
of anti-green covenants by these so-called "private governments."
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