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So-lar Easy

To the Editor:

In “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 values.

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 solar panels.

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.

Ed Lenchitz


Stan Cox responds:

Mr. 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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