Frequently Asked Questions
Questions About Approaching Your Clients:
Q. Do you have a template to illustrate monthly savings for us to send out to our clients?
A. Every client is unique, and the best way to represent the benefits of making the switch to solar is to provide your client with a customized proposal. However, if you want to know what to sayin order to start the conversation with your client, you can say the switch to solar can:
- Protect you from rising electricity costs.
- Facilitate independence from the grid so that you are not affected by brownouts/blackouts.
- Increase the value of your home.
Then, all we need you to do is make a warm introduction to your Executive Account Manager who will do the rest.
Remember: RRE exists so that you can work once and get paid twice… no need to invest much time… no need to learn anything new. Keep it simple.
Q. How much do I need to know about solar when talking to potential clients?
A. Next to nothing. What you need to tell them is that thousands of people across the country have saved money and increased the value of their homes by switching to solar power, and that as their trusted Real Estate Advisor you would love to maximize the value of their home by connecting them with a reputable company that is eager to serve them with the highest level of integrity in the solar community. Also see answer above.
Q. Should I switch to solar myself before I talk about it and suggest it to my clients?
A. Of course this is not a requirement, however it’s a very good idea! If you’re a homeowner, then making the switch to solar is something you should be considering for all the same benefits that apply to your clients. And yes, by making the switch yourself, you will be able to share your experience and the benefits of solar power with your clients from a personal level, which conveys a more powerful message. Ask your Executive Account Manager for a free and customized home energy assessment to learn how much you can save!
Questions About Commissions:
Q. Once my clients decide to make the switch to solar, how long will it take for me to receive my commission?
A. Once a system is installed, we will receive the commissions for the transaction from the installation company. Any commissions received by RRE prior to the 15th day of any given month will be paid on the last day of the same month. Any commissions received by RRE on or after the 15th day of any given month will be paid on the 15th day of the following month.
Installation timeframes vary depending on the speed of the permitting process of the city in which the home is located, as well as the age of the home. Recent trends and efforts from local municipalities and governments have reduced permitting timeframes allowing most installations to occur in under 60 days from the date of contract execution. Some installations, however, can take longer due to various factors outside of RRE’s control.
Q. Am I violating RESPA by making a commission for a client that switches to solar?
A. No. If the pool guy, the yard guy, the roof guy, or the interior decorator guy gave you a commission for referring a client, you would not be violating RESPA. Solar is no different because it is not a real estate transaction. Because switching to solar does not imply a change of title, or a lien being placed on a property, RESPA does not apply. One of the functions of RESPA is to protect a homeowner from indirectly paying for “kickbacks” in a real estate transaction. Making the switch to solar power in a home does not fit the definition of a real estate transaction.
Q. How can I be assured that you will pay me my commissions?
A. Firstly, that would be unethical and also detrimental to our business. Secondly, the contract that you sign with us prior to submitting your first client binds us to paying you your commission as described within the contract. You may also at any time request an estimate of what your commissions will be for a client you have in process, but keep in mind it will be just an estimate and subject to change due to reasons, including but not limited to, modifications at the time of installation that are outside of our control.
Q. Will I really get paid when one of my clients refers another client?
A. Yes! We know there are few better ways to get more referrals from you than to send you a check you weren’t expecting! Your contract specifies how you will be compensated when one of your clients refers another, but you can also reach out to your EAM for an explanation, and be sure to check out the ‘Understanding Commissions’ page on your Dashboard where you will find explanatory videos as well as a commission calculator that breaks out the income you’ll receive actively and passively.
Q. I have a client in process. How do I know what I will get paid?
A. Two simple answers here. Firstly, you can reach out to your EAM who will walk you through the numbers. Secondly, you can check out the commission calculator on the ‘Understanding Commissions’ page found on your Dashboard. In both cases, keep in mind these are just estimates and subject to change due to reasons, including but not limited to, modifications at the time of installation that are outside of our control.
Q. Will the homeowner be able to power their home at night if they switch to solar?
A. If you switch to solar, you will still be connected to the grid. During the day, you are selling excess electricity to your utility company. At night, you are buying electricity from your utility company. If the house has a battery however, then the homeowner is able to store their own electricity which they can use to power their home at night instead of buying electricity from the grid.
Q. What if my clients need maintenance for their solar panels?
A. Every homeowner is provided with an app that measures the performance of their solar system and has contact information for any maintenance and warranty-related matters.
Q. What kind of warranty is available for solar panels, batteries, and all other solar system equipment?
A. This is a very broad question that is product specific. However, you can expect warranties to extend for as long as 10 to 25 years.
Q. If a client lives in an area where the fog or cloud cover is heavy, can they still reap the benefits of switching to solar?
A. While fog and cloud cover may affect the efficiency of the system, it will still work. Your Executive Account Manager will provide the homeowner with a customized energy assessment that will factor this into account.
Questions About Cost And Tax Benefits:
Q. I heard that a homeowner can use Federal tax incentives to reduce the cost of switching to solar by up to 30% of the cost of the system. Is this true?
A. Yes, but it is important to inform clients that the ITC (Investment Tax Credit) decreases the more they wait to make the switch to solar. It will not always be as high as 30%, therefore the sooner your clients switch to solar, the better.
As a best practice, do not provide any tax advice to your clients unless you are also a tax professional. You can instead refer them to this article which explains ITC very well.
Our partner Tax Advisory Firm can also consult your client on how to correctly file their Federal income tax return in order to maximize tax incentives and depreciation of the system.
Q. I have clients that own multiple properties. Can they take advantage of Federal tax credits on each property that they switch to solar?
A. Yes, your client can take advantage of ITC (Investment Tax Credit) on each property BUT they MUST familiarize themselves with ITC. See answer above.
Questions About The Effect On The Value Of The Home:
Q. People say solar power adds value to a home but an appraiser said it's not true in all cases because of the comps they have to use. Which is true and which is false?
A. You don’t agree with appraisers when they use the wrong comparables that jeopardize your closing, but now you choose to listen to them? Joking.
The appraiser might find this useful: https://catalystsol.com/property-value-with-solar/
Q. Do you have an article/data on solar panels increasing equity in the home?
A. Of course, here it is: https://catalystsol.com/property-value-with-solar/
Questions About Monthly Savings:
Q. I heard that a homeowner that switches to solar can make some money by selling their extra power to the utility company. Sounds too good to be true. How does this work?
A. This largely depends on the size of the system. Generally speaking, during the day the solar panels may produce more electricity than what is required to power the home. The excess electricity can be sold back to the utility company. This mechanism (which is called Net Metering) plays a large role in the monthly savings a homeowner can benefit from by switching to solar.
Q. My client has solar power in their home but still gets a large bill from their utility company. Why?
A. Although the utility company will continue to charge a nominal connection fee, the bill should not be large. It’s possible that your client increased their energy consumption. If they didn’t, they were possibly sold the wrong size system. There are several variables in play that could have created this situation. It would be best for you to connect your clients with your Executive Account Manager who will provide them with a customized home energy assessment of their current needs and situation.
Q. I have a homeowner that wants batteries in their home so that they can store electricity. If that makes the monthly cost of going solar the same or more than their current electricity bill, then why would they get batteries or make the switch to solar at all?
A. If you could lock in the price of gas from a few years ago, would you? Of course you would. There is no difference with electricity because the cost keeps going up each year. Here is a look at some historical trends for the price of electricity: https://catalystsol.com/energy-rates-rising/
As far as batteries are concerned, they are vital for maintaining your independence from the grid in the event of brownouts/blackouts. What’s that worth to your client?
Lastly, making the switch to solar increases the value of a home, as you can see here: https://catalystsol.com/property-value-with-solar/
Q. How long until a client notices the change in their power bill after they switch to solar?
A. Once the solar system is turned on, the change in power bill will be reflected on the following billing cycle.
Questions Related To The Sale Of The Home:
Q. Why would I suggest to my clients to switch to solar if that will hurt my ability to sell their home in the future because they have to pay off their solar loan first?
A. Recent changes in solar financing have been made such that most solar loans can in fact be transferred to a new homebuyer without being paid off. Be sure to take a look at Old Beliefs vs. New Reality on the Home Page of this website.
Q. It's hard to sell a home with solar. What if a future buyer doesn't want it?
A. We can help you educate the seller and/or future buyer of the home about the fact that homes with solar sell just as quickly and for a higher price. With laws in favor of solar sweeping across the country, in a matter of 3 to 5 years homes with solar will sell for more than those without. Here is some data to support that: https://catalystsol.com/property-value-with-solar/
Also, here are some questions for a skeptic to consider…
- The State of California already requires new homes to be built with certain Energy Efficient criteria such as solar power. How long until other states follow suit?
- And what will happen to electricity consumption with the ever-increasing prevalence of Electric Vehicles? What will happen when the Federal Government mandates that all new vehicles be electric?
Asking these simple questions will help any logical person to recognize the trend toward which the industry is moving, and that it is only a matter of time before solar power in homes becomes ubiquitous.
Q. I’ve had nightmare transactions with homeowners that got PACE Financing. How is this different?
A. PACE Financing involves a type of loan that can take 1st lien position on the title of a home. This can prevent a homeowner from refinancing and could jeopardize the sale of a property, hence the nightmare you are referring to. As a first course of action, your Executive Account Manager will secure financing from providers that do not take a lien position on the home. This ensures that a future real estate transaction is not compromised.
Q. I have an investor that wants to buy multiple homes on an ongoing basis. How does the solar loan affect their credit and how would that affect their ability to obtain mortgage financing in the future?
A. This would mostly affect the debt-to-income ratio on a mortgage application, but it’s no different to your client taking out a loan to buy a new car. Although most solar loans will appear on a client’s credit report, it does not impede a client from obtaining a mortgage. Like any consumer loan that reports to the credit bureaus, it must be factored into a client’s debt-to-income ratio. However, keep in mind that most investors that own multiple properties don’t fit the profile of a mortgage applicant that would use a full-documentation loan (ie. tax returns) which is when the debt-to-income ratio matters most. The majority of clients that fit the profile of a real estate investor are able to take advantage of tax laws that allow them to have a low taxable income which rules out a full-documentation loan in the first place. Most real estate investors use non-QM or alternative documentation mortgage types such as a DSCR (Debt Service Coverage Ratio) loan that allow them to qualify for a mortgage using only the proposed rent of the property they are acquiring, and not their debt-to-income ratio. In other words, there are mortgage loan types that are not affected in any way by your client taking on solar loans.