Leased Solar Panels And Selling Your Home

Can going green by leasing solar panels for your roof cost you money — or give you headaches — when you go to sell the house?

Possibly both.

Say you get pitched by one of the growing number of companies offering solar panels at no upfront cost that they claim will save you lots of money on electricity bills. Sounds like a slam-dunk. So you sign on.

Then a few years later you decide to sell the house. You assume that the presence of solar panels can only be a marketing plus, maybe even get you a higher price. Everybody goes for green, right?

But that’s when it gets weird. Some would-be buyers balk when they learn that they’ll need to qualify on credit to take over your solar lease payments for the next 15 to 17 years. Others say they like the house but won’t sign a contract unless you buy out the remaining lease payment stream — $15,000 or $20,000 or more — because they’re worried that the solar equipment will become obsolete or won’t save as much on electricity bills as advertised.

Issues like these are popping up increasingly in California and other states and are interfering in sales and closings, according to real estate industry experts.

Consider what happened to Nora and Andrew Barber when they wanted to sell their home near Fresno. They needed to move because of an employment transfer to Thousand Oaks. Their house attracted offers quickly, but two successive sets of buyers backed out of contracts because of the leased solar panels on the roof. They either thought the long-term cost of the lease from Clean Power Finance was too high or got cold feet after hearing what credit qualifications they’d need to take over the lease.

Meanwhile, the Barbers were in the middle of negotiations to purchase their new house and making preparations to move.

“It was a nightmare,” Nora said. “We were in a panic” — pressured by the need to close the new purchase yet still dealing with unexpected complications caused by the leased panels. Finally, they paid $22,000 to get out of the lease and sold the house.

Steve Olszewski, senior vice president of operations for Clean Power, said that as a matter of policy, the company does not comment on cases involving its customers. He added that “we have seen very few instances” of home buyers “not wanting solar.” In 95% of cases, he said, buyers take over the solar agreement as-is or the home seller “pre-pays the agreement” or purchases the equipment outright.

Lynn Farris, a realty agent with Windermere Hulsey & Associates in Vacaville, Calif., says disputes arising over solar panel leases are “becoming an increasing problem” for sellers and buyers, and because of the rising popularity of solar, “it’s going to get worse.”

She has seen sales fall apart when the parties couldn’t agree on how to handle the substantial payments owed on long-term leases — in one case it was nearly $30,000 — or because buyers thought the leases “were really bad deals.” Out of four leased panel agreements she has analyzed, “only one was any good,” she said.

Nationwide, residential solar installations are booming — up by 50% per year since 2012, according to the Solar Energy Industries Assn. More than 600,000 homes and businesses now have on-site solar, with the fastest growth rates occurring in Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.

The biggest player in the field, SolarCity — backed by deep-pocket venture capital and chaired by Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — says it now has 190,000 customers in 16 states. Jonathan Bass, vice president of communications, says working out smooth transfers of leased systems from sellers to buyers — or buyouts of systems — is a priority. SolarCity has a 12-person team that already has arranged “close to 3,000″ transfers, Bass said.

Takeaways from all this? Top of the list: Be aware of the potential complexities that can occur when you lease, rather than buy, solar panels.

If you opt for a lease, understand your long-term obligations, and talk to your current utility company about the savings claimed. Most important, if you’ve got a leased system and plan to sell, contact the leasing company well in advance to learn about the lease transfer and buyout options. That way you’ll be ready if prospective buyers have problems with your panels.

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April 1, Curbside Bites Food Truck Markets (Lunch) Every Wednesday 

Every Wednesday, a caravan of food trucks are conveniently located in Little Italy to serve lunchtime meals. Each food truck has its own menu choices. Pick your favorite and it’s quickly served.

Time: 11:00 am –  2:00 pm

Location: B Street (between India St. & Columbia St.)

For more info: Christian Murcia @ (714) 718-1330 or visit


April 3 – 5, Spring EGGStravaganza at Birch Aquarium

Celebrate the arrival of spring and the changes it brings as you explore animal eggs, join an underwater egg hunt, and make your own plankton and shark egg crafts and more!

Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Location: Birch Aquarium, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla

For more information visit:


April 4, Padres Fan Fest

The event is free for all fans, but you must obtain a FanFest voucher to enter the event. Vouchers for both Members and general fans will be made available at a later date. FanFest parking is free for all fans and available in the Lexus Premier lot. The exhibition game between the Padres and the Mexico City Red Devils is slated to start at 2:00 pm.

Time: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Location: Petco Park – San Diego, CA 92101

For more info: (619) 795-5000 or visit:


April 4, Peace – Love – Run

The hippie era of the 1960’s was about peace and love. So, get in the groove and choose the course that suits your fancy. The event offers a Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and a Kids Dash. These courses are perfect for beginners and seasoned athletes. All finishers receive a medal.

Time: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm

Location: call for details.

For more info: Rosemarie Gibson @ (619) 491-0677 or visit


April 10 – 11, VinDiego Wine & Food Festival

The 3rd Annual VinDiego Wine and Food Festival is a true wine connoisseurs delight. VinDiego is about people coming together to celebrate a shared passion; a passion for great wine & mouth-watering gourmet food.

Time: visit website

Location: 2875 Dewey Road, San Diego, CA 92106

For more info:


April 10 – 12, Goodguys Meguiar’s 15th Del Mar Nationals 

This festival features over 2,500 hot rods, customs, classics, street rods, muscle cars and trick trucks. This event also showcases vendor exhibits, an indoor car show, a swap meet and a cars-for-sale area, special “themed” parking, model car show, and lots of fun for the entire family!

Time: Fri. – Sat.: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sun.: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Location: 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar

For more information visit:


April 11, Bluegrass Day at The Flower Fields

Family and friends can enjoy a full day of Bluegrass music with the sounds of guitar, banjo and fiddle! This year there will be a number of bands. Stay tuned for the full line-up!

Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Location: The Flower Fields, 5704 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad

For more information visit: 


April 11, The Women’s Running San Diego Half Marathon & 5K

This half marathon and 5K event is designed for women to compete against other women. It presents a pleasant bayside run with waterscape views in a non-intimidating and supportive environment. The post-event celebration offers music, awards, and light refreshments.

Time: 6:30 am – 10:30 am

Location: call for details.

For more info: (858) 450-6510 or visit


April 12, Village Street Faire

The 2015 Village Street Faire returns for its third year! This spring festival is a free, family-friendly event that brings the party to Third Avenue. The event will feature live music, exotic foods, arts and crafts, games and more!

Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location: Third Avenue between E St. and G St., Chula Vista

For more information:


April 12, 7th Annual GranFondo San Diego Bike Ride

Cyclists of all ages can join an Italian cycling tour that features several distances; 105-mile, 56-mile, and 34-mile courses. They are social rides that begin in Little Italy and travel eastward through cities, towns, and rural countrysides. There are many pleasant views along the way.

Time: 7:15 am –  5:00 pm

Location: call for details.

For more info: Tobias Panek @ (858) 668-1739 or visit


April 17, Rock in the Park – Berkley Hart Selis Twang

Eve Selis and Marc Twang join forces with folk circuit mainstays Berkley Hart. They’ve merged their various instrumental, vocal and writing skills to create an album full of memorable songs.

Time: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Location: 1875 El Prado Balboa Park

For more info:


April 18, Fighting Parkinson’s Step by Step 5K Walk/Run

This is more than just a 5K walk/run; it’s a day of fun for the whole family! Other activities include: Paws for Parkinson’s Pet Festival, medical expo, health and fitness pavilion, marketplace, kids zone, food court, beer garden, photo booths, classic car shows and so much more!

Time: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: Liberty Station NTC Park, Farragut Rd., San Diego

For more information visit:


April 18 – 19, 23rd Annual Oceanside Days of Art

This is a juried fine art festival featuring over 100 local artists selling a variety of unique artwork including paintings, sculptures, stained glass, ceramics, fine jewelry, photography and more. The festival also has live stage performances and hands on art activities. This is a free event.

Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location: 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside

For more information visit:


April 19, Fallbrook Avocado Festival

Sample avocados, check out the crazy cooking contest entries, buy funky avocado-themed gifts and enjoy bands, live entertainment and friendly beer gardens. There will also be many craft and food booths to enjoy. Don’t miss the fun at this family friendly event!

Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location: E Alvarado St. and S Main Ave., Fallbrook

For more info:


April 19, San Diego Earth Fair

The annual Earth Fair in Balboa Park is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world. Earth Fair 2015 will be the 26th annual event!

Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Location: Balboa Park

For more info: (858) 272-7370 or visit


April 21, ArtStop: Divine Desire

This ArtStop discusses Divine Desire: Printmaking, Mythology, and the Birth of the Baroque and is led by Michael Brown, Ph.D., Associate Curator of European Art.

Time: 2:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Location: 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

For more info:  (619) 232-7931 or visit


April 25 – 26, Mission Federal ArtWalk

This event will fill 17 blocks and feature over 350 artists from all over San Diego, the U.S. and Mexico— showcasing every medium of art. The weekend will also include music, live performances, street food, interactive art activities and a family friendly kids walk. This is a free event.

Time: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Location: Between Ash and Grape St., San Diego

For more information visit:


April 25, Walk For Wishes

An event that raises money and awareness to help make more wishes for children with life-threatening illness come true in the community. Wish Families and supporters walk in honor, remembrance and celebration of the many local Wish Kids.

Time: 7:00 am

Location: Embarcadero Marina Park South, San Diego

For more information visit:


April 25, Walk Multiple Sclerosis 2015

Multiple Sclerosis is a disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. About 400,000 people in the U.S. suffer from it. You’re welcome to join individuals, corporations, and teams on a seaside walk.

Time: 7:00 am –  1:00 pm

Location: call for details

For more info: Jennifer West @ (760) 448-8435 or visit


April 25, Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival

50 Breweries, 7 Bands, 2 Stages, 1 helluva day. Join the 4th Annual Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival presented by the San Diego Brewers Guild. Once again Rhythm & Brews continues the tradition of bringing many of the nation’s most popular craft beers together with talented musicians in a beautiful outdoor festival located in the historic Vista Village district.

Time: 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Location: Vista Village District, Vista, CA 92084

For more info:


April 26, La Jolla Shores 5K

Participants who join this 5K run/walk will travel along a coastline with scenic views of the ocean and through cozy neighborhoods of La Jolla. The finish area is at La Jolla Cove where a celebration awaits your arrival. This event is in conjunction with the “La Jolla Half Marathon”.

Time: 7:30 am – 12:00 pm

Location: La Jolla Cove – La Jolla Village Dr.

For more info:  (858) 454-0777 or visit


Courtesy of:

Ivan Solis, Jr. / Title 365 / / 619.804.9000

Audrey Means / Lawyers Title / / 619-212-2945

Hidden San Diego – Harper’s Topiary Garden

Some things just project whimsy, and a topiary is one of those things. Green shrubbery grown and trimmed into animals or shapes always bring fascination and smiles to anyone. Typically, you would see these garden trophies in large public venues like estates or parks or other public gathering places. And there’s one fascinating topiary garden tucked away in a San Diego neighborhood.

Known as Harper’s Topiary Garden, this labor of love is the work of Mission Hills residents Edna and Alex Harper. Sure, many private yards might have a bush or two shaped into a topiary, but Harper’s garden is more than that: over 50 creatures and shapes populating her hillside garden. And it’s all done for the public’s enjoyment.

The garden was started over 15 years ago when the formerly basic garden began to transform after the Harpers were inspired by gardens they saw on their travels. The collection includes a surfer, elephants ridden by monkeys, a rooster, a Buddha, pyramids, a whale,and more. The Harpers do all of the shaping, with the assistance of their gardener, and Edna supposedly spends hours each day tending to the sculptures.

A favorite place for those who have discovered this whimsical piece of living art, Harper’s Topiary Garden has attracted attention from both locals and tourists, and the Harper’s welcome anyone who wants to take it all in and let their imagination run wild.

Just remember, the garden is the Harpers’ private residence and property, so please be respectful of their creations and don’t abuse the privilege.

Harper’s Topiary Garden is located at 3549 Union St., south Mission Hills, where Vine Street meets Union Street.

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Cats You’ve Never Heard Of … Or Have You?

Cat margay natgeo

The margay (Leopardus wiedii), or tree ocelot, displays huge eyes as it prowls through a forest in Gamboa, Panama.

Near threatened, according to the IUCN Red List, these agile cats can be found from Mexico and down into Central and South America.

Males and females can be as small as seven pounds, but males grow as large as 15 pounds (three and seven kilograms), while females top out at 11 pounds (five kilograms).

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Women Challenging Rules, Changing History

Sabiha Gökçen of Turkey poses with her plane, in 1937 she became the first female fighter pilot.

Sabiha Gökçen, Turkey, first female fighter pilot