Tim and Savana Howe say that as soon as they saw their Anthem home less than a year ago, they knew they had to buy it.
"So, this is the backyard. When we got here, it was pretty tore (sic) up,” Tim told 3 On Your Side as he gave us a tour around.
“We found this house and we fell in love with this lot,” his wife Savana added. “We fell in love with the yard. And, the layout."
The couple immediately started some small home improvement jobs to increase the home's value.
But, they started one project they are now regretting. And, it all happened because of a door-to-door salesman.
“This all started with a knock on the door?” Gary Harper asked. "I bet that's a knock you wish you didn't answer."
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“Oh, yeah," Savana said.
The salesman convinced Savana and Tim to have more than $34,048 in solar panels installed and to finance the whole deal. They did, but mainly because there was an incentive.
"We were told that it would increase the value of our home by 20 percent," Savana said.
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But the couple claims that's just not true. And, because they installed more than $34,000 in solar panels, they're now having an extremely difficult time selling their home.
In fact, they say it could take years before they sell it.
"I definitely feel like I'm being held hostage in our home," Tim said.
Here's the problem: the Howe’s home is appraised at around $300,000. But don't forget, they have $34,000 worth of solar panels that they financed that the new buyer will have to make payments on as well. That means any prospective buyer actually has to qualify for two loans totaling $334,000.
Lance Billingsley is a licensed realtor and appraiser here in the Valley.
"As a real estate agent, do you even like showing homes with solar?" Harper asked
"Oh,” Billingsley said slightly hesitating. “That's a good question."
Billingsley says buying a home that has solar can be attractive to some. Still, he says there are hurdles that buyers and sellers just aren't aware of when solar is in the mix.
"I think the best piece of advice I can give Gary is that if you're going to sell your house, start immediately with dealing with that solar company when it comes to transferability and what the repercussions are,” he told us.
For the Howes, their options are few. They can either cut a check for $34,000 so they can pay off that solar loan and be allowed to sell their home or they'll have to rely on a buyer who qualifies for both the home and the solar panels and that can be dicey. Think about it, if you qualify for $334,000, why not just buy a bigger, better home?
Lance and Savana say they wish they never went solar and wish they would have asked more questions before committing themselves.
"The long-term, over the years, we thought it would be a home run. But, we're finding out differently now,” Tim said. "It's a complete dud. In fact, we feel like we're being held hostage."
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