solar panel

solar panel

By Adriana Espinosa, BDX

Looking for clean and sustainable energy? Look no further than the sun.

Many homeowners look into solar panels in an effort to source clean energy to power their homes. The added benefit of lower utility costs make solar panels a lucrative option for homeowners interested in saving.

With dates tracing back to 1876, solar power is not a new concept, but it has not been until recently that solar energy has hit mainstream news. With the help of recent price reductions, tax incentives, and faster installation, solar panels are becoming a more feasible option for residential use than ever before.

The advantages are clear – clean energy for cheaper. Recent numbers show that solar installation costs have already dropped 73 percent since 2006. With costs continually dropping, PV installation increased 41 percent in 2013.

As the interest for solar reaches new heights, nationally-acclaimed builders are taking notice.

Solar Impacts Housing Industry

With the solar industry growing 34 percent and its residential division growing 51 percent during 2013, the housing industry has been affected dramatically. Home builders now have the advantage to include solar panels in the construction of their homes.

Lennar for instance, now offers the option of solar panel installation during construction. As Kris Hudson from the Wall Street Journal reports, it is cheaper to install solar panels during the construction phase of a home than retrofitting an existing home with solar panels.

Lennar is not the only builder taking advantage of this opportunity. Home builders KB Home and Meritage Corp. are joining the solar effort by offering their own solar panel options as well. It is clear home builders have much to gain from the solar industry.

No Huge Rush for Solar Quite Yet                                      

In an effort to measure the influence of solar energy on current home decisions, BDX used its New Home Shopper Insights focus group to gain leads into what the housing market is really thinking.

The Home Insights panel expressed that despite the advantages of solar power, many homeowners are hesitant to invest in them because they feel the upfront costs are too great to consider, and their return will not be profitable.

New Home Shopper panelist, Christine from Michigan, expresses her reluctance for solar panels: “I love the idea of solar panels, and I would be very interested in getting some for our house. What is holding us back is the price tag on the purchase and installation. We feel like we would not get a good enough return on them.”

Ricky, a resident of Arizona, expresses similar reservations: “They can be a great thing if you live in a place with lots of sun like here in Arizona. The issues that come up though are the cost to install and maintain them once they are in place. Some people qualify for rebates and other discounts while others with older homes do not. I have thought about using them myself but the issue is with the rebates. (They) just cost too much to put in.”

With 2014’s top solar states spreading all over the map from California, Texas, New York, and Hawaii, the evident uncertainty in solar panels could be a result of the fluctuating installation costs due to varying rates dependent on the geographic area of homeowners.

Measuring the Cost of Solar Panels

According to HGTV’s True Cost of Solar Power, shoppers need to start with a budget to determine how much of their house will be converted to solar energy. With this, the appropriate system can be installed. Before federal and local tax incentives are deducted, the initial cost of solar panels can go up towards $50,000 for a 6.25 kWh system.

Factoring in the average payback period ranges from 5 to 10 years, it is clear why many homeowners might be reluctant to invest in solar panels right now.

Making Solar Energy More Affordable

The missing link to making solar panels more affordable might be the financing options available to those interested.

As reported by Planet Money’s How Solar Got Cheap, Solar City, a major solar energy company that installs solar panels for residential use, provides a payment option where residents do not have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs. Solar City offers a 20-year contract where homeowners pay their solar panels in monthly payments.

How does this work? As Jacob Goldstein and David Kestenbaum from Planet Money explain, Solar City owns the solar panels, and homeowners pay Solar City for using them in monthly cycles over the course of 20 years resulting in savings of around 40-50 percent.

Similar to Solar City, Lennar also offers financing options for its buyers. Lennar gives prospects the option to purchase solar panels or rent the system and pay for the power generated from them through Lennar’s affiliated party, SunStreet Energy Group. Its 20-year leasing agreement guarantees savings of 20 percent every month.

While the 20-year cost may exceed the initial upfront cost of installation, depending on the geographic area, it does make paying for solar energy more manageable by eliminating expensive initial costs.

The Future of Solar Energy

While solar technology continues to grow, companies have jumped in to expand the reach of solar energy.

Recently, Tesla’s Powerwall made news as Tesla Motors endeavors to get homes completely off the utility grid by supplementing solar panels with house batteries that can store solar energy harnessed from the solar panels creating even greater savings.

With processing speed doubling every two years, sooner or later more homes will be equipped with solar panels. Even the White House has installed solar panels.

It is vital for builders to remain in the lead of the current market trends for solar power. Considering the momentous growth rate of solar energy, the time for builders to provide solar energy for prospective homeowners has never been better.

Builders interested in conducting research through the New Home Shopper Insights panel can get more information by contacting Info@theBDX.com.   

As technology continues to play a bigger and bigger role in the home shopping and sales process, it is important to have tools that allow home building sales professionals to showcase and sell new homes outside of the sales center.  Giving your sales team additional resources at their fingertips makes for a better home shopping experience and eliminates the awkward, “I’ll have to check on that when I get back to the sales center” conversation.

BDX’s salesArchitect iPad application is a portable solution that allows sales professionals to present builder and community marketing information while utilizing interactive maps and site plans to visually explore community inventory.  Showcase your community details with a presentation gallery, list of plans and/or specs that are available as well as videos.  Not sure if the lot your customer is interested in is still available or allows for the floor plan they like? No problem. By using the interactive site plan with lot status feature, lot information is updated in real time.  Clients can also browse interior images as well as use interactive floor plans to dynamically explore your homes.

If you are already listing your homes and communities with BDX, synchronization to the iPad is simple. All data is managed through our web based administration console, BDXLive, and any updates or changes made to lots, floor plans, images or videos will display on your online listings and iPad application.

This technology will keep your buyers engaged during the sales process with features specifically designed for them.  Customers have the ability to personalize their shopping experience by adding plans, notes and photos to “favorites” as well as receive personalized brochures via email after their meeting.  This will keep your homes at the top of their mind even after they leave.  All guest data can be exported from the application and imported into your CRM system so you can continue to nurture the relationship throughout the sales cycle.

The salesArchitect iPad application allows you to:

  • Display multiple communities and synchronize across devices;
  • Showcase community details by listing plans and specs and display images and videos in a presentation gallery;
  • Visually highlight the details of each plan through elevations, interior and floor plan images and interactive floor plans;
  • Personalize the shopping experience for buyers by adding plans and photos to “favorites” as well as the ability to send personalized e-brochures as a follow up to their meeting;
  • Update listings and images automatically via BDXLive.

SalesArchitect is both a customized solution and the premier sales product to showcase your brand and communities to on-the-go homebuyers.  To learn more about taking your sales pitch to the next level, contact us at info@theBDX.com.

 

Coming up October 24-25th, the 8th annual Southern Utah Building Industry Conference will take place in St. George, Utah.   The conference will help builders, contractors and industry professionals to improve their knowledge of the home building industry while learning about the latest trends in construction through educational sessions and showcases.  In just one day attendees have the opportunity to see 11 presenters in 18 different educational sessions with topics ranging from builder marketing to jobsite safety and code compliance to trends in the home buying process.  Not only will you gain insightful knowledge and networking opportunities with fellow industry professionals these sessions count towards continuing education credits.

Speaking at the event will be our very own BDX CEO, Tim Costello as well as BDX VP of Client Experience, Melissa Morman.  If you haven’t already signed up to see these two new home professionals speak, you will want to after hearing about some of their hot and forward thinking presentation topics! Tim and Melissa’s presentations will earn you up to 8 Utah contractor continuing education credits; and what could be better than doing so with the industry leaders of BDX? Check out Tim and Melissa’s presentations below:

Marketing to the New Green Buyer – Presented by Tim Costello, BDX, CEO 

 Oct. 25 9:30-11:15 am

The green consumer is changing: buyers are no longer just motivated by saving the environment; they also are going green to save money, show their patriotism, and improve their health.  In this session, Tim will discuss how you can connect with these green consumers and effectively market your green programs. What green features are most important to consumers? What green messages resonate with new home buyers? Come hear about the latest in green marketing research and how to leverage it to your benefit.

She-Conomy: What Women Want – Presented by Melissa Morman, BDX, VP of Client Experience

Oct. 25 12:55 pm-2:35 pm

We have always valued the importance of the woman in the home buying decision, but now it’s more important than ever to understand what a woman wants.  Today’s female buyer is very different than previous generations and we need to understand these differences and modify our marketing accordingly. If not, we run the risk of not appealing to the female buyer, or even worse, truly alienating her.  During this session Melissa will discuss: biological differences between men and women; personality differences and how that influences purchasing decisions; how women think/react/experience the world differently; what appeals to the female buyer, and what turns her off; best practices from the homebuilding industry and beyond; how female buyers approach ‘green’ differently than males.

Home Buyer Insights – Presented by Tim Costello, BDX, CEO

Oct. 25 2:50 pm-4:30 pm

As the housing market begins to recover, the new home industry continues to try and find innovative ways to gain market share over resale homes.  During this session Tim will reveal surprising research results that will shape your approach and messaging.  Tim will discuss: what home buyers are looking for in a new home and how you can use this information to position your homes; what new home messages resonate with buyers; and how changes to the home buying timeline will affect your marketing. Tim will also discuss the impact of our nationwide new home campaign titled “Start Fresh. Buy New.”

Looking to take a break from the education sessions and blow off some steam?  Sign up to play in the Utah HBA golf tournament at the SunRiver Golf Club in St. George on Thursday, October 24th!  The course is in an award-winning master planned community with beautiful views of the red rock hills.  Register today by contacting Shari Spencer at sherispencerhba@gmail.com.

For more information and to register for the Southern Utah Building Industry Conference, please visit www.BuildingConference.com.  We look forward to seeing you in Utah!

Interested in working with BDX to improve your online presence?  As a builder’s ultimate resource for digital marketing we also have a full suite of research and tools that are available for our clients and are happy to talk with you about how we can help shape your business. For more information, visit TheBDX.com or contact BDX at Info@theBDX.com.