Buyers paying a premium for off-grid homes

Homes that have significant off-grid installations can see a 20% increase in their value when selling. Picture: Krišjānis Kazaks/Unsplash

Homes that have significant off-grid installations can see a 20% increase in their value when selling. Picture: Krišjānis Kazaks/Unsplash

Published Apr 8, 2023


Residential properties that have solar power and other off-grid features are more in demand than ever before, and if your home is kitted out with these installations, you could win big when selling.

Buyers are said to be offering up to 20% more on a home’s sale price if it has significant off-grid capabilities.

As load shedding persists, an increasing amount of home buyers are searching for properties that can avoid the effects of the rolling blackouts.

However, Adrian Goslett, chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says those that are forking out to have solar power installed, are probably not planning on selling in the near future, and so supply may not meet the demand.

“Adding solar power to your home is an expensive exercise. Those who do go to the trouble of having it installed are unlikely to sell anytime soon. This could mean that the demand for solar-powered homes might outstrip supply, which could push up the price of these homes.”

A recent snap survey of Just Property agents found that they would add, on average, 16% to their valuation of a home if it were not reliant on the municipal grid for water, electricity, and sewerage.

The poll found that:

  • For a property that is off-the-grid for water, the property value would increase by 9%, although one agent stated she would add 20% more to the valuation
  • A property that is not reliant on the municipal grid for electricity would see an average increase of 10% in the sales price. A few agents went as high as a 20% addition
  • If a property is off-the-grid for sewerage, the average increase the agents were prepared to offer was 7%, with more than half of the individual increases being 5%, and the rest between 10 and 20%

If a home was not reliant on the municipality for any of these services, the average increase in property value jumped to 16%, with most Just Property agents saying this would increase the home's value by 20%.

“Homeowners are looking for safety, security, and as little disruption to utility supply as possible. Off-grid homes are becoming more sought after,” says Lenie van Wyk, of Just Property Living.

As for the luxury housing market in Cape Town, Karryn Cartoulis of RE/MAX Living says one of the first questions buyers ask when they enter a property, is whether it has solar power.

“The solar panels actually become a feature on a home and clients don’t seem to be put off by their appearance as they are more interested in their performance. With constant load shedding and increasing electricity prices, it really is the only way to go – especially if you are working from home.”

She adds that most of her clients who purchase freehold homes consider adding solar energy to their new properties if they do not already have it installed.

Tanya Sakota of RE/MAX One in Johannesburg, says off-the-grid homes are also in high demand in her markets, along with those that offer other luxury features such as home automation, cinema lounges, and rotating garage floors.

Apart from being somewhat of a luxury and saving homeowners from the inconvenience of load shedding, Goslett says solar power is also a more environmentally friendly way for people to power their homes.

“We should all be striving towards implementing systems that can help us reduce our carbon footprint and live more sustainably. I would highly recommend going ahead with the addition if you are able to afford adding solar to the home. Not only could it add to the resale value of your home, but it could also help you live more sustainably.”

Given that Eskom’s problems are unlikely to be resolved any time soon, Andrea Tucker, director of MortgageMe , says the installation of solar will “almost certainly” enhance the resale value of a property or attractiveness to potential renters.

“It is therefore seen as a good investment by finance houses. This is, of course, based on the installation being professional, compliant, and adequate for the needs of the house and its occupants.”

Ross Mains-Sheard, co-founder and chief executive of South African residential solar energy company Versofy SOLAR, gives his top tips to consider before making the decision to go solar:

  • Talk to friends, neighbours and your community for recommendations of companies that they have used
  • Assess your home’s energy needs based on historical usage patterns
  • Assess your home’s capacity to support solar panels, taking into consideration surface area of the roof, orientation, pitch, and exposure to the sun
  • When you have completed these two exercises, you will be able to determine – in conjunction with a reputable solar installation company – the capacity of the solar panel and storage system you need to install
  • Ensure that your installer is accredited and uses only the best-quality materials
  • Get the necessary approvals from the municipality, homeowners’ association, and body corporate
  • Ensure your solar system is maintained regularly and that it is insured the same as any other household asset