Entering into business with a construction contractor is often much more complicated than what many people presume. Besides disagreements between project owners and contractors over the quality of work performed, most other conflicts between these two parties come down to money. A relatively new type of financing for some home improvements, PACE, is causing some headaches for homeowners in Florida.
What is PACE Financing?
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing is a unique financing structure that allows homeowners and other property owners to pay for renovations as an extra line item on their property taxes. This financing is technically not a loan; the capital needed for each PACE project is paid upfront to the contractor, arranged for by organizations like Ygrene.
Ygrene enlists the help of contractors to sell projects paid for through PACE financing. A common type of home improvement project that uses PACE financing is solar panel installation. Salespeople inform homeowners of the benefits of PACE financing, including the ability to transfer the debt to buyers if they sell the property, delay payment for up to 12 months (or whenever the next set of property taxes is due), and save money through lower energy bills.
Plenty of homeowners have realized great benefits through PACE financing. Conversely, though, many feel they have been duped by Ygrene.
The primary complaint is that consumers were not informed that receiving a project through PACE financing means a first-priority lien will be placed on their home until the project has been fully paid off. In other words, homeowners may experience foreclosure if they fall behind on their bills that coincide with property taxes. What’s more is that homeowners are forced to pay their PACE financing obligations in the event of a forced sale; that money cannot even go toward the property’s mortgage.
If a sale is not forced through foreclosure, homeowners might not ever be able to sell their property. Many mortgage lenders will not lend to buyers who wish to purchase a property with a first-priority PACE lien. Complicating matters is the fact that contractors are often awarded finder’s fees for selling PACE projects, presenting a potential conflict of interest.
Understand Your Contractor’s Terms
The most important tool for homeowners and consumers before beginning a home improvement project is information. It is important to understand exactly how you will be billed, the interest rate, and any liens that will be placed on the property. Solar panels are attractive to homeowners and entrepreneurs due to decreased energy costs, but the PACE financing often attached to such projects can be troublesome.
In the event of a dispute with your contractor, your greatest tool as a homeowner is an experienced Florida construction attorney. The earlier you consult a trusted firm like Florida Construction Law Group, the better your chances of outright prevailing in your case. In any situation, our team will work tirelessly to resolve your dispute as efficiently as you’d like. Call us at (305) 227-4030 to discuss your legal needs today.