U of M Solar House Has No Buyers

MPR recently reported that University of Minnesota students have spent months trying to sell their prize-winning solar-powered house. They're having trouble finding a buyer for the 550 square-foot house.

As part of its "Sustainable Shelter" exhibit, the house is on display across the street from the Bell Museum in Minneapolis. The house is shaped like a typical Minnesota family home, but the roof is covered in solar panels.

The house placed fifth internationally in the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon last year. Although building costs reached $1 million, including a $100,000 Department of Energy grant and many donations, the house's market value has been set at $550,000 based on the cost of materials and labor.

Project coordinators put the home up for auction at a $200,000 minimum bid in the spring -- slightly higher than the median value of a single-family home in the metro area at about $185,000.

Though the price tag is reasonable for its quality, the house has sat untouched in the market since spring. The weak housing market is partly to blame. Secondly, "Location, location, location! is the soul of the real estate market, yet this solar house doesn't have one. Yet another deterrent is that once a location is found, the house's five parts requires self-assembly.

About $20,000 in moving expenses are already included in the purchase price.

The Bell exhibit opened Oct. 16 and will run until May 15.

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