Australian company opens solar business

By Christine Davis:

The Cochranes and Super Green Solutions tie into two recent North County Current series: our stories on international buyers and real estate as well as an article on solar energy, with more to come.

Sean and Clare Cochrane recently moved  to Palm Beach County from  Australia, buying a house and opening a business, Super Green Solutions, 3583 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.

Sean Cochrane opens Super Green Solutions.

The home-buying process for international buyers

Here’s their take on real estate: Buying property in America was “exceptionally difficult,” Sean Cochrane said. “Although I have several businesses and good credit scores at home, it means nothing here.

“We brought some money to put into a bank account, and even though we had cash, we couldn’t get a credit card.

“I’ve had an American Express card since 1989. We begged and pleaded to get it commuted here to build a little credit, but American banks won’t look at Australian banks or credit.”

So, they started building credit little by little – They didn’t want to finance a car, but they did and that was a start. But cash, car and a business didn’t help when it came to finding financing for a home.

“When we went to buy a house, the banks wouldn’t look at us, They referred us to Anders Johncke, (mortgage loan originator with Group One in Jupiter) and he connected us with a company that would finance us. It required a 40-percent down payment, which we did. We pay a higher interest rate and we don’t get the tax deductions or the homestead exemption. For them, it’s considered a secondary home, although it’s my primary home. I just have to accept it.”

The process of finding the actual  home was not as hard. The Internet was helpful, and the Cochranes received a realtor referral from a colleague. She worked with them while they were still in Australia to find a seven-month rental in Harbour Isles, and they ended up finding a home nearby.

However,  there was a learning curve. The concept of working with just one realtor was foreign to them. “We don’t do that in Australia. I believe its better to work with a couple of people.”

And, he learned, talking to three or four banks hurt their credit score. “Nobody told us that,” he said.

However, they did manage to get through the process, and, as of this summer, the Cochranes  were waiting for their deal to close on a home.

Cochrane opens new solar business in Palm Beach Gardens

Starting a business, though, was easy, except for the permitting. “We nearly gave up because we couldn’t get the permits for drywall and it took us three-and-a-half months to open the store.”

However, the store is now open for business.

Super Green Solutions supplies and installs solar and wind products. It also offers free energy assessments. “We are energy efficiency specialists. We help you create or save power.” The company is an offshoot of a franchising company with 11 locations under the name Allsafe Energy Efficient Products in Australia.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years. They call me the Practical Greenie. Instead of chaining myself to a tree, I try to conserve. There’s so much sun, why not conserve our resources?”

Solar tips from Super Green Solutions

Changing out the hot water heater is a good start, he said.

“Electric water heaters cost an average family $550 to $750 a year to run. $750 to heat our water. That’s criminal and how many homes do that? You can change that number to $0.

His company will install solar, hybrid electric and tankless heaters.

A layer of insulation is not expensive and there are tax credits and rebates. “We can offer advice about this,” he said.

Changing out lighting, of course, is an easy energy savings. “An incandescent light can cost $15 to $20 to run. LEDs use around 10 percent of what incandescent lights use and they last 30 times longer,” he said.

For the big ticket items, solar panels. right now, there’s the 30 percent tax credit as well as the FPL rebates.

“You can’t burn a lump of coal twice, but the sun and wind are there to create energy everyday.”

Related stories:

Foreign Nationals Buy Homes In Florida

At Home In England

An Island Escape

Faraway Dreams: Italian Castles

Going Solar with the O’Mahoneys

copr 2011 Christine Davis

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