Published: February 22, 2017
If you’re going to get one, here’s how to use it correctly
If you’re in the process of buying a home, selling a home or will be in the near future, one of the costs you’re likely considering is a home warranty. But, as this is an optional expense, you have to decide if it will really be worth it to you.
“Home warranties [typically] cost between $300 and $700 a year and have a service call fee that ranges from $60 to $100, depending on the company,” Pam Maycumber of Keller Williams Realty Advantage III in Orlando, Florida.
What is a home warranty?
“A home warranty will repair or replace…covered systems and appliances when they break down from normal wear and tear,” Pam said. “Most often, home warranties cover the mechanical components of these appliances.”
Pam pointed out that these warranties are often part of a real estate transaction, but can be purchased by a homeowner at any time. However, consider the expense of that repair item. Whether it comes at the seller cost or the buyer cost having a home warranty is a terrific tool for peace of mind, and a real cost savings. Speaking from personal experience, Allyn and Pam Maycumber, point out hundreds of satisfied customers that have had a wide range of maintenance items covered by a home warranty.
Remember, if you are selling your home you can cover yourself during the listings time period AND it will cover the new home buyer for one year after their closing. Our customer in the Lake Nona area of Orlando, Florida had their home on the market #for sale. One of the air conditioning units failed, and then was replaced by the home warranty company. This covered nearly $4,000 in expenses, and when the prospective buyer knew it was a brand new unit it was a tremendous plus and allowed the seller to focus on more cosmetic touch ups to enhance the property. It was a “win WIN” situation.
For a “buyer to renew or for a homeowner to purchase their own warranty is a total waste of money,” Adriana Mollica, a Hello for Teles Properties in Beverly Hills, California, said. However, she added that it depends on the situation, as it may be “a great idea for a seller to purchase [a warranty] for a buyer when selling their property” as an added feature to sell their home.
On the flip side these warranties can be great — and save you money — when they’re used correctly.
“As long as you hold up your end of the home warranty contract by making sure your systems and appliances are clean and taken care of, when they fail from normal wear and tear, a home warranty will cover the repairs and replacements,” said Chelsea of Fidelity Title. “Even if a home warranty doesn’t cover all parts of the system or appliance that needs to be replaced, the out-of-pocket costs that a homeowner pays versus what they would pay out of pocket without a home warranty translates to huge cost savings.”
Pam relayed, for those who purchase a newly built home with new appliances, “getting a home warranty probably doesn’t make much sense as long as they are already covered under a builder warranty. She said that a “home warranty makes the most sense when you have moved into a new home and the systems and appliances have been used previously” or when you’ve had your own items for two or more years.
“Before you buy a home warranty…make sure to read through the contract,” Pam advised. “Home warranties will explain in detail which parts of their systems and appliances they cover and which they don’t within their contract. In order to get value out of a home warranty it’s vital to know and understand what the plan covers and doesn’t cover.”
Deciding what you want the warranty for
According to Allyn Maycumber, a broker associate for Keller Williams Realty Advantage III in Orlando, Florida, it’s all about perspective. If you’re looking to get a warranty that will land you brand new items if yours break, you may be severely disappointed. But if you’re using it as a safety net, you may find comfort in your warranty.
“I look at home warranties as a way to buy insurance [so] that you have time to rebuild your emergency fund after purchasing your home,” Allyn said. “It can give you peace of mind that you will have heat all winter and hot showers for a year. But it is rare that a homeowner hits the jackpot and gets a new furnace from it, although I’ve seen that. If you do get a new furnace, it is going to be similar to the old one in terms of efficiency, so that won’t save you money either.”
Paying for home repairs
Unexpected home repairs can certainly do big damage to your bank account — which is one of the reasons it’s important to regularly feed that emergency fund. If you’re faced with a pressing expense, a balance-transfer credit card, low-interest personal loan or home equity line of credit could help you cover costs (and possibly spare you some interest.