Selling a home with an old roof?

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Real Estate

Selling a home with an old roof?  Deal with it now, or deal with it later, either way, you’re going to have to deal with it.

Is your roof 15 years old or older?  If so, you may run into some obstacles when it comes time to sell your home.  In my experience, the age of a home’s roof is the number one concern of potential buyers.  Even if it is a “25-year” shingle roof, at 15 years it becomes a concern to many buyers as well as the inspectors they hire.  If an inspector knows that the roof is over 15 years old, they will include wording in their report suggesting that the roof is nearing the end of its lifespan.  They will do this regardless of whether or not any issues were spotted.  They will then recommend a licensed roofer for further inspection because they don’t want to take on the liability of any underlying problems an older roof might present.  Just seeing those words “nearing the end of its lifespan” is enough to scare a lot of buyers away, or for the ones that do stick around, they either want a new roof or a credit from the seller.

So what do you do if you are getting ready to sell your home and you have an old(er) roof?  You can’t ignore the fact, after all, you have to disclose the known age on the seller’s disclosure prior to listing it.  The answer is?  It depends because there are many variables that could come into play.  For instance, are there any known issues, such as leaks?  If so, is this something that can be claimed on your homeowner's insurance?  How soon do you need to sell? 

If you are months away from needing to sell your home, you may want to have a roofer inspect the roof for recent damages from wind or hail, and yes, this includes those companies that go door to door offering free roof inspections, so don’t be so quick to kick them off your property just yet.  In fact, those companies are the ones most likely to get your insurance company to pay for a new roof if they do indeed find wind or hail damage.  Of course, the insurance company will send their own adjuster out to verify the claim, but hey, you may just qualify for a new roof and it will be a non-issue when the day comes to sell.

What if the insurance company denies the claim or the roofer couldn’t put in a claim, to begin with?  Well then you have a choice, you can either pay out of pocket and have a new roof replaced in time for the sale, or you can wait and see what happens with the inspection once you are under contract.  The problem with the latter is that some buyers won’t even put in an offer, while others may just walk away when they get the inspection report because they don’t want to deal with it, or they may ask for repairs, and/or credits, both of which may potentially push a closing to a later date.  Sometimes this even gives them ammo to renegotiate the price down from what was originally agreed upon.

In cases where you don’t have much of a choice due to timing, for whatever reason, to anticipate selling, ie. job relocation, your best option is going to be pro-actively anticipating some sort of negotiations involving the roof post-inspection and pricing the home with that in mind.

In closing, the earlier you figure out the roof poses a potential problem due to age, the better.  You will have more options to deal with the potential problem, and it could save you a lot of headaches down the road.


By Rob OConnor