You’ve found a great house. It has every feature you want, and it’s in a great neighborhood. The only issue is the inspector found damage to the roof.
Should you buy this home anyway? What if the home isn’t quite the house of your dreams and has damage on the roof?
There are several issues here, actually. First, roof damage can be very expensive to repair. It can cost as much as to $30,000, depending on the nature of the damage and the size of the roof.
The cost also depends on the type of damage. A few missing shingles from a storm is a relatively minor repair, though it’s visible. But a poorly maintained roof can result in dry rot and structural damage to the home. If rain or moisture has seeped in through the roof, you can be looking at thousands of dollars and months of construction work.
Second, if you’re purchasing the home with a mortgage, the lender may need to get involved. For a large repair or replacement that can affect the home’s structure, many lenders will make repair a precondition of final loan approval. Many home insurance companies also will not write a policy for a building with a damaged roof. Effectively, if the lender or insurance company won’t move forward, you may not be able to move forward.
You may be able to negotiate with the seller about roof damage. Most sellers realize that buyers can be very hesitant to purchase a home with major damage – and roof damage is major damage, especially during the winter. Savvy sellers should realize that roof damage can kill a sale. Be prepared to walk away if the seller won’t negotiate. It’s reasonable to expect the seller to make a major repair before a sale.
As a result, you may be able to negotiate with the seller. Ask him to pay for repairing the roof. He can either do this outright, before the sale goes through, or by lowering the price of the property to match the estimated cost of repairing the roof. If you elect the latter method, be sure to factor in construction cost overruns, as they happen frequently.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of buying a home with roof damage.
1. You have a house. If you really love the house and neighborhood, it can be worth it to you to buy a property with roof damage, especially if you can negotiate the price. One way or the other, you have the house. Be sure, though, that you aren’t blind to potential structural damage because of your desire to have the house. If you’re using the seller’s inspector, it may be worth it to get a second opinion from your own inspector.
2. You’ll have a new roof. Roofs have a varying lifespan depending on the material they’re made of, so if you’re planning on making this house your forever home, choosing the material will be in your best interest. According to roofing contractor Huber and Associates, which operates throughout the South, one of the best bets for a long-lasting roof is copper, which can last for 50 to 100 years, depending on maintenance. Other options include asphalt, slate, metal and wood shingles, among many additional varieties. If you can negotiate so the seller pays the cost to replace the roof, or lowers the home price by the estimated cost, you can end up with a good deal.
3. It can be advantageous in a rising housing market. Part of the equation needs to be the expected real estate market conditions in your area. Do some research about housing price trends. If the real estate market is strong and expected to continue to be so, a house with a new roof can be a good deal for you, as you will gain home equity in a rising market.
1. You may pay more for maintenance. A seller who has allowed roof damage to a home may be careless with other household maintenance chores. Roofs should be inspected every six months for damage. Repairs should be done immediately, because of the danger of structural damage due to leaks. An owner who hasn’t done this may be careless. Again, have the home inspected thoroughly before you purchase so you have a clear sense of any repairs or maintenance needed.
2. Major construction can cost more than anticipated. All major construction jobs tend to make more time and be more expensive than originally quoted. If you negotiate the house price down to accommodate the price of roof repair and then move in, you may end up paying more than you negotiated.
3. The seller may not negotiate. The seller may insist on selling the home as is. This is rare, but it may occur if the seller needs the money from the house or if the housing market is highly competitive. In a hot market, the seller may assume that someone will purchase the house without negotiating the price for repair of the roof, even if you don’t. As a result, you may lose the house if you negotiate. Be prepared.
The decision to purchase a house with existing roof damage depends on the home, the type of damage and the housing market. Weigh your options carefully, and consider the pros and cons.