If you’re in the process of, or considering buying or selling a home, one of the most expensive mistakes you can make is failing to properly assess the condition of the roof. Not only is this a costly mistake in terms of dollars, but it can also cause delays or even cancellations of the real estate transaction. In order to avoid making this mistake yourself, read on to find out why the roof matters when buying or selling a home.
Isn’t The Roof Assessed During the Home Inspection?
You may be thinking, isn’t the roof assessed during the home inspection? While this can be true in some cases, it is not true of every home inspection. Depending on when the home inspection occurs, it may be physically impossible to perform a roof inspection. For instance, a roof inspection cannot be performed when snow is present due to snow coverage limiting the ability to actually see the roof. (As well as it being terribly unsafe to walk on a snowy roof).
Additionally, Home Inspectors often have exclusions in their contracts that do not require them to physically get on the roof, which is a necessity to perform a quality inspection, or in some cases it may exclude the roof inspection altogether. Here are some common exclusions you may find in a Home Inspection report
The inspector is NOT required to determine:
- The condition of systems and components that are not readily accessible.
- The remaining life expectancy of systems and components.
- The strength, adequacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of systems and components.
- The causes of conditions and deficiencies.
- Methods, materials, and costs of corrections.
- Compliance of systems and components with past and present requirements and guidelines.
As it is not unreasonable to conclude that the roof is not readily accessible, the very first exclusion can warrant the roof being skipped during the home inspection. Exclusions 2-6 as noted above lead us to another important factor when considering whether a general home inspection is adequate for assessing the condition of the roof.
General Home Inspections vs Specialized Inspections
General Home Inspection (Roof)
While home inspections provide a general overview of the condition of the home, they do not specialize in any one aspect. In other words, even if a roof inspection is completed, you will likely lack important information needed to make an educated decision on what the best course of action is.
For example, if the roof is currently watertight but nearing the end of its life cycle, a home inspection will not necessarily inform you that a $15,000 replacement is only 1-2 years away. If the roof is currently damaged, a home inspection will not provide thorough information on the source of the damage, which is necessary to know whether a repair is adequate, if a replacement is required, or if the replacement is eligible for insurance coverage. The difference in cost between these 3 options can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the type of roof.
Roof Inspection from A Quality Roofing Company
On the other hand, a quality roof inspection will provide you with all the information you need to determine the best course of action, as well as assistance throughout the entire process. In contrast to a general home inspection, which may not even include the roof, a roof inspection from a quality roofing company will provide detailed information and photos on the condition of items such as:
- Roof penetrations (vents, caps, chimneys, etc.)
- Satellites & antennae
- Flashing (step flashing, L-flashing, drip edge, etc.)
- Gutters & downspouts
Additionally, if apparent from an initial inspection, it will provide you with information on the source of the damage, whether it meets current code requirements, and a recommended course of action to address the issue. All this information is critical in avoiding unexpected costs, as something as simple as the type of roof decking can cost thousands of dollars if it does not meet current code requirements. This level of information is only going to be available from a legitimate roof inspection, from a qualified roofing company.
*Note – While items that do not meet current code requirements will not require immediate action, they will need to meet all code requirements upon replacement. Additionally, if items were knowingly installed in violation of current code requirements, the buyer could incur the fees of those violations if not addressed prior to the sale.
Roofing Issues Specific to the Buyer and Seller
Make no mistake that issues in regards to the roof can negatively affect both the buyer and the seller. Below we’ve detailed a few common issues that we have encountered in regards to each party.
When you are looking to purchase a property, you will often have a specific budget in mind based on your savings and income. However, if unforeseen expenses arise after the sale is complete, you will be on the hook for every penny of the total cost. Can you afford an additional $7,500, $15,000, $30,000 above your original budget? Unfortunately, this is the reality for some homeowners who fail to properly assess their total expenses. While these costs could have been covered by the seller, or negotiated between both parties, once the sale is final, it is the buyer’s responsibility.
Inability to get the Roof Insured
As a homeowner, we cannot recommend enough the importance of quality roof insurance. This is the difference between paying a deductible as low as $1,000 or paying for the entire replacement cost. However, not all roofs are insurable. If you purchase a home with a roof that has incurred significant damage, or if the roof is nearing the end of its life cycle, most insurance companies will refuse to insure the roof until it is replaced. In this case, you will have no choice but to pay the entire expense for replacement out of pocket.
Expensive Damage Beyond the Roof
The main function of a roof (and all exterior elements of a home) is to prevent water from entering your home. If the roof is damaged and allowing water infiltration, the damage is likely not just limited to the roof. A leaky roof can cause all sorts of expensive damage to the roof decking, structural components, insulation, drywall, etc., and these are not always easy to spot without a thorough inspection of the attic and interior. Unless you are aware that the roof is damaged, and likely leaking, you will not even be aware that this level of damage is a possibility until you own the home and all the costs that come with it.
Financing Difficulties (loss of potential buyers)
In competitive markets, cash offers can be a frequent occurrence, however, in most cases potential buyers will need to secure financing prior to purchase. If the roof is in a condition that requires replacement, it can affect the buyer’s ability to secure financing for the property. Many lenders require that the property meet certain standards before approving a loan. Additionally, financing can become an issue if the appraisal is significantly lower than the asking price due to the condition of the roof. In these cases, the roof can prove to be the sole reason for losing a host of prospective buyers.
Delay of the Sale
If the roof is noted to be in poor condition during a home inspection, or even if you encounter a serious buyer with a sharp eye, the roof can become a point of contention that delays the sale. This can culminate in a few different ways. For instance, the buyer may request that the roof be replaced prior to the sale. Depending on weather conditions, or if the replacement requires an insurance claim to be filed, it can sometimes take weeks before a replacement is possible.
If the buyer decides they can live without an immediate replacement but they would like to be compensated for the cost of the roof, negotiations will likely take place, which can take time if both parties cannot readily come to an agreement. An inspection from a qualified roofing company will also need to be performed in order to put a price on the replacement.
A real estate purchase is also the biggest purchase of most people’s lives, and one in which they want to be completely confident. A roof that requires replacement can raise concerns that will need to be addressed before the buyer is willing to move forward with the purchase.
Paying for Replacement vs Paying Your Deductible
When you are in the midst of trying to close a sale on your home, many sellers do not take the time to research all their available options. For the sake of a timely closing, we have seen many sellers simply credit the total cost of the roof replacement, but in some cases this can result in an unnecessary loss of tens of thousands of dollars. If the roof qualifies for an insurance claim, the total the seller would need to pay is the cost of their insurance deductible, but this option is often overlooked in their rush to close. If you, as the seller, are aware that the roof may need to be replaced, you can work with a qualified roofing company ahead of time that will assist you in the insurance claims process.
All of these transaction examples are why we created our Brahma Realtor Program. Making it super easy for you, as a homeowner and/or buyer, as well as your agent to protect you and your investment.
What If My Roof Has No Damage?
Even if your roof is free of damage, a quality roof inspection prior to listing can still be a huge benefit. Most roof inspections from respectable roofing companies are free of charge, and in the case of companies such as Brahma Roofing and Construction, we are able to provide a certificate proving that the roof has been recently inspected and is free of damage. This certificate can be used in your listing documents and shown to prospective buyers to put their mind at ease and create a smoother real estate transaction.
The roof is a major consideration when buying or selling a home that is often overlooked until the last possible moment. By being aware of its importance before entering into an agreement, you can save yourself a whole lot of time, money, and headaches, and make the process of buying or selling your home that much simpler. If you are a Real Estate Agent, or a person in the process of buying or selling a property, whether you believe your roof to be in need of replacement or not, consider contacting Brama Roofing and Construction to put your mind at ease and simplify your sale.