It can be tempting for home owners to consider selling as-is when they are low on energy, time, or money for fix-up work such as re-roofing. One negative consequence of this is that prospective buyers may demand expensive discounts or even walk away from a potential sale.
Evidence of a failing roof may be as obvious as stains or soft spots on interior walls and ceilings, loose downspouts or even plants growing in gutters that haven't been cleaned in a long time. While a fix takes more effort than leaving it alone, the benefits of doing so may be enough to persuade sellers to eliminate the problem before buyers see the house.
Bargain Buyers & Doubtful Lenders
House hunters feel more confident about bidding on a property if it appears well tended inside and out. Roof problems are one kind of problem that can send them running. After all, they want to spend their spare budget on fun stuff -- like furniture -- not on basics they think the seller should fix.
Roof problems may also cause lenders to become doubtful about a property's value and deny loan approval for buyers. Ultimately, a shabby roof can keep a property on the market, which loses money for the seller who must continue paying any remaining mortgage as well as property and homeowner taxes.
Repairing or replacing a roof may help a seller save money by avoiding buyers looking for deep bargains and by speeding up the sales process. But what if roof problems aren't obvious? How does an owner decide whether to sell as is or line up a roofer?
Hiring a Roof Inspector
The first step in determining whether a roof will pass muster for an as-is sale is to hire a professional roof inspector.
A professional roof inspection can cost a few hundred dollars on average, but can vary based on who you choose and the type of roof you have. Roof slope is one factor that may increase the fee. The inspector determines wear and tear to the roof and how much longer it can last without replacement. They will verify whether repair is needed now or in the near future.
Roof inspections involve more than searching for damage to shingles, roof ridge lines, loose nails or aging of flat-roof membranes. An inspector likely will observe the following exterior factors:
- Chimneys and their mortar and flashing
- Rubber seals around vent pipes
- Gutters and downspouts
- Rafters that are sagging
- Fascia board (the gingerbread trim edging rooflines)
- Soffits (the flat underside of overhangs) and their vents
- Debris gathered in valleys where roof lines join
- Granules from shingles that flow through downspouts to splash blocks.
Inside the attic, an inspector may look for these signs of problems:
- Insulation that isn't safe or properly applied and doesn't have a sufficient R value
- Ventilation that is blocked
- Moisture and mold
The inspector may be able to estimate repair or replacement costs and certify whether the roof can last at least three more years for FHA loan approval. But when hiring any home inspector, including a roof specialist, sellers or buyers should seek someone who won't have stake in whether or not you choose to repair to avoid being persuaded to do something that isn't necessary. It's also helpful to ask for a written report of inspection results and proof of the errors and omissions liability insurance to protect customers against negligent work.
Seeking Repair & Replacement Estimates
Even if money is tight, homeowners should at least get estimates of what repair or replacement work will cost. A lot of costs depend on roof characteristics such as the degree of slope, type of shingles and neighborhood characteristics.
Steep roofs, such as on Tudor-style homes, are more difficult and dangerous to shingle. Consequently, their work is more expensive. Flat roofs that have minimal slope tend to be far less expensive unless their angle is insufficient for proper drainage. Then the slope may need to be improved.
Re-roofing with wood shakes may cost more than twice the price of an asphalt shingle roof. However, if the house is in a neighborhood of wood shake houses, it may be best to invest in repairing the existing shake roof if possible. Buyers interested in fitting in architecturally may be willing to pay for re-roofing later.
Metal and tile roofs are also more expensive than asphalt shingles. Slate is the most long lasting and expensive choice. It can cost up to ten times that of an asphalt shingle roof.
Re-roofing estimates will typically also include charges for shingle removal, underlayment, gutters, flashing, fascia and soffits.
Considering Local Market Conditions
All these details can be overwhelming. However, before making a decision between sell as-is and making major repairs, a homeowner needs to research the local real estate market. Knowing how fast properties are moving and whether homes are going for more or less than their listed prices is crucial in making a decision.
If a seller lives in a hot real estate market and has location on his or her side, investing in a new roof may be a good way to maximize gain. Nationwide, homeowners tend to recoup a large portion of the cost of a new roof. In an area where bidding wars are raising the roof on sales prices to unexpected heights, new shingles may be just the thing to make a house ready for a lightning-fast sale.
If you plan to sell your home and your roof has not been replaced in some time, ask your real estate agent about the possibility of re-roofing. They will be able to determine whether or not this repair can give you the competitive advantage your home needs to sell quickly and for top dollar.
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