As a real estate consultant, I should be recommending a home warranty to everyone that buys a home. But as a customer who has personally dealt with a home warranty, I will admit that negative past experiences made that difficult...at first. As it turns out, it is a really good idea to get a home warranty. Especially in cases where you have limited, or no information on the history of the home.
I love hold music just as much as the next person who has nothing better to do than listen to an even worse version of a Michael Bolton song (sorry Michael Bolton fans), but occasionally I want to speak to someone and get a few answers. The long hold times and customer service representatives with limited knowledge of the product or service you are calling about, is not exclusive to Home Warranty companies, but they are on the list.
Not too long ago, the hassle of home warranty hotlines and the service fees, were overwhelming my opinion of the industry as a whole. That opinion was negative. Fast forward to me the real estate consultant who was told early on in their career that home warranties were great and should be actively “suggested” to my buyer clients. Being an open-minded individual who wanted to make the most of his new career, I decided to look into the pros and cons of the home warranty. I pondered the cons... and decided to clear my head of negativity by visiting the fridge for a quick snack. Hmm... my ice cream is melted!...looks like the freezer needs repair and I need to make a trip to Dairy Queen. Should I Google refrigerator repair companies that are close, read reviews, make calls, leave voicemails? If I had a home warranty I would have one number to call, but would I be on hold for more easy listening songs than I can stay awake for? Tough call. That is a fictional story, but I do love Blizzards.
What if my home warranty company had a local rep that had a local number, and actually answered the phone and/or returned calls? That is one big point for the home warranty. If you are a buyer and your agent has a relationship with a home warranty person, not just a company, you are in luck. Every good service begins with a relationship that you can trust and rely on. The local representative is your personal link to the company. If you are looking on your own for a home warranty, be sure to look for local representation and talk to them before you make your choice. I believe this is an overlooked quality of the home warranty. You have one number to call, they will take care of you and make sure your problem is addressed. If the service line does not pickup in a timely manner, you will also have a local relationship that you can call as well. They are vested in your service because their local business depends on over-satisfied customers.
The other big benefit is a bit more obvious. When you are buying a home you are most likely getting it with limited historical information. Sure you will have your professional inspection, maybe the seller will provide you with their knowledge of the home, and of course you have time to ask questions and research everything you can think of. That should make you confident in your decision to pursue a home... but what if? It feels good to be protected if the what if situation, is. The cost savings can be significant if a large item (a/c, heater etc.) goes out and has a major repair or replacement needed. For the smaller items, I would refer back to the one phone number to call for a big stress benefit, if not also a financial benefit.
Oh by the way, you can always negotiate and ask the seller to pay for the first year of a warranty! At least in our market it is fairly common, and I really believe that most sellers want the buyer to feel comfortable about purchasing their home, so it works well as a soft negotiating tool. The home warranty is a little piece of mind that can go a long way and you may end up asking yourself, “How am I supposed to live without you, my home warranty?” Your welcome Michael Bolton fans.