Home warranty: Useful or waste of money?
Is a home warranty useful or a waste of money? When I was practicing real estate in Idaho no one ever spoke of them but here in Lake Tahoe they seem to be a normal negotiable tool in a contract.
Locally it is very typical for a buyer to ask the seller to pay for it. However, like everything in real estate, it is a negotiable item. On average they cost $500-$600 depending on what the homeowner or purchaser wants to include: options for coverage for example are for the refrigerator, washer/dryer and if there is a hot tub on the property.
Most warranties only last for 12 months but can be easily renewed by the new owner to guarantee future protection. Your Realtor should try and negotiate a home warranty for you when you purchase a home or condo.
For this story I interviewed our local Old Republic Home Protection representative, Gloria Caplinger.
Q: Do you feel that home warranties are always worth the cost?
A: Absolutely! Home warranties offer budget protection from the high cost of unexpected household breakdowns.
Q: What plan do you think is the most beneficial to purchase for a buyer?
A: Our plans include standard, ultimate, and platinum protection. I recommend the platinum protection plan because it’s our most comprehensive coverage available. No two homes are exactly alike, and neither are our home warranties. Our plans can be custom fit to meet the needs of many different homeowners, and each plan has its own coverage and price point.
Q: Do you also recommend them for brand new construction?
A: Although we don’t cover everything a developer is required to provide (i.e., structural defects, etc.), we do have plans that are available on new construction for years 1-4 or 2-5 that cover the systems and appliances inside the home.
Q: Are they common in all states?
A: ORHP offers home warranties in 22 states across the nation. My territory is Northern Nevada, and crosses into the Lake Tahoe area of California.
Q: What don’t home warranties cover?
A: Home warranties are designed to offset some of the expenses associated with a covered home system or appliance repair. Most do not cover damage caused by people, pests, or pets; items that are not working properly on the effective date of coverage; pre-existing conditions; improper repairs/installation; acts of nature; secondary damage; routine maintenance/cleaning; and most structural items, including windows and doors.
ORHP does exactly what our plan says we do, so please always read your plan for coverage details.
Q: What is the most common thing covered by a home warranty?
A: The most common service requests we get are for plumbing stoppages and HVAC(heating, ventilation and air conditioner). Home warranties cover heating, plumbing, and electrical systems, as well as most built-in appliances.
Q: What does a typical service fee cost?
A: Our service fees, called Trade Call Fees, are between $65 and $75 in this area depending on the chosen plan.
Q: How long does it take for service?
A: We accept service requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Under normal circumstances, our service effort is initiated within 48 hours. After a plan holder places a service request, ORHP dispatches a service provider from our independent network. The service provider contacts the plan holder to schedule a convenient appointment. When they arrive, the service provider will diagnose the issue, confirm coverage, and once authorized, starts the process to repair/replace the covered item. In some cases, the service provider may need to order parts, resulting in additional time before the covered repair/replacement is completed.
Jennifer Fortune is a Realtor for Chase International South Tahoe Realty. Fellow Realtors, if you have ideas for stories or would like to share a story, please contact Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org.