Home warranties have become a common part of the majority of real estate transactions. It is basically an insurance policy that covers the home system components and some of the appliances. My most simple description is that if you think about items that have energy or movement in them, it is more likely to be part of the policy. Each policy is slightly different, so please consult the companies who offer them, but what is usually covered are furnace, water heater, plumbing and electric elements. What isn’t covered are stationary elements like the roof, the foundation, the walls.
When policies are purchased, they are good for one full year from the date of purchase and can then be annually renewed thereafter. I have twice had clients who received the policy when they purchased their home and then kept it the entire time they owned the house.
There are numerous companies who offer these policies. I am going to tell you about the three that I see most used in our area.
American Home Sheild is the big boy in this field. They were the first company I heard of and they do a big percentage of the plans that are sold. They have 3 plans: Esssential, Plus, and Complete. The numbers I am going to give you here are as of this day, and do not include quite a few options that could be added on. It is based upon a home that is single family, in Oregon, 10+ years of age (newer homes are slightly less expensive) and does not include air conditioning (which could be added on).
The Essential Plan does not cover any appliances. It does cover the furnace, water heater, plumbing and electric. It costs $380. The Plus plan covers the appliances, including the refrigerator and the washer and dryer, and it costs $510. The complete plan adds to the coverage things like the garage door opener, the door bell, and ceiling fans. It costs $565.
To use the policy you simply call an 800 number to make a claim. American Home Shield contracts locally and sends a technician to your home. There is a $75 charge for each service call.
It is possible to place the policy on the home at the time it is listed for sale. I highly recommend this. It is not paid for until the house is sold. If the house is never sold then there is no charge for the coverage unless the policy is used and that charge is just $60. So it is really affordable and the policy could potentially be used to deal with home inspection issues.
First American Home Buyer Protection Corporation is another well known company. They have two plans: Basic and Value+. Basic covers the home systems including the dishwasher and the range, but no refrigerator or washer/dryer. It costs $290. The Value+ plan adds air conditioning and it costs $420. Other items can be added to this plan, as it can be added to the other two, such as septic systems, swimming pools, the washer/dryer and the refrigerator. The service call to make a claim is $60. First American Home Buyer Protection also offers 180 days of coverage to the seller when the house is listed for sale at no charge, unless the policy is used and then the house is not sold, then there is a charge of $60.
Last I will mention Fidelity National Home Warranty They offer two plans: Standard and Comprehensive. The Standard plan does not include air conditioning and it costs $260. The Comprehensive plan does include the air conditioning and it costs $360. Both plans cover the dishwasher and the range, but neither cover the washer, dryer or refrigerator, which can be added on for an additional charge. The service call to make a claim is $65. Coverage for the seller at the time the house is listed for sale is available at no charge.
I think it’s pretty easy to see why purchasing one of these policies makes sense. For someone selling it may help cover repair issues and it certainly helps the buyer have a better comfort level with the home. For buyers, who usually spend most of their money on the down payment and the closing costs, it helps them to feel like they have a financial cushion for the first year that they will own the home.
Who pays for the policy? It’s negotiated between the buyer and the seller. I think it depends a lot on how long the house has been on the market without an offer, and also on how close to the asking price the buyer is offering.
I want to encourage you to do your research before you make or receive an offer. Figure out which plan you like and make sure it covers the elements that are of concern to you.
I am not an expert on these policies. I want to encourage you to contact these companies yourself to get exact information. Here is the contact info:
American Home Shield, 866-406-0440, www.ahs.com
Do not hesitate to get in touch with Linda, Whitney, or myself, if you have any questions about real estate!