Understanding Home Warranties

At Hill Property Inspections LLC, we proudly provide all of our home inspection clients with a free, zero deductible 90-day home warranty through a separate company called Residential Warranty Services (RWS). The warranty is good for 90 days from the date of inspection, or 22 days after closing on the property – whichever comes later. We automatically enroll all of our home inspection clients in the warranty, so they do not have to do any tedious paperwork at all. Home inspectors nationwide have started offering similar warranties as a bonus to valued clients in order to provide exceptional customer service and much needed protection.

Recently, I was surprised when a real estate agent told me, “All the other home inspectors I deal with guarantee their work just like you, so your warranty is no different and is not a big selling point.” Upon hearing this, I realized that the agent didn’t understand what a home warranty actually is (since other home inspectors nearby aren’t offering warranties and home inspection companies are legally prohibited from offering them); and if a realtor doesn’t understand the value of this benefit, ordinary home buyers definitely can’t be expected to understand! So, I’d like to take a brief moment to describe home warranties and the importance of hiring a home inspection company that provides them through a partner company so you know you are getting the protection you deserve!

First, a “guarantee” is not at all the same thing as a warranty. Of course, all of us who provide inspection services stand by, and therefore “guarantee,” the findings in our inspection reports. After all, we are legally liable for what we do or do not report at the time of inspection, so our expert opinion is, by nature, “guaranteed.” Standing by our findings, though, does not at all guarantee repair or replacement of any defective components of the inspected property. It simply means that we are confident in our ability to find and recognize defects in a home. There are many safeguards in place to protect inspectors from having to pay to repair defects since any component of a home can unexpectedly fail at any time. No home buyer would expect a home inspector to pay for the repair or replacement of a defective component that was functioning properly at the time of their inspection but developed a problem later.

So what, exactly, is a home warranty? A home warranty is a paid contract that provides additional protection to YOU, the home buyer. Like other warranties, it covers the repair or replacement of components of the home that become defective within a specified timeframe. We’ve all purchased warranties for different items, so most people understand this basic concept. Since warranties must be paid for, someone has to foot the bill; and at HPI we pay for the warranty on behalf of our clients as a courtesy and a gesture of appreciation for their business.

Not everything is protected, or “covered,” by the home warranty, though. The warranty we provide at HPI through RWS does not cover anything listed as a defect in our inspection report since the client knows about the issue(s) before purchasing the property. You could think of these things in insurance terms as “pre-existing conditions.” It also doesn’t cover certain appliances not listed in the warranty or any appliance over ten years old, since they have outlived their normal life expectancy by that point. Nearly everything else – structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC, and so forth – is covered and will be corrected by a qualified contractor, completely free of charge, within 72 hours of filing a claim.

Many people opt to purchase an even more comprehensive and longer lasting home warranty. These warranties cover more items and are typically in effect for at least a year, if not longer. If you are selling a home and dealing with a reputable real estate agency, there is a chance you may be covered by the agency during the listing period with a seller’s warranty to protect you in case anything goes wrong while you’re attempting to sell your home. This point raises the importance of doing your research when deciding what agency to use and the value they offer when you’re planning to sell your home. In any case (whether buying or selling), it is wise to be sure that you have a warranty in place to protect your investment.

Home warranties with longer terms often come with a fairly high price tag, as you might imagine. They are typically several hundred dollars, at minimum. If you hire a home inspector who offers a free short-term home warranty through a partner company like we do, you at least have added protection for some length of time and will likely get the warranty without having to pay a dime or do a bit of paperwork. The fact that home warranties are quite costly also tells you how likely it is that something may go wrong and that you may need the protection. Often times, homeowners encounter problems shortly after moving into a new home, so a 90-day home warranty can certainly be a major blessing.

As you can see, all services are NOT created equal. A guarantee of the findings on a home inspection report won’t help you one bit if and when you need an item in your new home repaired or replaced. A free home warranty, on the other hand, provides you with just that, giving you added peace of mind at a stressful time when you’re making a huge, long-term investment. The old phrase “put your money where your mouth is” is something that we inspectors who provide home warranties to our clients actually DO!

Before hiring a home inspector, ask if he or she provides a free home warranty through another company. If you choose to not spend a good amount of money on a longer term home warranty, this is especially important to give you the protection you need upon first taking possession of your new home. Understand that no home inspection company offers an actual warranty and that their “guaranteed” statements are simply findings that the expert inspector had reported at the exact time of inspection and is willing to stand by despite the fact that anything could go wrong with the home at any time.

*To visit our main website, go to http://www.hillinspections.com

Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Professional Inspector (CPI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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