Should I raise the roof before buying the house?
November 29, 2011 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I am buying a house and the roof is questionable. There were missing tabs all over. A roofer came out and did minimal repairs at the current owners' expense but he says the roof has "2 to 5 years" left, maybe, depending on weather (we live in the midwest). Would it be reasonable to ask for a reroofing allowance in purchasing this house?

You are not my (realtor, lawyer, roofer, contractor, etc) but I was wondering if anyone had gone through this.

The house is 16 years old, so I'm not sure if a new roof on the house in the next 2 years would just be expected when buying it, but the roofer estimates an approximate cost of $10,000 for putting a new roof on the house.

I feel like since we are paying top dollar for the house (the seller barely negotiated at all) it would be right to give us a roofing allowance; if I knew the cost of the house was $10k above what we agreed to I would not have bought the house. More, that's $10k out of pocket in a couple years, not $10k that can be paid off at a low 4% over the next 30 years.

But am I being unreasonable in this? This is my first time buying a house that isn't new construction so I don't know what's par for the course. My realtor is telling me to just accept it, but she has a vested interest because she's making 6% off this deal (plus another 6% selling my current house), so I really don't trust her opinions to not be in her own self interest.
posted by arniec to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
You're not being unreasonable at all. You're buying a house that barely has a roof. Get the seller to throw in an allowance or walk away. It's a buyer's market.
posted by Oktober at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

If the roof is this bad after just 16 years you ought to wonder where else the builder cut corners! I think you are entirely reasonable in asking for a roofing allowance. Have you had the house inspected by someone reputable and neutral? Make sure the inspector looks for other signs of shoddy workmanship or cheap materials.
posted by mareli at 10:55 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's not clear whether you've already agreed on a price and/or closed the house. If you're already committed, then you're stuck with the bill for this. If you can still get out of the deal then you can negotiate. The seller isn't obligated to give you any such allowance.

More, that's $10k out of pocket in a couple years, not $10k that can be paid off at a low 4% over the next 30 years.

You could add it to the mortgage and have it redone right away.
posted by jon1270 at 10:56 AM on November 29, 2011

Response by poster: Mareli, yes--the roof was discovered during the home inspection. Then licensed roofing contractors went out to look. The home inspector said the house is well constructed, but the roof needed replacement shingles/tabs (which I believe has been done, awaiting an e-mail of the report) and that the water heaters were 16 years old (same as the house) and we should budget to replace those if/when they go out, but the roof is the big issue for us right now.
posted by arniec at 10:57 AM on November 29, 2011

Yes, ask for the roof allowance.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:58 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Jon, we have signed a contract but not closed. The contract was conditional on the home inspection, which found the roof problem. So I may have to contact my attorney for clarification but I believe if we don't come to agreement on the roof we can walk away and get our earnest money back.
posted by arniec at 10:58 AM on November 29, 2011

IANAL, etc.... If you have an escape clause in your purchase offer, based on satisfactory inspection, then just invoke it and walk away ... and potentially make a new offer with a lower price, one you feel reflects the true value, but with no inspection clause. Standard advice I have been given: do not get emotionally attached to a house you put an offer on.
posted by aroberge at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Figure out if you are able to back out of your contract before you start negotiating. I know that some conditional agreements only allow you to back out with your deposit if something catastrophic is found or you can show you were misled. Make sure you know what your position is.

I would try to negotiate in the roof, or at least aargh chunk of the expected cost. Worst case is that they balk, and then you are in the same position you are in now and can decide what you want to do. I don't see a downside to at least attempting to negotiate for the price of a new roof.
posted by Nightman at 11:03 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can absolutely ask for that--we asked for a small reduction in sale price based on what showed up in the inspection. We had to do that within a certain (small) number of days, so check your contract right now. Also, there's no guarantee that the seller will accept it, in which case it's your decision whether to walk away or pay for it yourself.

But yeah, also talk to whatever lawyer you have to double check if you're not sure about the wording in the contract.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:04 AM on November 29, 2011

One point: the inspector seems to have said that the roof needed minor repairs (which were done). The roofer is the one saying it will need to be replaced in "2-5 years." Of course, the roofer also has a vested interest in frequent roof replacement and in planting the seed in your mind that you'd be better off replacing that roof soon. You might think about getting a second opinion as to the roof's structural integrity. That seems like a pretty crappy lifetime for the roof on an otherwise well-built house.
posted by yoink at 11:06 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

The contract was conditional on the home inspection, which found the roof problem.

In that case, then heck yeah. This is why that contract condition exists.
posted by jon1270 at 11:08 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a real estate agent. If you were my client, I'd tell you that you can ask for an allowance, but don't be surprised if you don't get it.

Homes are supposed to come with roofs that are functional. Having a roofer tell you that the roof has 2-5 years left in it does not equal a non-functional roof.

This happens commonly with water heaters and mechanical systems, too: buyers see that the inspector says a unit's expected life is 10 years, this one is 8 years old, and buyers want an allowance for it because it COULD break down. If the item is still functional, there is customarily no allowance given just because it's old.
posted by FergieBelle at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nothing is final until closing. EVERYONE wants this sale to close regardless of where it puts you financially. Look out for yourself. Tell them you need an allowance or you're out. (And mean it.) That's a lot of money and nobody is looking out for you except you.
posted by scottatdrake at 11:22 AM on November 29, 2011

Absolutely. Either allowance or cut the price equal to the allowance.
posted by stormpooper at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2011

I agree that you can ask, but you shouldn't be surprised if you don't get.

When we bought a house earlier this year, we were looking only at ones that clearly did not need much or anything in the way of renovation and repairs, but we still found in the inspections that more than half of them had serious repairs needed to the roof, either right away, or "within the next couple of years". From that perspective, although it is of course undesirable to have a roof that is nearing the end of its life, it's not really the sort of shocking and completely unexpected thing that the seller might be expecting you to walk away because of.

(Fortunately here the seller is required to provide the inspection report at their own cost, reimbursed later at closing by the buyer, so we were able to look at and walk away from about eight houses with roof problems at no expense to us).
posted by lollusc at 3:25 PM on November 29, 2011

Yes, definitely ask for it or else just walk away.
posted by WizKid at 2:35 PM on November 30, 2011

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