Make Sure Your Home Warranty Is There When You Need It, Money Saving Advice From Pensacola Real Estate News
When buying or selling real estate, home warranty plans are often included as an incentive from the seller to the buyer, or sometimes as a negotiation tool. I recommend all of my home buyers get a home warranty, even if the seller is not offering a home warranty and the buyer has to pay for it. In this buyer’s real estate market, motivated sellers should offer a home warranty.
However, this article is not about getting a home warranty. This article is about how to protect your investment in a home warranty once you have it. Remember, the home warranty provider does not make money by fixing your problems. The home warranty provider wants to find a way to get out of fixing your problems, and thus keeping their money. Please take this advice to heart. It could save you a lot of frustration and money.
This article is based on an experience of a buyer who was my client. The behaviors described in this article may not be true for all home warranty companies. But the advice given is important, no matter who issues your home warranty.
Let’s say that you purchased a home, along with a home warranty plan. You are feeling good knowing that if you have problems with warranted items, you pay a small service fee and the home warranty company will cover the rest. You had your home inspected prior to closing and the inspector told you that everything was in working condition.
Let’s say that you close on your home in July, a very hot time of year in Pensacola. Why would you think of running your heater in July?
Now November comes, and a blast of cold air comes down from the north. It is time to get some heat on. But to your dismay, the heater does not seem to be blowing any hot air. After checking what little you actually know how to check, and getting advice from your friends who don’t know any more about heating and A/C units than you do, you decide it is time to call the warranty company.
Important: Don’t bother calling your real estate agent. He or she likely knows very little about heating systems, and that is why he or she recommended you get a home warranty.
MAKING THE CALL – BE ON YOUR GUARD
You dig up your paperwork from the real estate closing, and give the warranty company a call. A very sweet customer service representative from the warranty company answers. She talks to you like a friend, sharing how terrible she feels that you may have to endure a few cold nights in your home while you wait for service. After several minutes of basic question and answer conversation, you are feeling very good about the whole situation. This warranty company really cares about you. You can just hear it in her voice. She is like a genuine friend.
And then the warranty company representative asks if you have tried the heater since you moved in to your new home. Your guard is down, you are at ease with your friend on the other end of the phone, and you answer “Well, no. We bought the home in July and it was very hot. But we had a home inspection and the inspector ensured us that the heater worked when the home was inspected”.
Then the warm and friendly answer on the other end comes. “We’re sorry, but since you have told us that you did not know if your heater worked when you purchased the home, we are not obligated to cover it under your warranty plan. You did not actually own the home when the inspector tested the heating system”.
OUCH!!! Even though the weather has gotten cold, you are now feeling pretty hot. But don’t lose your cool, as you can be sure the call is being recorded “to ensure quality service”.
Don’t let this happen to you. When you move into your new home, test every item that is covered under the home warranty. If it is the middle of winter, test your air conditioning. If it is the middle of summer, test your heater. Test all of the burners on your stove, even if you never cook. Test all the features of your oven and your dishwasher. If the seller left you a freezer in the garage that you really don’t need right now, test it anyway.
Now if you have a problem in the future, you can call your home warranty company and say “YES, I know it worked when I moved in because I used it”. It is as simple as that. You keep your warranty in force.
BUT what if you move in and test your heater, or your stove, or your A/C, and find that it doesn’t work? You have no way of proving that it worked at the time you purchased your home warranty, which was at the closing table. What are you going to tell the warranty company when they ask you if you have tried it since you moved in and verified that it worked? I just wrote this article to explain how to protect your home warranty, not to answer moral dilemmas. Hopefully you will never have to decide how you would answer your friendly home warranty operator in this situation.
After publishing this article, a local home warranty company contacted me with updated information. You can read about it in my follow-up article on home warranties.