To reroof or not to reroof . . . that is the question!

Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen

I am really quite fortunate having married a high end roofing contractor. We don't always agree on issues, but we frequently come together on matters of sellers and their roofs. Actually, he gets called on (well, actually I get called on to "ask him") a lot for "free advice" on behalf of many of my colleagues. They appreciate his candor and his ethics. If a roof needs replacing - he says so. If it just needs a repair, he will tell you. If you don't need any work, he will tell you that as well. He's an honest guy.

The question frequently arises when someone decides to sell their home - "Is it worth replacing the roof?" And of course, most buyers or their savvy agents will ask, "So, how is the roof?"  The roof is a big deal! It keeps out the elements and lends a unique profile to a home. They can be very expensive or bargain basement.

Generally speaking the seller is asking the question because the roof is/has leaked or it looks like it is aging - because it is. Or their realtor has concerns how the home will show. Here in the Pacific Northwest roofs can take a serious beating with all the wind and rain. Those lovely cedar shakes begin to split and go black. This is the normal process of aging with this type of material - but it is aging. Laminates lift or blow off and granules fleck off. We also have  moss on any kind of material facing north because we have lots of trees and a damp winter climate. And plywood and underlay have a life expectancy as well so the age of the home may be a factor.  

So here's the thing:

•1.       If you ask my husband, a new roof adds curb appeal! Which means your house will sell faster! Not only does your home look better with the right product and colour, any leaks can be dealt with and any interior damage addressed. Just be sure it's a decent roof. Nothing looks worse than a shoddy, slapped on roof and it may end up costing you more.

•2.       Speaking of costing you more . . . my experience as a realtor is that buyer's will try to negotiate way more off the price if the roof appears to be aging or failing. For the buyer, there is the BIG unknown. Not just the cost of a new roof but for replacing skylights, flashings, soffits or of any damage/water ingress to the interior causing mould, rot, a crumbling chimney - you name it. The truth is, is your roof is leaking the continued damage from water coming into your home will cost you more.

•3.       Any inspector worth his or her salt will find the problems and note the aging. You cannot hide the roof issues.

•4.       Buyers are far more comfortable knowing the roof has been replaced. It's one less worry for a new owner. A reputable roofing company will give you a transferable warranty. This is a great selling aspect. Peace of mind is a big deal!

•5.       My husband always tells sellers, you may not get back everything you spend on your roof, but if your home spends less time on the market, doesn't that save money in the end?

For my sellers with homes that have a questionable roof, I recommend they get a few quotes so they know what they can expect in either replacing their roof or negotiating their price. Ask for references. I'm also a strong advocate of sellers having a home inspection before they list. This way, there are no surprises and they can address problems in advance or inform prospective buyers and price accordingly. If a few of the neighbours have recently reroofed their homes, ask how much they spent and what did they get for their money. Most neighbourhoods "age" at about the same time so chances are good someone has already had to suck it up.

So, what do you think? When a seller asks, "should I replace the roof", what is your response?  

Comments (2)

Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA - Eureka, CA
Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA

Good Morning Jan, great input on replacing a roof.

Feb 04, 2011 08:59 PM
Jackson Willis

It really comes down to whether or not your roof will pass an inspection. If it won't you should replace it, if it will, you don't have to worry about it. If you're not selling, you just have to make a decision on whether or not it's important to you to have this done. You will know for yourself what you can afford, and which jobs are important to you.

Feb 04, 2015 11:25 AM