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Falling apart at middle age

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

I'm hearing about a strange new phenomenon that is reaching for our shores... er... well, not really our shores, but at least our area.  That is northern Illinois.

I've just started hearing about transactions falling apart because buyers are unable to obtain insurance for the property because the roof is over 10 years old.  Not because the roof is leaking, or the roof is in poor shape.  And in one case that I heard about it was an architectural shingle that had a 40-year warranty and it was 12-years-old, and the buyer was unable to obtain insurance.

I'd heard of this in areas that are subject to wild weather... like Florida, Oklahoma and Texas, where tornadoes seem to seek and hunt down trailers and roofs and fling them around like Godzilla plays with Japanese cars, but here in Illinois, I've never run across it.

I've still not experienced it personally, and I hope to never run into it, but I have heard of a couple of cases nearby, and it makes me shudder.

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email: Almay@aol.com

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Alan May before I retired 5 years ago I heard of at least one insurer doing this. Several were no longer insuring homes with fuse boxes. Who knows what's next? I have an antenna on top of my home, will they drop me because it might attract lightning.

Apr 16, 2024 06:23 PM
Alan May

Right.  They've been refusing to insure homes with knob & tube wiring for quite a while, but often they'd say "buyer must mitigate within the first year of ownership"

Apr 17, 2024 03:09 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Alan- I don't understand. I'd thought roofs had an average lifespan of at least 20 years??!!  When you want to get to the bottom of "why" follow the money. 

Apr 16, 2024 06:28 PM
Alan May

It doesn't make much sense to me, either.

Apr 17, 2024 03:09 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

State farm apparently lost billions last year (or lots of millions) (what is that much money between friends)  so they are being super tough and raising rates (mine with State farm went up by 25% this spring.)  It may be companies literally trying to cut their potential losses

Apr 16, 2024 07:25 PM
Alan May

And I understand that, but how does refusing to accept a policy due to a 12-year-old roof that has a 40-year lifespan help them recoup money?  I'd argue that it does the opposite.

Apr 17, 2024 03:10 AM
Liz and Bill Spear
Transaction Alliance 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
Transaction Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

So that's some significant cherry picking on their part.  We want with a (supposedly) 50 year shingle when we reroofed, and it's been more than 10 years, so hopefully it won't be an issue for our buyer whenever that time comes.

Apr 16, 2024 07:55 PM
Alan May

An agent in our are (I'm not far from you) is now recommending replacing your roof if it's older than 10 years when you prepare to sell... just in case.  Personally I find that more than ridiculous.

Apr 17, 2024 03:12 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Alan. Having done business in Florida for years I have dealt with the issue. Had not heard of this problem migrating to Illinois. It is nonsense. If it's not broke why fix it? Enjoy your day.

Apr 17, 2024 04:31 AM
Alan May

Sure sounds like nonsense to me.

Apr 17, 2024 03:26 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

It's a waste of money to have to replace a roof that is perfectly fine. And it's ridiculous to make homeowners pay extra for something that is perfectly fine. And that's how I feel about that!

Apr 17, 2024 05:13 AM
Alan May

And yet, that seems to be what's happening.

Apr 17, 2024 03:26 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

I posted a video last week of a conversation with an insurance agent locally, and he mentioned this, but actually said 7 years old or older, insurance companies were declining to write the coverage. Here is a short excerpt.


Apr 17, 2024 08:14 AM
Alan May

That is crazy!!

Apr 17, 2024 03:26 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Alan,

We are seeing insurance rates skyrocket and hearing from insurance companies if your roof is older than 15 years they will insure it but won't replace if you get hail damage. They have figured out a depreciation schedule which would credit very little to you if your roof is older than 15 years.

Apr 17, 2024 09:02 AM
Alan May

I'd actually be okay with that version... not replacing a 15+ year old roof for hail damage.

Apr 17, 2024 03:27 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Apr 20, 2024 06:26 PM
Alan May


Apr 21, 2024 03:19 AM
Michael Elliott
Fathom Realty - Burlington Township, NJ
Burlington, New Jersey Residential Sales

Wow, even with 40 year shingles?   This makes absolutely no sense.   Thanks for the heads up.

Apr 21, 2024 05:05 AM
Alan May

I know, crazy, right?

Apr 21, 2024 07:57 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That is significant.  I queried our insurance agent as to the crazy rise in rates and his belief was that it was a blowback from the claims in the south and the companies trying to recover elsewhere.  Auto policies were the most drastic for increase.

Apr 21, 2024 07:42 AM
Alan May

You know, Ed Silva, 203-206-0754, I can understand the insurance industry trying to recoup their loses by raising their rates.  I don't have to like it, but I can understand that.  That's a business model that I can parse.  But turning down business on roofs that are still well within their natural life-span makes zero sense to me.

Apr 21, 2024 07:59 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754

Alan May   I asked my insurance agent about it, and he was surprised especially as it is the insurance company that takes the hit and not the bank

Apr 28, 2024 05:17 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Insurance Rates are Skyrocketing ! Some Insurance Companies are turning down people for ridiculous reasons !

Apr 21, 2024 12:58 PM
Alan May

and this seems like one of them.

Apr 22, 2024 11:05 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


We are seeing more and more issues with homeowners' insurance not being renewed, rates escalating, and more. Natural disasters including wildfires are supposedly the cause. I've heard stories - but haven't experienced it - of insurance being declined due to roof age.


Apr 21, 2024 05:05 PM
Alan May

it seems so strange. doesn't it?

Apr 22, 2024 11:05 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Insurance companies are now cherry picking what and where they will ensure, Alan. It's ridiculous but what can you do, other than creating another company to compete against them? And I do not have that kind of money.

Apr 23, 2024 09:56 AM
Alan May

very few of us do, Ms. Wanda.

Apr 23, 2024 03:44 PM
Greg Large
ERA Real Solutions - Grove City, OH
A Tradition of Trust

Yes it is absurd Alan May, it seems to me a huge chunk of insurance premiums go to their lawyers to design policies to be able to deny claims more easily.

Apr 23, 2024 01:37 PM
Alan May

I think that's what the mouse-type is designed for.

Apr 23, 2024 03:45 PM
Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farm & Commercial Land Broker-Auctioneer Serving Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm & Commercial Property For Sale 308-627-3700

Nothing....absolutely nothing...surprises me anymore.  And yes I have heard of it...not in my area...but I am sure it is coming.

Apr 23, 2024 07:12 PM
Alan May

You know Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker, I keep saying that, and then something rises up and smack me in the face.

Apr 24, 2024 04:19 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Well, my vintage terra cotta roof is now 110 years old. Every so often my roofer replaces any rusted nails on loose tiles, but that thing will outlast me - and my insurance company! Insuring a house on a flood plain is one thing. But a 12 year old roof in Chicago is taking it a bit far.

Apr 25, 2024 06:02 AM
Alan May

hmmm... it raises an interesting question.  I wonder what their age limit would be for a terra cotta (or slate, cedar) roof might be these days?

Apr 25, 2024 08:42 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hi, Alan.  I included this in today's post of Last Week's Favorites on ActiveRain. So thank you for writing it!

Apr 28, 2024 09:05 AM
Alan May

awwwww, shucks.

Apr 28, 2024 01:53 PM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Alan May Interesting and really ridiculous if the seller can produce a letter from a licensed roofer I am shuddering too!

Apr 29, 2024 05:03 PM
Alan May

I wouldn't even think a letter from a roofer would be necessary, if the roof is only 10 years old.  The burden to prove that the roof was not in good shape, should be on the carrier who is refusing to insure it.

Apr 30, 2024 06:58 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

That is CRAZY, Alan! I hadn't heard of that in my area and like you, I thought it was just in areas that were frequented by severe weather.

Oddly enough, I sold a house last year to a couple who are into flipping. We listed and got the property under Contract recently and the weekend before the buyers were having their inspection, we had a terrible hail storm. One area, in particular, was hit FAR worse than any others. Of course, the cute flip was hit badly and needed a new roof as a result. The roof was less than a year old and had to be replaced! That is definitely the exception to the rule but, gosh, what are the chances?!

May 06, 2024 09:36 AM
Alan May

stuff like that only happens to properties that I own.

May 06, 2024 12:13 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS

HaHa! That is what the seller said - Murphy's Law, Alan May!

May 06, 2024 06:16 PM
Alan May

damn, that Murphy and his law.

May 09, 2024 02:40 PM