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Most Common Home Defects

David Bartels

Meet David Bartels - Selected as one of America's Top 100 Real Estate Agents, he is among the Top 1% of of all agents nationwide and leader of the #1 ...

Meet David Bartels - Selected as one of America's Top 100 Real Estate Agents, he is among the Top 1% of of all agents nationwide and leader of the #1 ...

Feb 8 5 minutes read

I saw an interesting advertisement this week for American Home Shield, the large home warranty company. They provide policies to homeowners – usually people just closing on a home – that cover the failure of various systems in the house during a specific period.  Normally you’d get a home warranty if you were buying a resale house that had a few years on it so that you’d have some  protection if the air conditioner failed during the first year.

Last year, AHS spent more than $40 million fulfilling service requests from its California customers.  What is interesting is what the money was spent repairing.  Here’s the breakdown:

Appliances –             $13,063,685     32.3%

Plumbing –                $10,414,745    25.7%

Air Conditioning –    $ 8,178,977     20.2%

Heating –                   $ 4,550,396     11.2%

Pool/Spa –                  $ 2,717,506      6.7%

Electrical –                $  1,286,154       3.1%

Other –                       $    237,548      .80%

I think it is interesting that almost a third of the money spent on claims goes to repair or replace appliances.  Of course some appliances are built in:  dishwashers, disposals, some stoves and so on, but many are not attached to the house and are therefore something to be bargained over during purchase:  refrigerators come to mind.

The point is this:  if you are buying a house including appliances and DON’T plan a kitchen remodel, check them out thoroughly.  Ask for owner’s manuals and any existing warranties.  And before you walk away from a home you really want because the seller won’t throw in a ten year old refrigerator . . . well, maybe you don’t really want that refrigerator at all!

Number two is plumbing.  This is a biggie and makes a Home Warranty an important part of any home purchase.  So many unseen events can compromise plumbing – things even a home inspector won’t find – that having a little protection is a good idea.  And plumbing repairs – whether it’s digging up a drain clogged by tree roots or dealing with the water heater that fails and floods – can be expensive.  I am struck by the fact that 25% of the money spent on claims was for plumbing issues!

The rest of the list probably doesn’t bear much dissection.  There are two things, however:

  • Just 6.7% spent on pools and spas.  The low number is because there are relatively few pools and/or spas and because Home Warranty coverage of these things is usually an option at an additional cost.
  • And less than one percent spent on items other than the six that preceded ‘Other.’

I think, if you are buying a home, you now have six major systems you need to examine closely.  If there’s going to be a problem, it is probably going to be here.  The best way to do this is to hire a professional home inspector to go through the home with a fine tooth comb.  Make sure the resulting report covers the big six.

As an aside, there is a great truth about home inspections:  they are very valuable AND they always turn up something.  Don’t expect your home inspection to result in a ‘clean’ report.  There’s no such thing.  When you get the report, go through it carefully and rationally.  Most items will be minor.  If there is something major it can become a negotiating point between you and the seller.

Finally, while we’ve been looking at information from American Home Shield, they are but one of several reputable Home Warranty companies.  I always recommend a warranty on a resale property.  The last thing you want your first year in your dream home is a costly repair bill for an unforeseen problem! Warranties usually cost between $400 – $600 and can cover one to two years.  Often they are extendable.

Help-U-Sell Conejo Valley is a progressive full service real estate company saving buyers and sellers thousands in Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Camarillo, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Los Angeles  and all of the Conejo Valley.  You may reach us at (805) 379-3300, or by email to[email protected].  Visit our website:

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