Return on Investment – Blog 2 – Repair or Replace

This blog series will help readers navigate some of the choices that homeowners face when they suddenly need to repair or replace a major appliance like a water heater.

We’ve spoken with real estate expert Lance Phillips and gathered information from two local home inspectors to find out what buyers and inspectors are looking for.  Will this affect your choice?  It might, especially if you are not planning on staying in the home for more than 6 years.  When you have an opportunity to position yourself with a ROI on a basic appliance, you’ll want to know what choices you should make and why, without overbuying.  This is what we found out…

With the real estate market becoming more balanced, the days of buyers going in without subjects and inspections are largely in the past.  Buyers now have the time to get inspections and even use them to negotiate.  You can use this to your advantage

Repair vs. Replace

Since you can’t do without hot water, you will be repairing or replacing your tank anyway.  The question is, if you can repair it for a few hundred dollars, why spend $1000 more to replace?  Well if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market in the next few years, “biting the bullet” now might be worth it.

When it comes to a hot water tank, both of the inspector companies I reviewed have the same policy.  They will always look at the date of manufacture for the tank in the home.  If the tank is more than 5-6 years old, they will typically recommend replacement. This is because the tanks manufactured today come with a standard six-year warranty that is based on their fail experience data.  The standard used to be eight years!

Inspectors and agents will typically counsel parties to replace an aging water heater because of what could happen if they leak or burst.  For the seller, it’s pro-active because it will be brought up by the inspector anyway. For the buyer, it’s peace of mind. When it comes to the overall cost of buying a home it is a fairly small consideration to ask for considering the damage a burst water heater can cause.

So our advice is to use your planned sale date to help with your decision.  If you’re not going to sell for 5 years, try and repair.  If you’re selling in the next 3 years, then replacement may be the best choice.

Wondering about on-demand / tank-less or getting a larger tank?  See our next ROI blog!