To roof or not? - from a 'motivated' seller

debndulcyOctober 18, 2009

I'd much appreciate advice/input/opinions on my question/issue:

It's mid-October here in SE PA and though I'd planned to get my house on the market in summer, I was ill and couldn't. Given my health and related pressures, I want to sell and move.. the sooner, the better. My home and property has totally been refurbished (bought it as a fixer-upper) - except for the roof, which appears to be at the end of its life..

The north facing side appears fine: shingles all intact, 'clean,' and no leaks anywhere. The south-facing side is a mess: shingles disintegrating, starting to clog gutters and there are leaks from valleys areas over two dormers. From inside (the attic) you can't see any light, and I was told that's 'good' for the moment.

Of course, if I could afford to now, I'd have the whole thing done over, but I can't. I've thought of borrowing to take care of the 'in-need' side, though I don't like doing it. then, there are our priorities.. I've asked roofers for a price on doing only the back at this time, in order to improve chances to sell (particularly at this time of the year). Some won't do it, others have pointed out what I know, it would be more expensive over the long haul (dumpster, etc), - but if it's all I can afford and necessary for my current needs/purpose - it seems like a reasonable option to me.

What do you think? I realize I could negotiate on price on the roof - but also been told that trying to sell a home with a bad roof - after working so hard to make everything else perfect - will negate the latter and I'd end up having to sell at a serious 'loss.' I don't know what my chances are of selling at this time of the year - and economy - but, of course I'd like to give it my best shot. I'm told the house shows very well inside and out.. except for the roof. Given my health - I'm concerned about waiting until Spring - and if I could move on now, I'd really like to.

THANK YOU in advance for any and all input!


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A buyer is going to have an inspection and the inspector will likely advise the buyer to have the roof inspected. The buyer will realize then that you've just patched the roof, replacing only a portion. If the roof appears at the end of it's life then the buyer will either want the price of the house to reflect that a new roof is needed or will want the roof replaced before purchase or will totally pass on the house. So either replace the roof totally or be prepared to give a serious discount on the price of the home.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 12:38PM
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Thanks cordova - and a clarification: I wouldn't just patch the roof - I was thinking of full replacing the back/south roof - while waiting on the other/north side - and I'd expect to make this known well before the inspection process (in disclosures?) -

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 12:57PM
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If it were me I'd, reroof it now even if you have to take out a loan to do it. If you wait the chances are pretty good that our winter weather is going to make things worse. I realize only the one side is showing leaks however that can change at a drop of a hat since one side is already leaking. By waiting you are risking major damage to the inside of the house which will cost you more money and possible the chance to even sell the place.
I've got to believe there's a reliable roofing company that will work with you to get it done on a payment plan.
This time of year home buyers do not want to deal with purchasing a house, moving and then having to have a house re-roofed. The weather is already proving flaky this year and the farther into Oct/Nov we get the worse it will get.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 3:31PM
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It's very typical in our locality to have older homes re-roofed just on one side (if just one side has issues) and most all of our roofers will do it. Ours pretty much charge by pitch/material and sq. footage. I've had to rent dumpsters for some major renovations, but never had to for roof replacement. The roofers always hauled away and saw to disposal of the debris.

It depends on the house and what audience you are wishing to attract. It also depends on the integrity of the side you would rather not shingle at this time. A good roofer can also estimate how much life is left on that side, as would a reputable inspector.

The reason on side is bad and the other isn't may very well be because somebody already just had one side done. That wouldn't stop me from buying the right property, reasonably priced. But then again, I've helped roof my own properties.

I don't think there is a 'pat' answer to it. Something like this falls under the laws of diminishing returns. If you are trying to sell, some investments pay back better than others.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 5:56PM
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I would never consider buying a home that needed a roof immediately. I would also shun a house where the roof had been partially replaced or patched. A home with a brand new, quality re-roof, however, would get a big thumbs up from me as a buyer, especially if the roofer gave a warranty of labor with the just installed roof.

I agree with other posters. Find a way to pay for a complete re-roof before you put it on the market.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 5:58PM
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I wouldn't buy a home needing an immediate roof replacement, either unless somebody really made it worth my while. I would also not buy a house where a roof had been cobbled up and patched, but I would buy a house where there was one roof side in good shape, and the other just replaced.

What you see on these boards are people across a whole spectrum, in different localities, in different housing markets, and with different expectations. If you are in poor health, and need a loan to do a total roof replacement, and you can fix it with one sided repair so that nobody has to deal with it for a reasonable amount of time, it may be the most practical solution. You may go in to debt to spring for a total roof replacement and then have it sit on the market in this economy.

The main issue, unless you are selling a high-end home is to have it weather-tight, neat appearing and have an expectation it is going to stay that way for a reasonable amount of time.

Look at it this way. Many homes are selling with the whole roof having an expected life of five or ten years. So, you have a house where just one side of it would need repaired, in a decade or so, instead of all of it.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 9:41PM
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If I was looking at your house as a buyer and you were up front about the roofing needs and included a bid to reroof from a reputable company so that I knew how much the repair work would cost - I would consider buying it. I would also expect a reduction in price that correlates with the roof repair costs. If you really wanted to win me over you would have two or three bids from reputable companies.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:30AM
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We just sold our house. The inspection on the roof was ok. Our realtor told us that the roof still had to be ok'd by the insurance company. If the insurance company didn't sign off on the roof then we would have had to replace it because if the insurer wouldn't insure it, then our buyers wouldn't have been able to obtain a mortgage.

In our case, we had a roof that was over ten year old. We live in Oklahoma which is prone to high winds, hail, and just overall extreme weather. The majority of our neighbors had replaced their roofs (insurance money) after a round of storms had come through. We didn't. The southwest side of our roof has has had shingles replaced twice because that's the part of the roof that seems to take the brunt of the storms. The other parts of the roof have been fine because they get the wind at the same angle.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 10:51AM
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Thank you for the thoughts/comments and information... My predisposition is to try to sell the place in as perfect condition as possible, and it's the way I've done the work I have on the place.. unfortunately the roof is my last item - and a big one - which has really gotten worse over the last year.

Friends are telling me to sell "as is" and be done with it (given my wider considerations) - but I feel I may lose a lot more than the cost to replace the roof if I do that (ie, be low-balled).

I'm hearing that the 'first time home buyer' incentive may be continued - which puts me in a little less than a panic. Though I talked with an agent today who advised to get it on the market 'this week' to take advantage of the supposed flurry of buyers trying to buy in time to close before the end of November. Aaagghh - what to do - as with most I expect - I don't want to give 'my hard work' away for nothing.. though an trying to be as realistic as possible - there's much to weigh.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 4:17PM
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Everyone has a different point of view. Unfortunately, there isn't really enough info given to provide real recommendations.

1) how much does a partial reroof cost? a full reroof?
2) proposed sale price of the house? compared to the rest of the market?

I went through this with the sale of my house and had multiple offers wthin 2 weeks. decided not to sell, but thats besides the point.

I had a house in perfect condition except somewhat drap, siding and a roof that had shingles falling off the back and crumbling. Sale price of $380K for a small house. the Roof would include a full strip 3 layers including the ceder shake shingles, put down plywood on the whole roof, paper and shingle. Considering we just did a nice full gut remodel of the house within the past 5 years, we thought we would lose more than the cost to do it, which was done by my BIL and his contracting company(about $7500), plus it would look nicer to boot.

The home was marketed to first time homebuyers who wanted to do no work, and liked nice things. I was afraid they'd drop their offer $10K just by looking at the roof. Then come inspection time double dip and ask for another $10K-15K off.

to the other extreme, if your house is worth $100K and the roof is $20K. I'm not sure if the math to replace it works.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 5:30PM
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Thanks, Chrisk, for info and perspective.. I've been working on getting this down-pat and have realtors scheduled to come in for pricing. On the phone (w/o seeing the place) I'm getting a possible range of $225 -

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 1:41PM
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Replace the roof. Take a loan if needed. Don't ever give someone a negotiating point - if at all possible.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 4:19PM
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Who would be your typical buyer in your area? First-time home buyer or a move-up buyer? A first time home buyer may be more picky.

I know my concern with the roof as you described it is that there are leaks and all buyers are going to be concerned with that. Leaks create other damage that is harder to put a price on to fix and I would deduct more from the price for that and be concerned about mold.

I think if you have leaks you need to get that part fixed asap before more damage is created.

Is it common to re-roof half of a house in your area? If so then that option should be perfectly fine. If it is not then the whole roof would be the best option to not raise flags.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 7:44AM
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I would recommend replacing the entire roof for a couple of reasons. First of all, as a buyer, I would be concerned about someone who fixed up all the "cosmetic aspects" of a house and saved the roof for last. This sounds like it should have been the first thing done. Its not like something like this just breaks down overnight. I would also be concerned with the quality of the rest of the work on the house if only "half the roof" was replaced.(that could appear that corners were cut) In the long run, I think not replacing the entire roof, done the right way will hurt you on the final sales price. Also, Im not familiar with your part of PA, but for a 225k to 250k house, $9000 sounds like a lot for a roof (unless you need plywood or something else). I would also check with your town, permits are not required in my area for a reshingling, it might be worth the call to see if that particular roofer is puffing up his prices.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 7:51AM
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As in the near suburbs of a major city (here, Philadelphia), there is a range of housing mixed within a relatively smaller town/area. Most in my (middle income, single family house) neighborhood are first time buyers or movers-up from smaller twins or from homes in the inner city. There are also some great larger Victorians, Craftsman and Tudor-style homes (for move-up buyers, who like the burbs and easy access to downtown) mixed in throughout the smaller singles (like mine, 1,800 sq ft, but I have a larger lot than many of the homes, large or small), - and it's beautifully landscaped (had to add that, as it is my pride and joy).

The roof had some leaks over two dormers which I've patched to be sure they didn't become bigger problems. I had planned to - and would have replaced the roof before now - but health problems and related income drop precluded that. Now I'd like to move-on - and sell - to focus on my health - and not the burdens of a home and mortgage. I'D LIKE TO DO THE BEST POSSIBLE I can to insure I get proper value for what I've already invested in my house (whatever today's market may be). If I had funds to do the whole roof (and yes, 3 layers + cedar shingles need to come off the back/South side, and there are 2 layers + shingles that would come off the front - and start over laying plywood) I wouldn't hesitate.

I would feel best selling it with a whole new roof - and it would be most attractive to buyers (and I'd feel I finished 'the job' right as a prior owner)- but I can't, I may need to just go half-way and do the back which is bad, borrowing from friend or family (front, again, looks fine and no problems with leaks or anything else).

I understand, linda, that it could give the appearance that 'corners were cut' (I would be suspicious of that myself) - but I'd hope there'd be room to explain my circumstance - and desire to keep the place up as best possible (again, I've been told that all of the refurbishing, landscaping, etc look and 'show very well).. to my fullest capacity. I would believe the quality of the work on the house overall, would be evidence of that.

I don't like the idea of raising flags or opening negotiating points, especially since I've worked so hard to get the place to this point, except for...

I noticed a home up the street from me with a 'sold' sign on it today, and that they're working on the roof... I'm assuming that it's being done as part of a negotiated agreement... and will try to find out.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 2:07PM
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Once a buyer finds out you have health issues they MAY use that to bring the price down, especially in todays market where everyone is looking to cash in on someone else's problems.

If there is a house down the street from you getting a new roof go talk to them about cost. Going thru a agent may end up costing you more than getting someone directly. I've seen too many agents use a friend of a friend and tho they might be okay at what they do they aren't always the best choice $ wise.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 3:18PM
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If you don't have any current leaks - you could offer a roofing allowance based on the bids you have. That way you set what you are willing to give for it and have your price set as you had a brand new roof.

To me that would be a positive vs. not doing anything or just doing half the roof. It also shows you are aware of it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 4:28PM
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