Should You Buy a House With Roof Damage? The Surprising Benefits—and Challenges

There’s no doubt that we’ve had a tremendous about of rain in Central Texas in the last two months that have also been responsible for a large amount of damage to homes in Austin and the surrounding area including roof damage.

The big question is if you should buy a home that has roof damage or pass on continue searching for a home until you find a home without roof damage.

In this article we will offer you several things to consider before buying a home that has roof damage:

How bad is the damage?

The extent of the roofing damage is one factor that should help sway your decision.

“If some or all of the shingles have been blown off during a one-time event like a tornado, hurricane, or tree collapse because of a storm, then correcting any structural damage and replacing the shingles should suffice,” says Frank Lesh, former president and executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

The problem with roofing damage, however, is that it can be more extensive than it appears.

“Be aware that a bad roof could lead to other issues such as ceiling drywall, insulation, or even structural replacement,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers in Atlanta. And these additional issues can add to the cost of fixing the roof.

Are you getting an FHA loan?

Buyers who plan on using a Federal Housing Administration loan to finance the house can end up putting down as little as 3.5%. But to be approved for the FHA loan, the property must be in livable and insurable condition, and the buyer must have secured property insurance before closing.

To get property insurance, the insurance company will require a four-point inspection, which covers electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and the roof’s condition and life expectancy, according to Juan Rojas, licensed real estate broker at JPR International Real Estate in Miami.

“Typically, if the roof doesn’t have at least three years of life expectancy, an insurance company won’t be able to insure it,” he says.

Therefore, if you’re planning on getting an FHA loan, trying to buy a home with roof damage might be more trouble than it’s worth.

What if it’s just an old roof?

Perhaps there’s no proven damage to the roof; maybe it’s just really old, like, 20 years old. The life span of your roof is determined by the material it’s made of and the weather conditions in your area. Slate, copper, and tile roofs can last 50 years or longer; wood shake roofs last about 30 years; fiber cement shingles last 25 years; and asphalt shingle roofs last about 20 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Home buyers shouldn’t necessarily shy away from a home with an older roof, Lesh says.

“It would depend on the quality of the workmanship and materials, and whether any signs of abnormal wear are visible,” he says. “For example, a 20-year-old undamaged, clay tile roof in the southwestern United States is more likely to last longer than a brand-new composite shingle roof in the same area.”

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