There is no way around it: a new roof is a major expense. And if there is one thing that a home buyer does not need, it’s one more expense when making an offer on a prospective home. But there are steps you can take and factors you should consider when deciding whether a roof will make or break your interest in a home.

Steps to Take When Considering a Home with an Old or Damaged Roof

First, if this is a home you are seriously considering, enlist your home inspector to give you the clearest sense of the roof’s current state. He or she will be able to assess whether the roof is reaching the end of its usable life, or whether it may need small or larger repairs.

If you are really in love with the home, we suggest going on step further and bringing a contractor into the equation to help shed more light on the state of the roof. Home inspectors possess a wealth of knowledge about many areas of the home, but there is nothing like having a contractor who is skilled in roofing repair and replacement to give you a professional opinion on the state of the roof. He or she will be able to both assess the situation more in-depth and provide you with a rough estimate of the cost of the work that needs to be done. If you are considering moving ahead with the purchase of a new home despite a roof that needs replacement, a contractor with expert knowledge in roofing can even begin to discuss which options will best suit your home’s needs.

Once you have taken these steps, you can negotiate with the seller about the issue of roofing repair or replacement. Do not assume that sellers won’t be willing to negotiate–if the roof is old and decrepit enough, chances are they knew the issue was going to come up anyway. To determine what kind of adjustment to the purchase price you feel is fair, you will have to consider the findings from your home inspector or contractor.

Old or Damaged Roofing: Factors Home buyers Should Consider

A home inspector or a contractor may present you with a whole range of findings about the state of a prospective home’s roof. A best-case scenario would be a roof that is missing shingles but not otherwise damaged. This is often the case with homes that have experienced extreme weather conditions. Terri Williams, writing for Realtor.com, offers this explanation from Frank Lesh, former president and executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors: “‘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.’” It may sound counter intuitive, then, but extreme weather conditions may be a best-case scenario for a prospective home’s roofing repair needs.

On the other hand, a roof that has fallen into disrepair can often disguise bigger issues. If you are pursuing a home that has been vacant for some time–perhaps the result of a foreclosure–proceed with caution if your home inspector or contractor registers concern about the state of an old roof. Williams continues: “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.” If you are considering a home being sold “as-is,” which many foreclosures are, take special care to plan potential additional repair costs into the total amount you are willing to pay for the home.

We hope this home buyer’s guide is helpful, but we are here to discuss further and help you with any of your roofing needs.