“Room without a roof” may be a fun metaphor when you’re Pharrell, but in real life a house sans an upper covering is a truly cold and miserable existence.
What’s more, roofs are a complex architectural feat and leave little room for error when it comes to design, installation, and materials. Even today, 40% of building issues stem from water leakage coming from the roof, and that three-decade guarantee on your shingles? Well, it will likely disappoint you around the 15-year mark, according to a report in Architect Magazine.
If your real estate agent has to pass out buckets on rainy day home showings to keep visitors dry, well, you’re due for a new roof before your house will be in selling condition. That’s a no brainer.
However, most roof replacement “what ifs” and negotiations aren’t quite as obvious. Sometimes, dropping the price of your house is more cost effective than dropping tens of thousands to boost your home’s marketability.
The answer to “does a new roof increase home value” is a resounding yes. Plus it makes your home easier to sell. But the ROI isn’t as cut-and-dried, so let’s break down all the available data and expert insights so you can make an informed choice on this hefty investment—from the bottom, up!
Roofs throughout the course of time: A quick history
Roofs are kind of a big deal (cue Anchorman voice). Your roof has a lot of responsibilities to shoulder—protect an entire home, its contents, and its occupants from everything outside. This tall order means the evolution of roofs (for the last several thousand years) has focused on durability and performance.
Humans have come a long way from thatched huts and palm fronds. In the 19th century, builders used wood, slate, and clay tiles for roofs, which were mostly used to keep out rain and protect from UV light. These materials were heavy, though, making them a hassle to haul and work with.
In the early 20th century, H.M. Reynolds Company is credited with developing the asphalt shingle, which many other companies adopted and then altered, experimenting with shapes, fire resistance, and textured coating.
In the 1930s, combining cement and asbestos proved durable and weighed much less than slate. Sheet metal roofs entered the scene in the 1930s as well.
Architect Magazine has visuals of roofing advertisements throughout history; each change making strides in insulation and durability. Now, the materials chosen largely depend on where you live and the slope of your roof.
What’s the cost of a new roof? We’ll give it to you straight
Homeowners will spend between $5,132 and $10,023 to replace a roof, according to estimates by HomeAdvisor. Between removal, labor and materials, this is about $3.50 to $5 per square foot. Asphalt shingles are on the low end of this, while slate and tile on the higher end.
These costs depend on the location, the materials used, and the home’s size. You can do the project yourself (eliminating about half the costs) but you could come across any number of complications (from water damage to choosing the wrong materials for your height and pitch). For this reason, you may want to gather some information about top roofers in your area and then hire a pro.
To price out an estimate for a new roof, check out RoofCalc.org. Since 2012, they’ve estimated more than 500,000 roofing projects based on U.S. professional contractor rates. Just type in some basic information like square footage, slope and material and get an idea of how much you can plan to spend on a new roof.
If you’re looking into just repairing, HomeAdvisor offers some basic cost models. The typical range of a roof repair is between $336-$1,254, with the national average falling around $792. These costs depend on the materials—asphalt being the least expensive to repair and slate being the most expensive.
Cost versus value: Does a new roof increase home value?
The short answer is “yes.”
She’s right on the money. Remodeling’s 2018 Cost Versus Value Report confirms, a homeowner can expect to get 66 to 69% of the cost of a new roof back in home value.
The long answer is “yes, but…”
…You probably can’t match dollar for dollar.
The 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, a survey conducted and published by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) states 45% of Realtors suggested sellers add new roofing before attempting to sell and 32%said roofing is what helped them close the deal. The organization argues the recovered cost is more than the spent cost (109%).
Replacing your roof does have a pretty high return on investment, especially compared to other house projects, but it doesn’t mean you can necessarily mark up the asking price dollar for dollar for what you spent on the new roof. Pricing a home is more complicated than that. That’s because…
…A house is supposed to have a roof.
When a buyer makes an offer, they assume the roof is there and is doing the job of a roof. It’s tied into the price tag, not an add-on, and the seller’s not acting entitled for thinking his new buy should have actual shelter.
Keeping up a roof is normal home maintenance, so a seller shouldn’t expect a buyer to pay extra for the roof, even if it is top-of-the-line and brand new.
For this reason, Christman says, if you have to replace your roof, go midrange.
“Don’t spend the high dollar amounts or do the bare minimum.”
Buyers can see if you did the bare minimum and they won’t want to pay for the upscale. Midrange is your best bet for high return on investment.
…There’s not an obvious right or wrong answer to replace
If your current scenario involves a bucket when it rains, replacement is the right answer. If it’s not so obvious, here is what Christman suggests:
- If the roof is looking good and there are no active leaks, a buyer should wait for the inspection.
- If the roof doesn’t look good, a buyer should ask a roofing contractor to come out and make suggestions.
- From there, you and your Realtor can hash out a plan.
Do you want to decrease the price of the home and let the buyer deal with it once they move in or do you want to upgrade the roof before listing? Either way, you’re crossing your fingers and hoping a buyer will be OK with your decision.
5 pro tips to maximize your ROI on a new roof
If you do decide to replace your roof before listing your home, here are a few tips to maximize the return on investment you get from it.
1. Don’t layer shingles
Some people replace their roof by simply re-shingling over the top of their old one. This is faster and cheaper but it’s also shortsighted and highly problematic. Pacific West Roofing suggests layering shingles can shorten your roof’s life by up to 40%, can trap heat, and can add too much weight to the roof.
Buyers, their agents and their inspectors are likely to mention a roof with a double layer and this find is more likely to hurt you than putting on that second layer “new roof” will help you.
2. Opt for roofing materials that fall in that “Goldilocks” midrange
To reiterate Christman’s point from before—a buyer can tell if you put in the bare minimum, and they don’t want to pay top dollar for a new roof they didn’t even pick out.
Stick to midrange and be sure the materials match the other homes around your neighborhood. Also consider new roofing as a way to invest in your home’s insulation and energy efficiency—both features that matter to buyers.
3. Check on your roof frequently and keep up with necessary maintenance
Be sure you maintain the roof between the time you replace it and the time you sell your home. Jari Marjanen, roofer of RENCO Roofing in Phoenix, Arizona, who has 37 years of experience in the roofing business, says to check the roof after every storm.
It’s much easier to examine the roof for missing or broken shingles regularly than it is to deal with the water damage of several combined storms.
4. Pump up your marketing materials to show off your new roof as an asset
You and your agent might decide, after a new roof goes on, not to change the listing price of your home.
This is a personal decision based on your specific house in your specific area. However, since you’re competing with all the other homes in your area, whatever you can do to make your home stand out helps. Tell the world you have a new roof!
A buyer will love that they don’t have to move in and then spend several thousand dollars more to put on a new roof. A good agent will make sure potential buyers know about this new roof and the conveniences that come with it.
5. Offer to transfer the roof warranty to the buyer as a selling point
Christman tells the story about a couple who bought a home with a new roof. When they went to sell the home just a year later, they had to make repairs to the roof. Because they were not the original owners of the roof, the warranty had not transferred and they were on the hook for all those repair expenses. These expenses could have been easily avoided.
Most roofing companies offer transferable warranties. It’s just a matter of calling and paying a nominal charge. Many buyers don’t think to ask.
Offer this transfer to your buyer. It’s just a few hundred dollars and having several more years of warranty on a roof could be what clinches the deal.
The question of whether you should replace your roof before selling is hard to answer. It will increase the value of your home, though it may not be as much or in the ways you’d most like. Your best bet is to find a real estate agent in your local area who can help you make the right decision.