Agent

How warranties have saved my buyers thousands — and added to my agent value

Knowing how to best cover clients alleviates their home frustrations

Yesterday, I got a phone call from a buyer client of mine whom I helped to close on a home about three weeks ago. He opened the conversation by asking me if I was there at the home inspection (he was out of the state at the time).

Then he wanted to know if the home inspector I recommended tested all the vents up and down to see if the furnace worked, and why wasn’t the air conditioner tested? He then said he had an air compressor out, and it was going to cost $2,000.

I always love those types of phone calls — seriously. Why? It always allows me to reaffirm to that past client that I took care of them. To begin with, I went back to the home inspection while we were on the phone together, and during the inspection the inspector noted that the heat blew out of the vents right at 100 degrees.

This note was within acceptable standards, and there were no derogatory comments made. You should know, this is an inspector I have used for years, and I know him to be utterly thorough on the details. I then reconfirmed with my buyer that the air conditioning was not tested on that day due to temperatures, which were in the “teens.”

I have seen one thing make clients post-sale happy by reducing expenses after closing day, and that one tool is a home warranty.

In this case, the seller from whom my buyer purchased the house had an existing warranty on the property. That scenario is best. When the situation involves a new warranty, originating and paid for at the closing table, it’s easier for the warranty company to scream “pre-existing condition” in an effort to avoid paying for an air compressor — even just three weeks after closing.

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I reminded him of the fact that we had a warranty on the property and encouraged him to give them a call first before doing anything. He said, “Yeah, I already called them, and for a $60 fee they are replacing it for me.”

How funny. The conversation started out with a significant concern that was acknowledged as no problem at the end of the same call because of a home warranty.

Last year, I had another sale where we had negotiated a warranty as part of the sale. This one was a bit different. It was an HSA home warranty. HSA has the ability to go ahead and put the house under warranty when it is listed on the MLS, with the agreement that the warranty will be paid for at closing at the time — they cover the house throughout the process.

In this sale, again acting as a buyer’s agent, I got a call from the listing agent the day before closing letting me know, once again, that an air compressor had failed. HSA stepped in, committed to fixing the issue on a warranty they had not even been paid for yet, and the commitment of them making the repairs and replacing the air compressor allowed closing on time.

The seller was happy, my buyer had peace of mind — and that is what we are seeking at every closing as agents, isn’t it? Happy clients?

On another recent sale, this time as a listing agent, I had used an HSA warranty during the listing. During due diligence, my seller was out of town because he was relocating for employment about 800 miles away. The buyer had concerns over half a dozen issues upon inspection.

Instead of the buyer having to be there to watch over multiple contractors and bid out work, the warranty company was able to cover most of the repairs, saving him hundreds of dollars and time. They also helped ensure that closing happened on time, without a hitch.

I have seen it over and over again on both sides of the sale, including mechanical, plumbing and appliances — they can stop working any time. I had an inspection just recently where the inspector said that just because it was raining the day of the inspection, he was able to see two roof leaks. What if it had been a dry day? He might not have noticed them. After the closing, if that buyer had a warranty with roof leak protection built in, some of those frustrations could have been alleviated.

I’m not saying that there aren’t problems, and I am not saying that all warranties and companies are good and noble in their pursuit of making people happy. However, I’d rather have a warranty in the contract than not at all. It has saved my clients thousands of dollars over the years.

Final story: About two years ago, I had a client who had owned their home for a little over a year after buying it through me. They called me one steamy summer Friday night in Georgia to say the air conditioner went out with a new baby at home, and the temperature made it unbearable.

I called my regional representative with HSA, Tammy Dale, that weekend, and she had their local service company take care of the issue within 48 hours. The only lag time there was involved getting parts over the weekend.

That made this past client of mine a “referral superstar” for me, because on social media and by word of mouth they told everyone I took care of a problem they had a year after the sale.

That’s when we build our business: when past clients see us there for them over the long haul.

Hank Bailey is an associate broker and Realtor at Re/Max Legends. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Hank Bailey.