Should You Replace the Roof Before Selling Your House? Here's How to Decide

Steve Nicastro

By 

Steve Nicastro

March 14th, 2022
Updated March 14th, 2022

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✍️ Editor's Note: I'm a licensed real estate agent and investor in South Carolina, where I’ve advised many sellers (including myself) on which repairs to make – and not make – before listing.

Should I replace my roof before selling?

You probably don't need to replace your roof before selling your home. It's an expensive project that doesn't add much value to your home, and it might not be necessary.

You should only consider roof replacement if your roof's condition could jeopardize your chances of selling altogether. For example, if you’re targeting buyers who might not be able (or willing) to pay for a big-ticket repair like that after closing.

Your realtor will ultimately be in the best position to advise whether you should replace or repair your roof before listing – or if you’re better off leaving it alone.

» Need help? Try Clever, get free advice from top realtors near you (today!)

This guide breaks down all the key info you need to decide if replacing your roof is worth considering – and will help you have a more informed conversation with your agent.

Summary: Replacing a roof before selling

Replacing a roof before selling a house really only makes sense if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You think your roof's poor condition will jeopardize your entire home sale, and repairs won't solve the issues.
  • Your goal is to sell at a high price and fast, and you're targeting buyers who might not have the money, or willingness, to take on a major repair after closing (like first-time or low income home buyers).
  • You can afford the costs of replacing a roof, or your roof was recently damaged in a storm and your homeowner's insurance will cover it.

But if your existing roof is in decent shape, replacing it probably isn't worth the time and hassle.

Here's why: Replacing a roof doesn't add much value to your home. You can expect to recoup about 60% of your money, meaning a $30,000 roof would only increase your sale price by $18,000.

Other repairs and improvements (like cosmetic upgrades) are cheaper and usually more appealing to potential buyers, so they carry a higher return on your investment.

It's also a crazy seller's market in most areas, and some buyers are purchasing homes in as-is condition, meaning they're accepting all the cost and hassle of necessary repairs after closing – including major ones like a new roof.

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The average Clever seller saves about $9,000 on commission fees. Your savings could offset part (or all) of the cost to repair or replace a roof – or any other pre-listing repairs you might need to make.

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How to decide if you should replace your roof: Key questions to ask

Is your roof still functional?

If your roof is older (10+ years) but in decent shape (no leaks or other issues that may surface on a home inspection, like missing shingles or a sagging roof), you probably don't need to replace it.

But if the roof is trashed and your home is in a price range where you're targeting first-time or low income buyers, it could make sense to replace it. Those buyers may not have the cash to take on this type of repair on top of the purchase.

Commonly used government financing options (like FHA or VA loans) are popular with first-time buyers, and these loans carry strict inspection requirements – so a bad roof may not pass their inspection, which would mean no loan approval and a derailed home sale.

However, it could make sense to sell your house in as-is condition and lower your sale price, depending on if you'll need to bring cash to the closing table, and the buyer demand in your housing market.

Your agent can help you decide if you should replace your roof, make roof repairs, or get a pre-listing inspection to help determine its condition.

1. Find your home's property disclosure statement: Check your closing docs from when you bought the home. The prior owner should have listed the roof's age on the property disclosure form.

2. Check for building permits: Your city or county government may have permits on file from when the previous owner last replaced the roof. Contact your local government's zoning department for help.

3. Contact the roofing company: If you know who did the work or you're able to find out, the roofer should be able to tell you when they did the job.

4. Contact your agent: Your realtor may be able to get in touch with your home's previous owner to find out about the roof's age – or at least help you locate the property disclosure statement if you can't find it.

5. Ask long-time neighbors: Your neighbors may remember seeing the roof replaced years ago and be able to give you a ballpark estimate of when the work was completed.

6. Ask a roofer to inspect and estimate: If all other methods fail, call a local roofing specialist for an inspection to estimate your roof's age and remaining useful life.

Can you afford to replace it? Typical roof costs

You shouldn’t replace the roof if you don’t have enough cash on hand to cover the job. A new roof typically costs at least $8,000, but the costs could be much higher, depending on factors like your market, the cost of roofing materials used, and size of your house.

If you don't have the cash, you may need to sell your house in as-is condition and lower its list price, accounting for the cost of a roof replacement.

If you do have the cash, it's still smart to weigh a roof replacement against other repairs or improvements. There could be more important repairs to focus on, such as your plumbing, HVAC, and electrical, or environmental issues (mold, radon gas, lead-based paint, etc).

» LEARN: Most important repairs to make before selling

💰Money hack: Insurance might actually pay for roof repairs or replacement!

If your roof was damaged in a storm, and your homeowner's insurance covers it, you should definitely replace your roof (as long as the work can be completed within your timeframe).

A brand new roof doesn't add a ton of value, but it's still a selling point for buyers – and in this case, you're getting one for the cost of your deductible (typically $500 to $2,000).

Caveats: Your homeowner's probably won't cover normal wear and tear, and older roofs may not qualify. Contact your homeowner's insurance carrier to learn more.

Do you have enough time to replace the roof?

If you’re on a tight sale timeline, replacing your roof might not be possible.

Roof replacements can take a really long time – potentially weeks, even months – due to material and labor shortages. Actual timing depends on how fast you can lock down roofers for estimates, compare quotes, and complete the work.

Bad weather can also delay roofing projects (roofers can’t work when it's raining or snowing), so consider the climate and season in your decision-making process.

Should you adjust the sale price or negotiate?

Even if you have the money and time to replace your roof, it might still make sense to negotiate or sell as-is.

Some buyers are offering to purchase homes in as-is condition, waiving home inspections and closing cost credits (even if they know a home has issues).

If your buyer's home inspector says your roof needs to be replaced, that doesn't mean you actually need to replace it. Your agent may be able to negotiate a price reduction, or closing cost credit, at less than the cost of a new roof.

Talk to your agent to see if you'd get a better outcome by replacing your old roof or waiting to negotiate with a buyer.

» LEARN: Should I fix up my house or sell it as-is?

How much value does a new roof add to a house?

Roof type
Cost
Resale
Return
Asphalt
$28,256
$17,147
60.7%
Metal
$46,031
$25,816
56.1%

Sellers typically only recoup just over half of the cost of a new roof. The returns are slightly better for asphalt roofs (60.7%) compared to metal roofs (56.1%).

But the returns on a new roof are low compared to other home improvements, including a garage door replacement (93.80%) and a minor kitchen renovation (72.2%). [1]

⚠️ Warning: Replacing a roof with solar panels costs even more!

Homeowners typically pay between $1,000 to $6,500 to remove and re-install solar panels to replace a roof – a cost which adds no value to your home.

You'll need to ask your solar company for a quote to both remove and then re-install the panels once the new roof is on, so factor this additional cost into your budget. But if your roof is functional, it's likely not worth your money or time.

» MORE: Best home improvements for resale

How roof repairs may affect your ability to sell your house

While a new roof doesn't add a ton of resale value, it could help you sell your home faster. A move-in ready home is a selling point for first-time buyers, or any buyer that isn’t willing or able to make major repairs after moving in.

Marketing your home as having a brand new roof may also help your home appeal to a larger pool of buyers, and potentially give you an edge over your competition.

A new roof also means less risk of a buyer's home inspection surfacing issues that could lead to tense negotiations – or worse, derail the entire transaction.

But we still strongly recommend you weigh a roof replacement with other repairs and improvements. If your goal is to get the highest sale price, cosmetic improvements and other repairs should provide better returns, and you probably don't need to replace a functional roof.

FAQs about replacing roofs before selling

A new roof doesn't add much value to your home compared to its cost. Expect to recoup between 56% to 60% of your investment, which means a $30,000 roof may only increase your home's sale price by a maximum of $18,000.

Whether you should replace the roof before selling depends on a number of factors, including: the roof’s age and condition, your budget, sale timeframe, and buyer demand in your local markets. Your realtor can help you decide if you should fix or replace your roof, adjust your home's list price lower, or negotiate.

Roof repairs or replacement is usually negotiable between the buyer and seller. You may be able to negotiate a lower sale price or offer a closing cost credit to the buyer, in lieu of roof replacement. However, you may have to repair or replace your roof if the buyer's lender requires it for loan approval. Ask your agent for their advice or learn how to find a realtor for help.

Which repairs to make (or not make) before selling really depends on your home's condition. But it's smart to focus on the things that cost the least, add the most value, and help you sell faster. Your realtor will be in the best position to advise you on the most important things to fix before selling.

» JUMP: Back to the top

ARTICLE SOURCES
[1]

Remodeling Magazine. "Remodeling's 2021 Cost vs. Value Report." Accessed March 09, 2022.

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