Homeowners thinking about selling their home face a tough question – do you invest in improving the home or sell it as-is? While there are many articles and blog posts that list what you can do to increase the value of your home or make it more appealing to potential buyers, few talk about the heart of your home – the HVAC system.

Many homeowners don’t realize that the condition of their HVAC system can easily delay closing the deal or derail the sale altogether. Today we’ll look at a potential buyer’s expectations and what you can do to keep your HVAC home inspection for sale of home from going off the rails.

What Buyers Look for in an HVAC System

To be honest, most buyers don’t take a second look at the system unless it is already 10-12 years old. It typically shows up on a potential buyer’s radar during the home inspection. This is because most home inspectors will provide a visual inspection and warranty the system with the caveat that an inspection from an experienced HVAC contractor is recommended. As the HVAC system is one of the most expensive systems in the home, many buyers take this recommendation seriously and request an HVAC inspection for sale of home. This will offer a more detailed report on the health of the system.

What Happens During an HVAC Home Inspection for Sale of Home?

During the HVAC inspection for sale of home, an HVAC contractor will perform a standard maintenance and issue a written review or report on the overall health of the system. The inspection typically takes 45 – 60 minutes per piece of equipment. The final report typically gives the system one of the following ratings:

• System Is In Good Working Order: Typical of new, well-installed HVAC systems.
• System Requires Repairs: Worn parts or a poor installation may need to be corrected.
• System Requires Replacement: Although not a common finding, a cracked heat exchanger on a furnace or extensive repairs may justify or require immediate system replacement.

HVAC Home Inspection Report: Repair or Replace?

When it comes to the sale of a home, the “honey do list” can end up going for pages and pages. With so many other projects competing for your attention (and budget), you may be wondering whether it makes more sense to repair the existing HVAC system or to have it replaced entirely.

From an investment perspective, it’s best to keep the existing unit unless it is not working at all. In most cases, you will only recoup about 35-50% of the initial cost of a new system in your sales price. But selling a home also involves negotiation and salesmanship. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how replacing an older system could help to grab a buyer’s interest. If it brings in the right buyer, that investment could well be worth it.

Of course, making a repair is almost always cheaper than replacing the HVAC system entirely. Even so, it’s important to remember that most buyers use the age of the system to determine its worth. This means that a potential buyer might try to negotiate the price down to make up for an older unit. In this case, you might find yourself having paid for the repair while still having to accept a lower bid for your home. The circumstances of every home sale are unique and communication between buyer and seller is crucial.

Here are a few questions to help you determine if you’re better off replacing the system entirely or just having it fully maintained and repaired:

• How old is the unit? If the HVAC system is more than 10 years old, fixing it may not be enough to grab a buyer’s attention. Although the replacement cost will be higher, it should be easier to sell your home with a newer unit.

• How expensive are the repairs? Some repairs are quick, easy and inexpensive while others can be extensive. Before deciding to make the repair, evaluate the cost of the replacement. Given the other factors, upgrading to a newer, more efficient unit may offset the cost of having the unit installed when it comes time to accept an offer and close the sale.

• If it uses refrigerant, what type does it use? In January 2010, the United States began phasing out R-22. Used in air conditioner and heat pumps installed before 2010, R-22 will be nearly impossible to find after 2020. While most homeowners (and soon to be homeowners) are unaware of the phase-out, an informed buyer could try to use this knowledge as a negotiation technique.

• How does your current HVAC system compare to other homes in the area? If you have a 10-year old furnace while the other homes listed in your area or price bracket have new systems, you may want to upgrade the system.

• What are the expectations of your buyers? People looking at homes above a certain price range have different needs and desires than those looking for fixer-uppers. If your home has been fully renovated but the HVAC system still needs to be replaced, buyers looking for a no-hassle purchase will not be interested. If your home is a fixer-upper that needs work in several areas, then an older HVAC system may not be a sticking point.

How to Keep Your HVAC System from Stopping the Sale

The best way to keep your HVAC system from hindering the sale of your home is to be proactive. Before putting your house on the market, have an HVAC Home Sale Inspection performed by a licensed and experienced contractor. This will give you an accurate picture of the health of your HVAC system and will prevent any unpleasant surprises from popping up at inconvenient times.

If the inspection reveals any problems, a homeowner has three options: repair it, replace it or disclose the problem to potential buyers with the note that it is being sold “as is”. Selling as-is allows you to set a price based on the condition of the home, adjusting that price as you see fit based on the differences between a newly upgraded system, a decent system in good health or a system that needs to be repaired or replaced.

If the inspection finds the system to be in good working order, you can use this information in the listing as an additional selling point. On the other hand, if the buyer makes the age or health of the system an issue, you can refer to the already completed report and let them know that the HVAC system’s condition was factored in when you set the price.

Properly preparing your home for sale can make a monumental difference when it comes to the price you get and the speed of sale. The truth is that some buyers are easily scared away and others are not. You don’t know what type of buyer has made an offer on your house, and you don’t want to risk losing the sale. Finding a ready, willing and able buyer to pay the price you are asking is not always an easy task – even in today’s competitive real estate market.

If you’ve got your home on the market already or are considering listing it for sale, call Lifetime Heating & Air Conditioning at (425) 553-4328 to schedule the HVAC Home Sale Inspection. Our experienced technicians will provide you with a detailed report on the overall health of your system. If a problem is detected, repairs can often be made same day, keeping the sale of your home on track.