A Roof Certification Can Help You Sell Your Home

Roof Certification
••• © Big Stock Photo

When considering putting your house on the market, you should acknowledge the importance of the roof's condition. Traditionally, lenders have required home buyers to have the roof of the home they are looking at inspected for loan approval. However, financial institutions are beginning to require that a roof be certified by a professionally trained roofing inspector to approve home loans.

If you're considering purchasing or selling a home, you might want to learn about roof certifications and how they can affect a home purchase or sale.

What Is a Roof Certification?

A roof certification is an inspection that lets you know the condition a roof is in and gives you an estimation of the remaining life of the roof. They are not typically included in a regular home inspection—they're not always stipulated in purchase contracts, either.

Some cities have Truth-in-Housing guidelines and regulations governing repairs before resale. Some city regulations do not require that sellers replace failing roofs. Be sure to check the rules for the location in which you're selling.

Roof certifications are separate from a home inspection. Home inspectors do not perform certifications unless they are certified, authorized and paid to do so. Instead, many roofing inspectors climb up on the roof and issue reports on:

  • Missing or loose roofing materials
  • Overall condition of roofing materials
  • Ridges, caps and drip edges
  • The soundness of drains, downspouts, and gutters
  • Flashing around roof pipes, chimneys, vents, valleys and mounting of HVAC units

A roofing certification company inspects a roof with the same criteria and checks other items that affect the roof's life (as well as your pocketbook).

If the roof does not require repairs, the roofing company will estimate its remaining life and certify its condition. The certification is good for two to five years, depending on local customs.

If the roof does require repairs, the roofing company will issue the certificate after it is repaired. If you have a roof warranty, be sure to get any damages repaired while it's in effect.

Why are Roof Certifications Done?

The purpose of a roof certification is to:

  • Inform the lender and buyer about the condition of the roof
  • Disclose its remaining life expectancy
  • Identify necessary repairs

Many realtors advise their clients to provide a roof certification to a buyer to assure its condition. If the sellers refuse to provide a roof certification and the roof is older, home buyers might decide to pay for their inspection and make damage or repairs needed a contingency of the sales contract.

A home buyer might be stuck choosing between two houses—if one provides a roof certification and the other doesn't, the one with the certificate might be more attractive to a buyer.

Who Needs a Roof Certification?

The need to obtain a roof certification is driven by who the real estate market favors at the moment. A seller's market is when prices rise due to a decrease in the number of available houses, and a buyer's market has too many homes in supply—causing prices to drop.

A roof certification is neither a guarantee nor a warranty. It is a roofing professional's opinion on the condition of the roof. The certificate is then used by lenders and in real-estate transactions.

When selling your home, you should consider investigating buyer trends (concerning roof certification) and read the regulations in your area regarding the obligation sellers have. In a seller's market, the roof condition might not matter; buyers could be so desperate for a home, they might purchase a home that needs significant roof repairs.

During market fluctuations, and often in seller's markets, a roof certification is not a buyer demand. In a buyer's market, it might be something buyers want to see in a sale. Your realtor should be able to tell you which way the market is trending.

Factors That Influence Roof Certifications

When assessing your roof's condition, the inspector will consider the type, age, pitch, layers and previous repairs. Common types of roofing materials are:

  • Composition shingle
  • Wood shake
  • Clay or concrete tile
  • Slate
  • Metal or steel
  • Tar and gravel
  • Synthetic

Roofing companies say that wood shakes often require more repairs if they are older than 10 years. Conversely, tile roofs can last 50 years, as long as nobody has walked on them (causing cracks or breaking the tiles). Composition shingle roofs are often warranted for 20 to 40 years, depending on the material's quality.

Although not all states require seller disclosures, many roofing companies will refuse to certify a roof if a seller does not disclose previous repairs. Roof certification inspectors will want to examine a previous repair to ensure it was done correctly and won't cause further problems.

Most roofing companies will not honor claims due to natural disasters or severe weather—only problems that have been caused by faulty work on their part. The conditions most companies will not include on a workmanship warranty are damage from high winds, foot traffic or improperly installed skylights or solar panels.

Natural disasters are generally covered by either a homeowner's insurance policy or a flood insurance policy. If a weather event has damaged your roof, be sure to contact your home insurance provider.