KeyPath Property Solutions Blog

This blog is to provide educational information for both homeowners and investors.

Replacing Or Repairing Appliances To Sell A House

When buying property as an investment—whether to rent or sell—the first question many investors have is whether the existing appliances should be replaced or repaired. There is no easy answer, investors and house flippers need to take various factors into account. Should you automatically replace appliances to sell a house? Should you replace old appliances with energy efficient ones? Is it better to just repair existing appliances and let the future homeowner decide to buy new ones?

old microwaveSince you most likely won’t have access to the purchase records and the previous owners may not have good memories on when appliances were bought, it can sometimes be hard to know how old appliances are when purchasing an investment property. Sometimes the answer can be obvious through the style or color of the model, but Internet research can help as well. Looking up appliance model numbers and energy star ratings can often help find the year of manufacture. Sites like Appliance 411 can give you information from just an appliance’s serial number and a few simple questions.

How Old is too Old?

An appliance may be working just fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. One of the first things you need to do is determine whether the age of the appliance means it should be fixed or replaced. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors provides the following estimates for how long common household appliances last:

    •    Gas or Electric Ranges: 13 to 17 years

    •    Washing machines: 5 to 15 years

    •    Dryers: 13 years

    •    Dishwasher: 9 years

    •    Refrigerators: 9 to 13 years

    •    Freezers: 10 to 20 years

    •    Microwave Ovens: 9 years

    •    Food Waste Disposals: 12 years

Warning Signs

But age isn’t the only thing to determine if appliances need repaired or replaced. The following are warning signs to watch for in appliances:

    •    Refrigerators and freezers: Motor running constantly, strange noises or leaking water.
    •   Ranges: Bake and broil units don’t heat up, gas burners don’t light, thermostat doesn’t work correctly.

    •    Dishwashers: Noisy or grinding motor, dishes coming out dirty, banging sounds (caused by the failure of the water intake valve).

    •    Washing machines: Excessive leaking, water doesn’t fill the drum, the washer moves when it’s running, unusual noise from the motor or drum.

    •    Dryers: The drum won’t spin, the dryer overheats or burns clothes, clothes take longer to dry or don’t dry at all.


Should you Replace or Repair Appliances?

appliance repairSometimes, of course, your appliances don’t need replaced, but can simply be repaired. When should you repair appliances? The general rule is that if the repair will be less than half the cost of a new model, it will usually make sense to repair your appliance instead of replacing it.

If you know or discover that the product is still under manufacturer’s warranty, always use a factory-authorized repair shop. This may seem obvious, but it's often overlooked when it comes to appliance repair. If you try to do it yourself or hire an outside company you risk voiding the warranty of the appliance. Read the owners manual to find through the terms and conditions of your warranty. If you don't have one, you can usually find the document online by searching under the make and model of your product. Most appliances are covered for repair between one and two years, but some parts of an appliance will be covered much longer, so it's definitely worth a look.

What other factors can you take into consideration? Common appliance problems that can be affordably repaired include washing machines or dishwashers clogged with too much residual soap or refrigerators, freezers and ovens in need of new fan motors, belts or electronic controls.

More extensive repairs that might signify replacement is a better idea include issues with the refrigerant system or compressor with fridges, or broken motors on washers and dryers. Don’t forget to consider any costs for appliance removal, installation and disposal.

If you don't know a reliable appliance repair professional, you can always check with friends, associates or online review services to get recommendations. Don’t forget to check how long the company has been in business and how much inventory its workers carry on trucks, as well as how quickly a technician can be sent out.

Another reason you may want to replace appliances is for aesthetic purposes. Potential buyers are usually quick to notice when appliance colors or styles--such as a white stove and a black refrigerator--don’t match. If you are flipping more than one house and the appliance you are switching out is still in working order, it can often be saved for another property. If you can afford the currently fashionable stainless steel appliances, you may even see a better return on your investment, especially in a kitchen rehab.

How much is too much?

Sometimes you may have to do a repair yourself or decide not to replace working appliances due to a limited budget. If you have to choose to replace the HVAC system, roof or windows instead of buying a large capacity washer and dryer set, then you should do so. Buyers know that replacing major items like roofs and HVAC systems can be both time-consuming and expensive. Mismatched or missing appliances can be used as a bargaining chip in the selling process, while a new HVAC system or windows will automatically add value to your property.

Should you DIY?

If you are comfortable with tools, you may be able to save money by making simple appliance repairs yourself. YouTube has lots of DIY repair videos, and user manuals can help you troubleshoot. Many local hardware stores teach classes on simple appliance repair. If there isn’t a manual search online for the term “manual” along with your appliance model number and brand. Most manufacturers provide free downloadable PDFs of appliance manuals, and there are several online sites that contain nothing but manuals. Or visit your local library to see what general repair literature that they may have.

How to Calculate Whether Energy Efficiency is Cost Effective

calculate energy efficiencyWe all heard that new water-saving and energy-efficient appliances can be cost effective, but are they always? Is there an energy saving replacing old appliances? A modern refrigerator, for instance, uses roughly half the electricity of one that was built 15 years ago and is usually a good investment. But automatically replacing less energy-efficient models that still have miles left on them may not always be the best idea. Replace a four-year-old dishwasher with a new energy efficient model, you’re not likely to see any significant savings because it represents only a small portion of the overall energy usage. Sites like www.energystar.gov can help you calculate savings before you decide to go out and buy a new appliance.

Hidden Costs

It important to remember that the cost of replacing an appliance may include more than just the price of the appliance itself. In fact, the price tag could be the least of the money you’ll spend to upgrade an appliance. Replacing an old appliance may come with some hidden costs you forget to take into consideration.

Your new appliance may not fit into the old spot. You may have to go to the expense of modifying cabinets to fit a new appliance, so be sure that you measure the space accurately and not just the appliance. Gas ovens and ranges tend to be more energy efficient, but they will only save money if you already have a gas line connected to the property. If not, you could spend thousands bringing a gas line into a home or hundreds rerouting the existing gas lines. Upgrading from a simple refrigerator or gas range or to one with all the bells and whistles may require upgrading or adding electrical circuits or wiring.

Whether you decide to DIY or replace existing appliances, remember to weigh the pros and cons of each choice including the original appliance age, replacement costs, your own DIY skills and what you plan on doing with the property for the long term.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

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KeyPath Property Solutions LLC does not give legal, tax, economic, or investment advice. KeyPath Property Solutions LLC disclaims all liability for the action or inaction taken or not taken as a result of communications from or to its members, officers, directors, employees and contractors. Each person should consult their own counsel, accountant and other advisors as to legal, tax, economic, investment, and related matters concerning Real Estate and other investments. Read Full Disclaimer.

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