Although a 55-plus buyer typically is not buying their first home, the home warranty can still be a complicated and misunderstood process. The industry needs to do a better job educating consumers about home warranties.
The most common misconception, regardless of whether the buyer is experienced or not, is that everything is under warranty.
Let’s start by talking about maintenance. Realtors and home builders should make it a priority to instruct homeowners to establish a routine maintenance schedule. But how do you do it all—provide a new home, a decent warranty, and the desired maintenance-free home? Provide resources at their fingertips so they can be prepared to fix and maintain their home, regardless of how long they plan to live there. When homeowners are educated and well-versed in matters of maintenance, they are less at risk for a crisis.
Remember, home building is an art. Despite new technology, houses are still built by hand. Once your clients understand that new construction is still a human endeavor at heart, they will be more apt to take greater responsibility for the care and upkeep of their home. They’ll be more likely to keep that home warranty tucked away for serious and unexpected circumstances.
Educate your customers on their responsibilities. Everyone has a role in the production. Advise your homeowners on what to look for by walking around the exterior and pointing out important areas they need to check regularly.
● Send new homeowners email reminders and suggested contractors to get the home painted every few years.
● Hire a contractor to make routine checks on the general exterior of all the homes in your developments. Tell the homeowners when the contractor is coming and have them engage with him.
● As a safety precaution and a homeowner benefit especially attractive to the 55-plus crowd, have someone keep an eye on gutters.
● Inform your home buyers that drywall will settle and crack. The house, despite excellent construction, will acclimatize to the natural world and show it in small ways. Give homeowners access to someone who can patch and paint in these cases.
● Also educate home buyers about hardwood floors. No matter what the material, they will get scratched. Provide them with resources to maintain them.
Homeowners who have an understanding of the products — and their limitations — experience a higher level of customer satisfaction and retain a greater value on their investment. If you take the time to instruct your customers on developing a routine for home upkeep and how/when to use the home warranty, you’ll ensure a structurally sound relationship for a lifetime.
The NEXTadventure home project focuses on a low-maintenance lifestyle that suits the 55-plus buyer. Tour it during the 2017 International Builders' Show.