- Most complete coverage for appliances
- Doesn’t charge for a second visit within 60 days for the same repair
- Covers a lot of auxiliary systems, like central vacuums and doorbells
In Virginia, the number of people purchasing a home is on the rise while the number of houses on the market remains slim. Because of this, it can seem like a scramble just to find the right home. When you do, however, purchasing a home warranty should be the next step you take. A home warranty plan can help keep your dream home from turning into a nightmare.
If you’re a Virginia homeowner sifting through home warranty offers, keep reading. We’ve put together a comprehensive home buyer plan that looks at the best home warranty companies in the state, common home maintenance issues faced by Virginia homeowners, and important home warranty buying tips.
Virginia sits on the eastern seaboard bounded by the Chesapeake Bay on the East and the Appalachian Mountain range in the West. It’s one of two states bordering the District of Columbia—the United States seat of government. In the spring, Virginia’s beautiful flowering dogwood—aptly the state tree and floral emblem—blooms throughout the state. This Mother of States has been home to many presidents and continues to be a draw to national leaders.
Regarding real estate, Virginia’s high-demand and low-inventory situation translates to rising home prices. According to the Virginia Board of Realtors, the August 2019 median sales price in Virginia is $25,000 higher than it was three years ago. Home prices rose an average of 4% statewide from 2018 to 2019.
Virginia residents are also moving more, making the purchase of a home warranty a good idea for home buyers who may live in their homes for less time than the lifespan of existing home systems and appliances. Issues with your water heater, air conditioning, ice maker, and plumbing can get costly quickly, particularly if these major systems aren’t new. A home warranty can help you avoid thousands of dollars in replacement costs when you’re uncertain of the original condition or maintenance history of the product.
The home maintenance issues you’re most likely to find in Virginia will vary greatly by region. Three of the most popular regions in Virginia include major metropolitan areas such as the suburbs of Washington D.C., the eastern shore, and the western mountain regions of the state.
Major metropolitan areas are often the site of new builds or major remodels. Unfortunately, foundation issues, plumbing problems, and leaks can show up in a new build or in new appliances. The state requires home builders to provide a certain level of warranty on a new build, so make sure one is in place before you move into your new home. A comprehensive home warranty can be a real life-saver in this type of situation and prevent extra expenses, which can come unexpectedly on new homes after your move is complete.
Western Virginia homes can experience extreme weather events. Most homes have basements as the central hub of the HVAC, furnace, and plumbing systems. In the Roanoke area, where home inspector David Hall of MasterWork Home Inspections works, the winters can often be below freezing. In the summers, temperatures can soar to over 100 degrees. This fluctuation can be hard on roofs, guttering, and HVAC systems.
“The roof is generally the biggest ticket item, because it gets the least attention. It’s out of sight and out of mind. There might be things happening there or deterioration that no one sees,” Hall said.
In the western areas of Virginia, extra roof coverage on a home warranty could save you the expensive deductible payments required under most home insurance for similar repairs.
Temperatures on the eastern shore of Virginia tend to be much milder than the rest of the state. Residents in those areas may not experience freezing temperatures at all in a winter season. Some people are caught by surprise when the temperatures do dip and cause house systems to fail.
Austin Smith with Virginia Home Inspections, a home inspection service that services the eastern shore area, says most homes in the area have crawl spaces, rather than slabs. Crawl spaces will experience moisture and potentially draw termites, which can also cause home damage. Smith believes home warranties are a good idea for these unexpected situations.
“A home inspection hopefully gives the person a peace of mind and a look into the home they are buying, but something can fail two weeks after the house has been inspected. I think the home warranty can give the new buyer extra peace of mind,” Smith said.
Any homeowner is eligible for the purchase of a home warranty. Three common situations when a new policy is purchased include at the time of a sale, when a builder constructs a new build, and when a homeowner wants extra protection from large bills.
Home warranty coverage is similar in Virginia to other states. Here are some appliances that are typically covered:
Other systems which could be included, or potentially added on to a home warranty include:
Other items may or may not be covered in a standard home warranty plan but can be included for an additional fee. Those items include the following:
If you really want your home warranty to pay off, you’ll likely not want to choose the lowest cost product on the market or the cheapest option from any one provider. Depending on coverage, you could pay $300–$700 yearly.
Since most providers offer various levels of service, costs will vary based on the level of service you purchase. To get an idea of your total potential maintenance costs with a home warranty in place, check the level of service, identify the service call charge, and understand the maximum payouts promised.
Regardless of which home warranty company you choose, most home warranties will operate in a similar way. Here’s what you can expect if a system or appliance breaks down in your home.
If the problem reoccurs, you can call your home warranty company again. Good home warranties have an unlimited number of times you can call for service and a guarantee period on the repair, which may eliminate your need to pay another service fee.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, home warranties do not qualify as types of insurance and are not regulated in the same way as insurance. They are considered home service contracts. The coverages and costs will not have regulated standards of care, making it even more important to understand how your home warranty works.
Note: Home service contract providers have to renew licensing annually in Virginia.
A home warranty offers broader coverage than a regular home insurance policy and covers items that your insurance doesn’t. Home warranties are designed to help homeowners receive quick and reliable service on many home systems which might otherwise result in a costly repair or replacement. They also don’t carry a penalty for making calls for service.
Many home warranty companies don’t restrict the number of service calls you can request in a year. They simply require a standard fee for each call. Repairs included in your home warranty coverage will be covered under that service fee.
Most home warranty providers offer a 24/7 call line. They will honor the terms of the service contract to get a service person to your home within the warranted time frame. However, you may have to pay extra charges for having a technician come on a weekend.
This is probably not your best choice. It may be prohibited by Virginia Law, which doesn’t allow anyone to give you anything of value as an inducement to purchase an insurance policy. This would apply to the situation of an insurance policy coming as a “gift” along with your purchase of an owner’s title policy.
It’s also recommended to choose the terms of your own home warranty based on what’s best for your situation, rather than a blanket policy you may not have researched.
A home warranty will extend beyond the manufacturer’s warranty of a new appliance. It will also cover a wider variety of appliances in your home, including home systems and older appliances.
We selected American Home Shield, First American Home Warranty, Choice Home Warranty, and America’s 1st Choice Home Club as top choices for home warranties in Virginia. These companies offer flexibility, complete coverage, and extended protection choices, allowing the homeowner to find the right fit for their home. Before you buy, make a list of what concerns are primary in your home and carefully look at which parts of your appliances and home systems will be covered under the plan.
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