Should You Replace Your Roof Before Selling Your House?

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated September 11, 2015
The exterior of a house with a gray roof and a driveway
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

It can be expensive to replace the roof, but it could pay off with higher priced-offers at resale

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“The roof of a house isn’t that important,” said no one ever. “Should I replace the roof before selling my home?” on the other hand, is what many homeowners are likely thinking—and stressing about—instead. 

You might not be willing to part with any more money than you have to when selling your home, especially if you are in the process of buying another, which might have roof problems of its own. But there is value to be gained in resale if you repair or replace your roof. Let’s take a closer look at the details:

How Much Does a New Roof Cost?

A new roof costs around $25,000, though it could range between $5,000 and $45,000 depending on the square footage, material, and what type of home you own

The price of a roofing project is split about 40% for materials and 60% for labor. It makes sense that a big home has a large roof area and will end up on the higher end of this price range, whereas a smaller home with a smaller roof area will cost less.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

A roof can last for decades, depending on the materials used. Asphalt, one of the more popular roofing options, can last between 15 and 30 years. Metal roofs, which are used more for commercial buildings than homes, can last upwards of 40 years.

Regardless of the materials used, your roof’s life could be shortened by the weather conditions in your area. If you live in a wet climate, constant downpours can take their toll on your home’s exterior. The same goes for winters in the north and northeast, where roofs have to stand up to a heavy blanket of snow for months at a time.

A New Roof Is a Selling Point for Homebuyers

You might think that home buyers are all about granite countertops in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances, and other high-end finishes throughout the home. And it is true that those features do matter quite a bit. But what matters even more is that the structure of the house is solid and intact—and that includes a roof that’s in good condition.

That’s not exactly small change, and it’s certainly not the type of money you’re looking to spend on what will soon be your former home. But there’s good news: According to the 2019 Remodeling Cost vs. Value report, you can recoup about 60% of your investment on asphalt roof shingle replacement. And here’s something to sweeten the deal even more: Buyers will be more willing to pay full price—or higher—for a home with a new roof. 

It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to dive into an extensive home improvement project on a house that you’re currently packing up to leave. But if you’ve got roof shingles flapping in the breeze, know that savvy home buyers will do their best to negotiate a lower price. 

Repairing vs. Replacing Your Roof

A worker repairing a roof
Photo: Volodymyr Shevchuk / Adobe Stock

The average cost of roof repairs is $550. That’s a far cry from the $8,500 it takes for a whole new one. If you’re thinking of redoing your roof just because you want to change the color or a different type of shingle, you certainly can. But if you’re fine with the way your roof looks and just need to make some isolated repairs, you can hire a local roof contractor to patch things up.

Not all roofing materials are the same, which means they don’t cost the same. Repairs on a slate roof will cost around $700 to $2,500, while an asphalt roof repair will only set you back around $300 to $1,000. 

Keep in mind that even if you’ve got a leaky roof, it might not be worthy of a complete replacement. Perhaps you need some shingles or flashing replaced in some spots instead. That requires a lot less time and money to fix, though it’s worth it to hire a pro to do a roof inspection and tell you exactly what needs to be done.

Warning Signs That You Need to Fix or Replace Your Roof

It goes without saying—but it’s our job to say it anyway—that if you can see daylight coming in through your roof, it’s time to get it replaced. But even if your roof is not nearly as damaged as that, it might be high time to call a roof professional for an expert opinion.

Here are some other common reasons it’s time to repair or replace your roof:

Your Roof Is Old

Again, a roof is the workhorse of your home. But if it’s starting to look worse for wear and patch jobs just aren’t cutting it, it might be time to renew it. While this will sting if you’re getting ready to list your home, know that buyers will appreciate it. If you’re not willing to do it, know that buyers might price their offers accordingly.

The Shingles Are Damaged

If you’ve got a few shingles that are curling, buckling, or just plain missing, you can have them replaced. But if you find you’ve got more damaged shingles than good shingles, it’s time to call around for some roofing replacement estimates.

It’s Raining in Your House

If you need an umbrella in your own home, damaged flashing could be the culprit. Flashing is the thin metal material underneath your shingles that prevents water from getting in. If you’re seeing leaks inside your home, this could be the culprit. Know that a single trickle might not result in needing a whole new roof, but if you’ve got buckets catching drips throughout the house, it might be.

A roof can hold up to regular, even heavy downpour. But in the case of hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy snowfall, older roofs can run into issues. If you see wet spots on your ceiling or see stains where the ceiling might once have been wet, get your roof inspected.

Homeowners who are looking to list their homes should also be looking at their roofs. If it is old or there are visible signs of damage, it’s time to replace it or at least do some repairs. Buyers will be more willing to pay full price or even higher for your home when they have peace of mind that the roof will protect their investment for years to come.

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