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Why protection is a great idea

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This time last year I was in the process of purchasing a home after years of being “a renter.” My landlord had just given me a friendly ultimatum: Buy the house we were currently living or move by the end of May so he could sell it. I didn’t want to inherit all the costly repairs I knew we’d have to face if we stayed there, so we looked for a home we could call our own that was in better shape than the one we were leaving.

As a single mother with three children, renting had been both a blessing and a curse I had to live with. The downside was that nearly every time I moved into a rental property the landlord wanted to sell it. (This happened with my last three rentals.) I embraced the fact that I was not financially responsible for any major repairs, but knowing that moving day could be just around the corner was always on my mind. Renting a house was like a security blanket that could be ripped away at any moment.

I did my research before buying a home, but I made a few freshman mistakes along the way. I felt a little stressed because I knew I had a budget, and I knew I had a deadline. The biggest mistake I made was trusting the kind voice of the seller as she walked us through her house and talked about repairs she and her husband were in the process of making. The moment my children and I walked into the house, we knew we had to have it: older home, beautiful wooden floors, more space to live in, and an above-ground pool in the backyard. Going against everything I knew about buying a house, I let my exuberance show. She knew we were already sold.

As we edged closer to the closing date, the seller emphasized that she would make numerous repairs, clean the pool until it was “sparkling clean,” and replace a door in the hallway. As we walked through the house, there was a repairman outside working on a project. With all kind testimonials from my soon-to-be new neighbors, I had no reason to doubt her word. Boy, did I learn my lesson. Once the ink dried, the repairman left and her promises were obsolete. Without a signed agreement, I was left with nothing but an older home that needed more repairs than I originally realized.

One positive step that I made was to purchase a home warranty. A home warranty covers certain repair costs to the home such as heating and cooling systems, plumbing, appliances, and pool/spa repairs, just to name a few. Like an insurance policy you pay a premium. Fees vary depending on what type of plan you invest in. Then, when you need a repair, you pay a small service fee and the home warranty company covers the rest.

Recently, I learned just how smart I was to buy my warranty. In a short period of time my plumbing fell apart underneath my kitchen sink, the dryer lost heat, the oven stopped working, my refrigerator had an issue with the ice maker, my bathroom sink started leaking, the bathtub backed up, and the gutters fell off my house after some turbulent weather. Most of these problems happened within the same week!

Fortunately, my home warranty covers most of these issues. For a $55 service fee (per problem), a professional service agent comes to my home and takes care of the problem. (Although the gutters weren’t covered, a good Samaritan secured them back to my house for free!)

Unless you’re a Jill of all trades, a home warranty is a great investment. I know that I’ve already recovered the price of my plan. Check around and compare rates. Some warranties offer monthly payment plans while others require quarterly payments or payment in full.

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