Imagine this. You move into your new home in the middle of winter and your furnace breaks down. The total cost to replace it is $3,500. Had you purchased a $700 home warranty, a portion of these costs would have been covered. With one call, a service provider would be sent to your home to fix it.

For buyers and sellers, home warranties may seem like an unnecessary cost, but they can make all the difference when the time comes. Unlike homeowners insurance, home warranties cover the repair or replacement of major mechanical systems and appliances (e.g., water heaters, microwaves, garage door systems) that fail due to wear, tear and age.

“From the first day buyers move in, we see on average between one to three claims within a three-month time frame,” says Gena Claxton, national account manager with Home Warranty of America (HWA).

Who is a home warranty for?

While home warranties offer value to everyone, they are ideal for busy homeowners who don’t have the experience, desire or time to fix appliances. "We cover everything from plumbing to fixtures to showerheads, and even clogs – little things that a homeowner may not know how to do,” Claxton shares.

Also, if you are a buyer who would struggle to shoulder the cost of an expensive repair, a home warranty could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars while alleviating the headache of finding a quality service provider.

If you are a seller, including a home warranty in your listing can make it more appealing to buyers and help it sell quicker at the price point you want. Plus, in many cases you will get coverage during the entire time your home is listed.

How do home warranties work?

Once an appliance stops working, you call your home warranty company and a service technician will be dispatched to assess the problem. You will pay a service fee between $50 to $125 on average for the technician to diagnose the problem and fix it, right away if possible. If it’s determined that the problem has been caused by wear and tear and falls within your coverage terms, the remainder of the cost will be covered by the home warranty company.

If you work with HWA, you have an added benefit – a VIP concierge desk accessible by your real estate agent.

“The desk is an exclusive line for real estate agents that is staffed around the clock. If you need answers on your claim quickly, your agent can call to speak with a customer service representative – they should never get a recording. The VIP concierge desk also has extended hours during peak seasons,” explains Claxton.

Before purchasing a home warranty

• Have a comprehensive understanding of what is covered with each plan and how you can maximize your benefit.

• Take a look at the appliances covered under the warranty and compare them with the age of the appliances in your home. If your appliances are toward the end of their shelf life, a home warranty may be a very good option for you. You can get started by looking at this life expectancy chart from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors

• Work with your Keller Williams agent to see if the seller would be willing to purchase the first year of the warranty during negotiations.

For more information on home warranties and home maintenance tips, visit Home Warranty of America’s online learning center. HWA is an approved vendor of Keller Williams.

Keller Williams Approved Vendor Program members are business entities independent from Keller Williams Realty, Inc. Neither Keller Williams Realty, Inc. nor its affiliated companies warrant Home Warranty of America, their products, or their services.