Buying a home is the most significant investment that most people will make in their lifetimes. It can also be the scariest as well, especially if you’re buying a house that needs renovations. While most home warranties will not cover existing pre-existing problems, some companies like AHS home warranty will cover them no matter their age.
Are Home Warranties Necessary?
Having a home warranty on a new or older home isn’t a necessity, but it can save homeowners hundreds of dollars if a system or major appliance malfunctions or fails. However, owners of homes that have just been built may not need them for at least the first year they own the house.
Many major appliances will have warranties for at least 12 months, if not more if the buyer purchases warranty extensions. The systems in a house, such as the plumbing and electrical, should have some type of limited warranties for at least the first year they own the home. While some builders provide the warranties on their homes, they may also buy coverage from a home warranty company.
Getting a warranty on an older home can be more challenging as there usually isn’t any coverage on it unless the appliances are new or there have been recent system replacements. To buy a home warranty for an older house, most companies require an inspection. If problems are found with any systems in the house, such as the electrical or plumbing systems, then they won’t be eligible for coverage.
However, if the systems are new or in good condition, then a home warranty may cover them. A home warranty not only benefits homeowners, but it can benefit home sellers as well. Most companies offer sellers’ protection while the house is on the market. If any systems, appliances, or other items with protection under the plan malfunctions, service providers will repair or replace them.
This protection allows the seller to let buyers know the house is in excellent condition because otherwise, it wouldn’t be eligible for most home warranty plans. A home seller’s warranty plan lasts 12 months or until the house sells to a new owner. Most home buyer plans also last 12 months and are eligible for renewal every year. So, while a home warranty isn’t necessary, it can be a great benefit for buyers and sellers.
What is AHS Home Warranty and How Does it Work?
An AHS home warranty is from the company American Home Shield (AHS) out of Memphis, Tennessee. They have been in business for over 45 years offering home warranties to homeowners and sellers. They offer plans across the United States, so whether you have a home in San Francisco or Kansas City, you can get the coverage you need to protect your investment.
The warranty company is a subsidiary of ServiceMaster Global Holdings, which also owns Terminix, Merry Maids, ServiceMaster, and Furniture Medic, among other businesses. AHS owns these other home warranty businesses: HSA Home Warranty, Landmark Home Warranty, and OneGuard Home Warranty.
So, AHS has almost two million customers in all 50 states with a network of about 14,000 contractors that can make repairs or replace systems and appliances when they malfunction or fail.
AHS offers four plans to homeowners:
The company also offers plans to real estate agents to promote and sell to home buyers and home sellers for coverage for their houses. These plans are:
What Makes AHS Unique?
Although many companies offer home warranties to homeowners and sellers, AHS offers what other companies do not, which is coverage for older homes without an inspection. Other warranty companies will inspect older homes for problems with systems in the house and, if they are in poor condition or are not up to code, they won’t provide a warranty for them.
American Home Shield does not require home inspections, but they still provide coverage for older houses if something needs repairs or replacement. The only catch for coverage for appliances is that the repair is due to regular wear and tear, not customer abuse.
In addition, the house under warranty can be a rental property and not the residence of the homeowner. So, if you have a house that you rent to make additional income, then you can buy a home warranty to cover the house’s systems, appliances, and other items and have AHS arrange for repairs if something breaks down.
The pricing for AHS plans is not readily available online because you need to ask for a quote before finding how much you will pay for them. The price for the plans are contingent on where you live, so you must include your address and zip code to determine the cost of the plan you want.
Where other warranty company’s plans have two payment options, a yearly fee or monthly installment payments, AHS only offers monthly payments. So, if you live in San Francisco, the pricing for homeowner’s plans are $29.99 per month for the System and Appliances plans. For the Combo Plan it is $39.99 a month and the Build Your Own Plan is $34.99 per month.
If you live in Kansas, you pay slightly more for the homeowner’s plans. The Systems and Appliance Plans are $39.99, the Combo Plan is $49.99, and the Build Your Own Plan is $44.99 per month. The pricing for the plans also depends on what the service fee is when contractors show up to make repairs or replace appliances or systems.
This price quote, for both San Francisco and Kansas, is for $100 service fees, or deductibles. If you pay a $75 service call fee, then the cost of each plan goes up to $10 a month. If you choose the $125 service fee, the price is $5 less than the $100 service fee plans for homes in both locations.
These plans offer optional add-ons at reasonable prices, which are much lower than some other companies’ plans. If you have a home spa or swimming pool, you pay an additional $13.33 per month for coverage. A guest unit would be an additional $13.99 per month, a septic system $2.50, and well pumps are $7.08 per month.
Real Estate Plans Costs
The cost for the buyer’s Real Estate Plans also depend on the location of the house, but the charge is a lump sum amount, not a monthly installment. For the ShieldEssential Plan, the cost is a one-time payment of $460 for a house in Kansas, the ShieldPlus is $610, and the ShieldComplete is $680.
If there are add-ons, like a guest unit, swimming pool or additional refrigeration, these prices range from $15 to $220. The service fee for these plans is $75 per service call. The term on the plans is for one year. For seller’s the additional fee for listing coverage is $60.
Buyer’s plans for a house in San Francisco cost $325 for the ShieldEssential, $470 for the ShieldPlus, and $515 for the ShieldComplete. The service fee is also $75 per service call, and the add-on prices range from $15 to $240. For seller’s, the additional fees are 81 cents per square foot for a house with less than 5,000 square feet and an air conditioner or 56 cents without an air conditioner.
For homes over 5K square feet, the cost with an air conditioner is $1.60 per square foot or without air conditioning, it is $1.14 per square foot These costs also have a $75 service fee.
American Home Shield has a favorable reputation from buyers of their plans and expert reviewers. They also have an accredited rating of B by the Better Business Bureau. There have been complaints made about the company, but they are usually about their service contractors.
Although AHS claims they only use the best contractors, some customers complain the service contractors charge the service fee but don’t do a good job on the repair or replacement of systems or appliances, or they don’t do any work at all. Customers end up paying a service fee of at least $75 every time someone answers the call to their homes.
Many consumers complained about the company’s customer service being rude or not acting on their problems in a timely manner.
Several other complaints were about the service contractors not being able to fix problems after coming out to evaluate them or not getting the information necessary to replace systems or appliances that no longer work.
However, another site on which consumers can write reviews gives the home warranty company four stars. Consumeraffairs.com has almost 11,000 reviews of American Home Shield, with most of them being four or five stars. There are nearly 1,100 one-star ratings, with most of the complaints being about not having appliance coverage or service contractors being slow to schedule appointments.
How It Compares
While several companies offer home warranty plans for buyers and sellers, the main competition for AHS is Select Home Warranty. They also provide homeowners, buyers, and sellers plans for homes across the country. Other companies only offer plans regionally or in less than half of the 50 states.
Select Home Warranty offers three homeowners plans, the Platinum Care, Gold Care, and Bronze Care plans. The Platinum Care offers service on systems and appliances, including ceiling fans. It costs $499.99 per year or $42 per month.
The Gold Care plan is for systems like plumbing, AC, heating, and the electrical system for $429.99 per year or $36 per month. Their Bronze Care plan is the same price for appliance coverage. They offer additional coverage for items like swimming pools, well and sump pumps, and central vacuum systems with costs ranging from $39.99 to $99.99. Their add-on options are more expensive than those of AHS.
These prices are for homes in Kansas. If they don’t offer services in a city or state, they will refer you to a company that does. So, AHS offers less expensive coverage in all 50 states, but their competitors may not, which could be inconvenient for homeowner’s who are moving and want to transfer coverage, if possible.
Some of the AHS plans are transferable, so customers can take them with them after they move.
What We Think
An AHS home warranty is good coverage to have, especially for older homes, because you don’t know when a system or an appliance will fail. Instead of needing to pay for a plan in one lump sum every year, you can make easy installment payments each month. Also, if something does go wrong, you don’t need to pay to repair or replace it out of pocket.
You can arrange for a service contractor to visit your house to repair or replace the problem and only pay a service fee of $75, $100 or $125. AHS home warranty has a good reputation, so we recommend getting a home warranty from their company if you want coverage on your new or “new to you” house.