Representing a Buyer? Don’t Forget to Take the AC into Account

Brooke Hoyt

By Brooke Hoyt

We’ve made it through the summer heat! Hallelujah. That means, of course, it’s no longer peak AC season. But we still want to talk AC. Why? It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, the air conditioning system is an especially important home system here in the Valley. In any home purchase, it’s vital to take into account.

When you’re representing a buyer, and find yourself counseling them about a potential home purchase, we recommend that you be sure to get the full scoop on the AC unit in the home and factor it into your game plan. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the purchase and overlook this piece of the picture. Since it’s one of the priciest systems and can have a tremendous impact on potential expenses, we think it’s worth taking a bit of time on.

Assessing the State of the AC System

When considering a property, find out how old the system is and get the scoop on the overall state of the system. The home inspection should help make this clear. If the AC unit is past its prime or in poor condition, help your client understand the need to plan for significant out-of-pocket expenses. You may want to make the replacement cost a negotiating factor in the purchase, whether that’s by getting the seller to help cover the expense or by reducing your offer accordingly.

This sort of expense should be considered above and beyond the cost of a home warranty. A common misunderstanding and unrealistic expectation for home warranty coverage is that a home warranty company will immediately take on the burden of a massive expense like total replacement of an extremely aged AC unit. We want to be totally transparent – a home warranty will help reduce costs of future repairs, but is not likely to cover the entire cost of replacing an aging AC unit, so do keep that in mind.

When it comes to the AC system, it’s more appropriate to count on home warranty coverage for common wear and tear needs (e.g., repair and replacement of components like thermostats, motors, capacitors, filter dryers, fan blades, compressors, coils, boards and valves). Plus, some companies offer seasonal checkups as part of their coverage, which is a big added value to keep your system in good working order.

The Life Expectancy and Cost of an AC Unit

In order to help your client consider the AC unit and plan for relevant expenses, it’s of course helpful to know the answers to the following: How long does a typical unit last? And, how much does a new system even cost? Because AC units work so hard in our harsh desert climate, they tend to have a lower life expectancy than in other areas of the country. Most will last roughly 10 years. With regular maintenance, you may be able to extend the life to 15 years. As far as cost, these systems come in all shapes and sizes. Much like a car, there are countless models to choose from. A typical system will run anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000, though more complex systems can run as much as $13,000.

Boosting Energy Efficiency with New Systems

When a system upgrade is part of the conversation, homeowners off en ask us about the perks one can expect with a newer system. Two major advantages include performance and utility savings. Switching to a new unit can improve overall comfort within your home by providing more effective heating/cooling and provide quieter operation. Upgrading also can substantially reduce your operating costs and help protect the environment by phasing out the R22 Freon that depletes the ozone. According to Energy Star and American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, data shows that you may even able to reduce your electricity bill by 47-60 percent.

Keeping AC Top of Mind

Instead of letting this topic slip to the backburner in the off season, we hope this conversation helps keep it top of mind. Going above and beyond to help your clients consider the state of the AC system within their home purchase decisions can help you deliver even greater value. If you have questions as you guide them, be sure to reach out. We’re more than happy to help you better serve your clients.


Brooke Hoyt is the vice president of operations at Platinum Home Warranty, a locally owned and operated Arizona company. Platinum employs their own service technicians for most trades, offering home warranties and a full retail division to meet the needs of homeowners in metropolitan Phoenix. To learn more about how Platinum can help you and your clients, head to www.platinumhw.com or call (602) 733-5000.