I get asked quite often if it is better to repair or replace appliances.
Like all things property management there is not a clear answer to which way is better.
You have options. The options will work depending on your personal experience, and your access to the right people.
I am going to break it down by sharing my personal stories, because lets face it, if you have or manage properties, you will need to repair or replace appliances.
Appliance repair – This is an option that will depend on the age of the broken appliance and your access to a good appliance repair person. The occupation of an appliance repair person seems to be a dying art.
Appliances are getting cheaper, and the parts are sometimes hard to locate, or in the case of electronics, can be expensive.
I found a great appliance repair person a couple of years ago. He charges a fair price, uses used parts if he can. He can usually sell me a used appliance for a good deal, and does not charge for service calls that result in the condemnation of the appliance.
He will also deal with my tenants directly, and does not charge extra for weekend service calls. He has been a valuable part of my team, but these kind of repair men are hard to find.
I use to contact a major appliance company in our area. The first problem was they seemed to always be so busy, they never seemed to have a sense of urgency. That was a problem, especially if my tenant has a broken fridge, or washer. I can remember many times calling to book a technician and the wait would be over a week, so I would just say, do not bother, and then I would just go buy a new or used appliance.
I also felt they would charge too much. They had a minimum service fee, and then it seemed like they would charge for every second of time, and sell either expensive parts, or in most cases condem the appliance on the spot.
I tried a couple of large appliance repair companies, and maybe is was me, but they all seemed the same.
That was until I met my current repairman. He works on his own, and I can only assume his overhead is quite low.
If your only option is to call a major appliance company, and the broken appliance is more than 10 years old, I would likely just replace it with a new or nearly new appliance.
Do old appliances last longer than new ones? I think with many products, we often hear the old saying; they do not make them like they used to. Here is my opinion. It seems like if an appliance has one user in its life it will last longer. I do agree that I have replaced a lot of old appliances for the simple reason they were either hard wired or just plain ugly. We replaced a stove not long ago that was called “Lady Kenmore” I am not sure that kind of sexist marketing would work today, so clearly it was quite old. I have also had good luck with newer appliances. I will mention that if you are replacing appliances in an average rental property, I would stay away from hi-tech appliances that have a lot of electronics. If your tenants need a degree to figure out how to bake a cake, it is more likely they will just start pressing random buttons, that may lead to an early death. Now that we are speaking about electronics, they can be replaced, and I have replaced mother boards that are in the $200 range for parts.
If you are going to buy a washing machine that will be used by multiple users, it would be good to buy a commercial grade. If you need to buy a lot of appliances, you can buy wholesale white regular appliances for good deals. In our area we have a company called Maritime Appliances, that has a wholesale division. They even sell the small apartment size ranges for good deals (they can be hard to find).
There is one common theme with appliances, they usually seem to work or they do not. There does not seem to be a theme to the exact length of time an appliance will last.
Buying used appliances – Used appliances can be a great option. There are several options when it comes to buying used appliances. If you have time on your side it can work in your favor. That may only be the case if you have a vacant unit.
Most tenants want there appliances repaired or replaced asap. They quite often will share an exaggerated story to drive home the point. A story like I am going to lose hundreds of dollars of frozen meat, or I need my oven because I cook huge meals all the time, or are you going to cover the cost of taking my clothes to the laundromat.
I have gotten some great deals from a local buy and sell store. They often get shipments of nearly new appliances, or they buy, repair and resell fixed up appliances. The challenge is that it is hit or miss. They do not always have what I want.
I have also got some great deals from using a local online site Kijiji.com. The deals from private sellers can be really great. They usually just want to get the appliance out of the house. There are several reasons for someone to have a perfect appliance for sale. Quite often people just want a change. In recent years I have gotten great deals on white appliances, due to people wanting to replace them with stainless steel. The challenge with buying from classified ads, is that you need to coordinate yours, the sellers and the tenants schedule. You may also arrive and what they advertised and what they actually have for sale, could be quite different.
Warranty on used appliances – many buy and sell shops will offer some type of warranty. It could be just three months, but since they want you back for more, they will likely try and help if you have a problem. If you buy from a classified ad, it will be buyer beware.
Delivery of used appliances can usually be handled quickly by people that run buy and sell stores. If you are buying from a classified ad, you will likely need to handle the transportation yourself.
Buying new appliances – There are several sources for new appliances. You can get better deals if you are buying several all at once, but you can also source great deals on one offs.
The main source for me in my area is a company called Maritime Appliance. They sell wholesale to landlords. They sell white Frigidaire appliances. They sell both apartment size and full size, plus coin operated washers and dryers.
Another great source in my area is called the Sears bargain basement. They carry appliances that may have slight damage or an imperfection; they sell them for reduced prices. You can check for scratch and dent specials at all major appliance centers.
We also have some local buy and sell stores that carry nearly new and scratch and dent special appliances.
In the past few years, building supply centers like Home Depot have been carrying appliances for great prices.
Then you can always check flyers and look for deals at the many appliance and furniture stores. You will not have to look to hard to find an appliance ad.
If you buy new appliances you will get at least a one year warranty, and the option to buy extended warranty. I have had good and bad experiences with appliance warranty. It seems to depend on the manufacturer.
Coin operated appliance service provider – We have used the services of a company that provides and services coin operated washers and dryers. What they do is install, maintain and insure the washer and dryer. They collect the money and return a percentage to you. The percentage can be negotiable. It will usually be a 60 / 40 split. 60% of the money to you and 40% to them. This can be a great option. If the machines break, the tenants call the company directly. It is a very hands off approach. The obvious downside is you have to give up some of he money.
I hope this post helps clarify if it is better to repair or replace appliances.
Michael P Currie