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First American Home Warranty woes

Often, when you buy a house, a basic “home warranty” is included by the seller’s realtor or the title company. The buyer can then upgrade to better coverage. Is this a good decision? Probably not, if the warranty is provided by First American Home.

Learn from my experience:

  • You’re going to have to spend additional money to get any value at all from the warranty. There is an up-front fee for each service call. (In my case, $85) This is less than a typical “show up fee” for most tradesman, but a downside is that the fee is paid before the work is scheduled. You’re basically paying to get on a waiting list to make an appointment with an unknown provider.
  • After paying the fee, you’ll (eventually) be contacted by the assigned service provider. You might have to wait several days before the job can even be scheduled, let alone performed. And, as noted above, you’ve already paid your scheduling fee. So all you can do is wait until they contact you. (Calling the service provider yourself might not be fruitful, as they haven’t received the assignment from First American yet.)
  • Once scheduled, the communication from First American and the assigned provider isn’t just slow, it’s inconsistent. Be prepared to get different arrival windows from each. I suppose, like any service appointment, you just have to have faith that they’ll eventually show up. (But hopefully not at the end of the day, see below.)
  • While you’re waiting for your assigned day to arrive, do not look up reviews of your assigned service provider. Clearly, First American hires bottom of the barrel companies to do their work.
  • When your tradesman shows up, if the job is too big, takes too long, or it’s the end of their day, they will declare that the work is not covered by your warranty, and then they’ll leave. (They can’t do any work that they deem out of scope, even if you offer to pay out-of-pocket.) Your only recourse is to call First American and ask for a different provider, which puts you back at square one with scheduling. When the new provider shows up, they will likely have a different attitude and might do the work under warranty. (This happened to me twice!)
  • If you have a repair that’s performed incorrectly, you can have First American schedule a re-visit. But this may get assigned to a different provider who shows up and blames the other guy for creating the problem. Now you’re stuck negotiating with First American to get the re-work accomplished, and they will want to send the first guy back to correct his mistake. Moreover, you had better catch the faulty work within 30 days, or you’re simply out of luck as, ironically, the warranty company doesn’t guarantee their work for very long.
  • If it’s not clear yet, the major challenge in the way this all works is that you are not the service provider’s customer, First American is their customer. You’re caught in the middle.
  • Beginning about three months before your warranty period expires, brace yourself for an onslaught of renewal offers (via text, email, and phone) from First American. Even though no sane person would look at the experience over the last nine months and think “oh, he’ll want more of this,” they will express great surprise and dismay that you’re not continuing your coverage. Additionally, on the first anniversary of your coverage expiring, you’ll get another barrage of renewal offers, suggesting that you miss doing business with them. Hardly.

Fair warned is fair armed.


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