Pest Inspections in the Home Sales Process
The question of pest inspections often arises during the process of selling a house. Is a pest inspection a regular part of an overall home inspection? Who pays — the buyer or seller? If problems are found, who pays for the treatment? Read on for answers to your questions about pest inspections.
Home inspection versus pest inspection
A home pest inspection is not the same as the overall home inspection typically done when a house is sold. A house inspector examines many aspects of a house, such as its roof, foundation, HVAC system and more, but is not actively looking for pests. A pest inspection is performed by a professional pest management specialist.
Once a contract is signed by both parties, the buyer should pay to have the house inspected within 10 days. If a professional home inspector notes evidence of pest infestation — signs of wood-destroying insects, rodent droppings, dry rot — he will recommend having a pest professional evaluate the house.
Wood-destroying insects are the biggest concern in a pest inspection. It’s not just the creep factor. Termites and carpenter ants can cause thousands of dollars in damage to a home’s wood frame.
Required disclosures and inspections
Many states require sellers to provide buyers a property history and condition report. These states often mandate that past infestations of termites and carpenter ants be disclosed. Disclosure of other pests is usually not required.
Some states require a wood-destroying insect inspection as part of the sales process. The buyer’s mortgage lender may require a pest inspection even if the state does not. If pests are found, the lender may require that a licensed professional treat the problem and provide a letter certifying the work was done. This is particularly true where the Federal Housing Administration or the Veterans Administration backs the loan.
Only pest professionals with special certification can treat termites.
Should you get a pest inspection?
If you are the buyer, you should have a pest inspection done if the home inspector recommends one. You should also do so if the house is several years old, or if the property condition report notes wood-destroying insects infested the house in the past.
If you are the seller, and neither the law nor the buyer’s lender requires a pest inspection, should you have one performed if the buyer requests it? This is a negotiable topic you should discuss with your agent. Should you have a pest inspection done as part of prepping your home for listing? If you think an infestation is likely, the buyer’s pest inspector will find it. So addressing the issue upfront and providing documentation of treatment will demonstrate good faith to potential buyers.
A pest inspection generally costs between $50 and $200, depending on the size of the house and other factors.
A word about termites
Termites are in an infamous class by themselves when it comes to pest control. A general pest control treatment tackles common critters like spiders, scorpions, rodents and roaches. You need a separate treatment and prevention contract to deal with termites.
A termite control contract should name the targeted pest specifically, such as subterranean or dry-wood termites, and state what structures will be treated. It should also state the duration of the contract, the methods of treatment to be used, and whether the treatments will be corrective and preventative, or preventative only. The contract should also come with a termite bond guaranteeing that if termites are detected again within a specified period, remediation will be free.
A seller’s termite control contract should be transferable to a new homeowner. It provides for an initial inspection and treatment if needed as well as follow-up inspections. There usually is an annual charge.
Finding a service
Your real estate agent will probably have a referral for a pest control professional. You are not obligated to use that person. If you decide to find your own, the National Pest Management Association can help you locate a pro.
Related – Understanding Pest Control Contracts