Selling a house with termite history

Let’s face it, in this housing market when you get an interested buyer the last thing you need is for them to walk because of termites. They may love the home, day dream about sitting on the back porch and watching the sunset through the tree line you planted years ago and the schools and neighborhood couldn’t be better. Just when it gets down to negotiating a price and deciding which title company to use they see in your paper work an old receipt for some termite work and that starry gaze off the back of the home turns into a horrified look of terror as they wonder if the house will still be standing after closing. People have a wide variety of reactions when it comes to bugs and it most often is a sale killer if the words

termites back in 06

are whispered out somewhere in the walk through in the interest of full disclosure but you really hope they didn’t hear you. This is a HUGE investment for anybody and you can and should try to handle it in such a way that everybody knows what the full history of the house is and why it is a sound investment. This is for both your protection and theirs.

I’ve seen all sides of this situation and have been the hero who’s saved someone from a bad purchase and the evil inspector whose been called every name in the book. Depending on which side of the transaction you’re on usually tells you who called me what. (I’ve been both at the same time which is quite the feat)

There have been a few times where people have actually tried to cover up damage and hide termite evidence but they usually have done such a poor job that I spot it quickly. One man even painted over the rather obvious termite mud tubes on the piers of his home, I guess he thought that just last week I was a news paper route delivery boy and just got this job. Others go to great lengths to cover the damage with new wood or paneling to try and get their ‘clear’ report. I guess they figure when and if the damage is discovered that my companies insurance will happily pay the bill while they are off scot free. Since by law I have to keep my records for 7 years I take my inspections very seriously just like any good inspector and it is far and few between that I miss in this situation. I am human however and I probably have been duped a time or two which really doesn’t say so much about me as it does the wretched seller who wanted to save a few bucks in such a callous way.

Ok, so here you are and you want to put your home on the market but you know you’ve had termite issues and perhaps damage. What do you do to prevent the seller from running away when you disclose this information?

 

  • Have any and all documents together in one folder ready for them to look at. Even if you are no longer under a termite guarantee or contract pull out all the records. If you are still current have the recent receipts on top showing the service you received and don’t hide any retreats that may have occurred. If there are no records at least look to see if there is a ‘treatment sticker’ (usually on the fuse box) and call that company and see if they can send you any copies. Disclosure verbally is hard to prove in court but things in writing perhaps even with a signature that they saw it can’t be denied.
  • Show them exactly where the known activity was and how it was rectified. If you had damage and had it repaired, show them the paperwork and go to the same lengths as described above. Also give them the insider tip on how the bugs gained access and how you fixed it so that would never be a problem again.ie. A leaky gutter or siding that went below grade that you’ve since cut away.
  • Be honest about what happened and have both realtors present when you disclose. Don’t hide anything for sure but you don’t have to re-live the horror either. Be calm and positive about the steps you’ve taken and get it out there in a way that’s easy to digest.
  • Get it in writing that you have disclosed this information. A simple note on a piece of paper will do with their contact information that you’ll use to let the termite company know of their ‘new customer’.
  • Insist on the buyer choosing a termite company to do the wdo report-this is very important. Using ‘your guy’ may be a noble gesture and besides he may do it for free since he’s in charge of the account anyway. Don’t do it as any lawyer or judge will smell ‘conflict of interest’ even if it is not true.
  • Consult your realtor if you have one because they know how to deal with these things but never play the ‘hush hush’ game because that gets you nothing but trouble.

 

Another fact that needs to be talked about is that women buy houses and not men. Guy’s will laugh off that dangling 2×4 with bugs swarming out of it thinking they can handle it with a few swings of the hammer. It’s when they get in the car on the ride to the next house that their wives let them know. “I won’t be living in any termite infested house, are you crazy?” The ladies rule the roost on this one and like it or not that is a fact of life. Talk directly to the lovely lady who has the power and let her know that everything was taken care of and that the home is safe and secure and you’ll be that much farther ahead of the game.

I’ve done pest control in many parts of the country and each state seems to have the same motto.

There are only two types of homes in (your state here). Those with termites and those who are going to get termites.

You can add one more line to this over used cliché.

The third type is those who had everything taken care of and this beautiful safeguarded home is ready for you to move in to.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • We are lucky in the UK that Termites are not such a big problem – yet!

    However, there are other pests to look out for when buying or selling a home.

    The best piece of advice: be vigilant As soon as you see (or even think you may have seen) signs of pests contact a pest control professional or use some suitable DIY products. A few pests can turn into an infestation surprisingly quickly.

  • We are lucky in the UK that Termites are not such a big problem – yet!

    However, there are other pests to look out for when buying or selling a home.

    The best piece of advice: be vigilant As soon as you see (or even think you may have seen) signs of pests contact a pest control professional or use some suitable DIY products. A few pests can turn into an infestation surprisingly quickly.

  • The Bug Doctor

    You got that right. I find that the worst infestations (or most of them) are the ones people saw somewhat but let go-supposedly thinking it wasn’t that bad or that it would go away.

    Thanks for your comment and wisdom

  • The Bug Doctor

    You got that right. I find that the worst infestations (or most of them) are the ones people saw somewhat but let go-supposedly thinking it wasn’t that bad or that it would go away.

    Thanks for your comment and wisdom

  • DBeav

    Thank you for this article. My mother was appalled when my husband and I purchased our home 3 years ago. It had termite damaged to some joists. The previous owner had the home exterminated and we had no live activity when it was inspected. Just to be safe we brought in a construction business owner. He told us that when he heard termite damage he saw dollar signs but the repairs made were more than sufficient.

    My question is this: Since I have not had to do any repairs or exterminating for this problem, how do I go about disclosing the information and treatment, as we are about to sell our home.

    Thanks

  • I would include all the paper work in your info packet of course but as far as letting the prospective buyers looking at the place- you may want to consult your realtor- if it’s fsbo (for sale by owner) then you’ll just have to tell the folks you feel are seriously interested. Just make sure you have your receipts/ reports for the work on the ready to show them everything’ been professionally handled.

  • Frustrated!

    We purchased our home 2yrs ago. We were told the house had been treated (as prevention) but nothing else. We’ve since contacted the pest control company and their records showed major damage of which was not disclosed. I’m furious and not sure what to do next as we were under the impression everything was fine.

  • Time to collect all your records from the purchase and I think at this point contact a lawyer. It can be tricky proving termite history, activity and then hoping none of the disclaimers on the paperwork give the responsible party an easy out.
    Good luck