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.