Buying and moving into your dream home is everyone’s objective. However, the last thing you’d want is uninvited guests, such as mites, bugs, rodents, and cockroaches living under your roof.
Some of these pests, like termites, leave devastating effects on your property’s structure. Others bring sanitary issues that make it hard for you to bear the living conditions. Unfortunately, sorting some of these issues can leave serious dents in your pocket, depending on the pest.
Many homebuyers can try to identify these issues during the home buying process. However, to the untrained eye, you may be unable to detect wood moisture or rot. Also, not seeing bugs or mites crawling on the floor doesn’t mean that they’re not there.
This is why it’s necessary to get a pest inspection before you close on any property. Many real estate experts have affirmed that a pest inspection done by a professional helps many property owners identify and control any pest issue before it morphs into a mountain.
Today, we look at the importance of having a home pest inspection done by a professional before closing on a property.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is a Pest Inspection?
As we’ve mentioned, pests can have devastating effects on a property’s structure or change the living conditions. A pest inspection is carried out to look out for any evidence of cockroaches, mites, bugs, rodents, or any other insects that would compromise any parts of a property.
A pest control inspection can have major consequences on the sale of a home. A would-be property buyer can completely back out of a deal if there are any signs of pest infestation. Similarly, a home seller may be compelled to accept a much lower offer.
During a real estate pest inspection, the inspector will check your walls, kitchen, basement, roof, bathroom, and exterior. Obvious signs such as droppings and damaged wood are clear indicators that you have pests within the property. Besides, the inspector will also look at the condition of the paint and electrical wiring.
Other than checking for evidence of an infestation, a pest control inspector will also look out for conditions that may invite pests. For example, open basement vents or decaying wood may tempt pests and rodents to live in the house.
Keep in mind that getting a pest control inspection is not compulsory for all home sales. However, make sure you get one to assure you of your health and safety. A pest inspection is just as important as a home inspection.
In relation to pest inspection requirements, some county laws require you to carry out one before purchasing a home. Some lenders may also require you to get one. For example, if you’re getting a VA loan, you’ll be required to get a pest inspection if the VA determines your home is susceptible to infestations.
Is It Synonymous With a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is separate from a pest inspection.
For starters, a home inspection mainly focuses on the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A home inspector will focus on the following components:
- Plumbing system
- Electrical system
- HVAC system
As such, a home inspection helps the buyer look at the outward appearance of the home. A home inspector will identify hazards, huge defects, and safety threats in a house. However, their knowledge about pests is limited. If they notice signs, such as wood-rotting fungi or moisture, they may recommend a specialist to have a closer look at it.
This is where a pest control expert comes in. A licensed pest inspector is trained to detect pest infestations and look for signs that may invite pests. In short, they’re specifically trained to do pest inspections for real estate.
Only a pest control expert can determine whether there are pests in the property, how extensive the damage is, and for how long the pests have lived there.
Is It Compulsory?
Getting a pest inspection before closing is not necessarily a requirement, but the rules vary depending on the state. For example, in South Carolina, you’re needed to get a Wood Infestation Report for all real estate transactions, while in California it’s not compulsory.
However, if you’re getting financing, lenders will require you to get a pest inspection to ensure there’s a low risk before approving the mortgage. VA and FHA loans are especially specific as lenders will require you to get a termite inspection report for closing.
Property sellers may also choose to get a pest inspection before listing the home to have peace of mind and sell at the market rate. They can use a clean inspection report as a selling point.
Always check with your real estate agent to know if you’re required to get one. County and state laws may differ. Seek advice to comply with the law.
What are the Benefits?
While a pest inspection may be required by lenders or the law depending on the state you live in, it also offers several benefits for you. It can help you uncover some underlying issues that may be currently affecting a home or will happen in the future.
Here are some vital benefits of conducting a pest inspection:
Identify Issues Beforehand
If you’ve invested in property before, you know how expensive repairs can be. Your repair and maintenance budget can balloon even further if the problems are left unattended. This shouldn’t be the case.
A pest control inspection will help you identify pest issues beforehand and take care of them immediately. A professional pest inspector will also give you an estimate of how much it’ll cost you to fix such issues.
Avoid Future Surprises
As a real estate buyer, you don’t want any surprises in the future. No one wants to purchase a property only to find out years later that they’ll have to spend thousands of dollars to repair or replace a wall damaged by termites.
An outbreak can also pose health hazards to you and your family. A pest inspection minimizes your risk of getting caught unawares.
Helps You Negotiate
Pest control inspection will help you ascertain the real value of a house you’re interested in buying. Once you get the pest inspection report, you can determine whether you’re getting into a good deal or not.
If you’re still interested in purchasing the home after finding some pest infestation hazards, you can negotiate with the seller to get a favorable deal. The good thing is that you have a few options that give you an upper hand in the negotiations.
You can ask the seller to:
- Reduce the price so you can cover the costs
- Fix the issues before closing the deal
- Offset the costs or compensate you for fixing the issues.
As you can see you can use the pest inspection to your advantage at the negotiating table. Many homebuyers even request a complete pest control treatment to ensure they receive an outright pest-free home.
Uncover Hidden Problems
As we’ve already seen, a home inspection doesn’t specifically cover issues directly related to pests. While you may be required to get a home inspection, always seek a pest inspector’s opinion before closing on a deal.
For example, you may be unable to detect the presence of larger rodents and animals, such as raccoons, squirrels, and bats. Such animals can expose you and your family to the risk of rabies.
A pest control inspector will help you unravel such issues and recommend a solution, such as grub poison to kill the pests’ source of food.
The pest inspector will also look at the materials used to construct the building and identify any issues that may be popular with that kind of construction.
What Do Inspectors Look For?
During the inspection, the professional pest control expert will check for obvious evidence of pests. They might not be necessarily looking for the pests themselves but the kind of environment that the pests love living in.
This means that the inspector might have to carry a meter to take moisture readings. Other signs the inspector will be looking for include:
- Moist wood (A reading of 28% and above indicates wood-rotting fungi)
- Wing piles
- Gnawing on wiring systems
- Damaged wood (the inspector will tap the wood to hear if it’s hollow or check for crushed joints)
- Mud tubes (small tunnels built by termites to access food)
- Damaged or bubbling paint
- Droppings from rodents
Wood concerns come from termites and other insects that destroy wood, such as carpenter ants. Dry wood termites can cause damage worth thousands of dollars because they not only destroy the wood but also compromise the structural intensity.
How Long Does the Process Take?
A pest control inspection before closing can be done in about 1 or 2 hours depending on the size of the property and the components. If you have more space, such as a basement, attic, or crawl spaces, the more the pest inspection is going to take.
The paperwork might also have to be sent to the lender which could take another day or two. If there’s some damage control and repair needed, it will depend on how soon you can get that done.
Once the repair is completed, you might need another inspection to confirm whether the infestation is completely eradicated. The faster you can have the repair done, the faster the entire process will be.
How Much Does It Cost?
The average cost of getting a pest inspection done is $100. This price can fluctuate from $30 to $200 depending on the size of your home, what is being checked, and the company you contract to carry out the inspection.
Sometimes, you can negotiate a cheaper deal if you schedule regular inspections with the same company.
Who Pays for It?
While it’s almost always obvious that a buyer arranges and pays for a home inspection, the same is not the case with a pest inspection. It depends.
A homeowner may get a pest inspection and pay for it before listing it for sale. If the buyer requests for one, especially if the home inspector raises some issues, the cost may fall either way depending on the agreement.
If the pest control inspector discovers some issues that will need rectification, the repair costs will be catered by the seller. However, there are some benefits of using your own money to pay for the inspection. You can get a company you trust to carry out the inspection thoroughly.
If you’re getting financing, the lender is also likely to be flexible on who pays for the inspection. Only VA loans differ since they’re the only loan options that require you to get a pest control inspection.
The VA lender can also cater for the costs in the following states:
How Do You Find a Licensed Inspector?
Most real estate agents work hand in hand with companies and professionals they can recommend. Perhaps asking your agent about it is the best starting point.
Whichever way you use to find an inspector, always ensure that they’re licensed by your city or state. This is in compliance with the US Environmental Protection Agency.
How can you tell if the company is competent and reputable? By checking their customer reviews, asking for referrals, and proof of liability insurance. You should also ask to see how they will inspect your property or sort out the pest issue. Ensure that their solutions are environmentally friendly.
Most importantly, don’t allow anyone to pressure you into signing a contract.
A pest control inspection before buying a property doesn’t mean that you’re being cynical. You simply want to ensure that no crawling insects and animals catch you by surprise. The damage caused by these bugs and rodents can sometimes cause you thousands of dollars in repairs. While a pest inspection may not be necessarily a requirement in your state, always get one. Put your interests first so you can identify any issues beforehand and know how to deal with them. It’s generally inexpensive compared to doing a comprehensive home inspection and will save you thousands in the long term.
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