Termite Facts For Homeowners
If you're a homeowner, with a new or older home, you should consider having a termite inspection completed if you haven't already. Whether you are buying a house or selling one, a termite inspection is one way to help protect your investment.
When buying a home, you should request a wood infestation report, commonly referred to as a “termite letter” or “clearance report” as a condition of the sale. “Wood infestation report” is a better name for it because it covers several wood destroying pests other than termites. This will help ensure you don’t inherit a costly pest problem. Many mortgage lenders require a wood infestation report as part of the loan approval process.
Even if a wood infestation report isn't required, it's still a good idea. A termite infestation can cause you thousands of dollars in damage and treatment costs and have a negative impact on the value of your house.
Whether you are seeking a new home or offering one, here’s some of the things you need to know about termites and termite protection.
In America, there are mainly two types of termites that can damage homes:
- Subterranean termites build their colonies underground and require contact with moist soil to survive.
- Drywood termites live in wood present above ground and can survive without soil contact.
Termites are active year-round, but they're more active when the weather is warmer. Subterranean and drywood termites are different species of termites that have different biology and behavioral patterns and require different treatment options. They are not usually covered under the same contracts or agreements either.
Signs of Termites
As a homeowner, it's important to be aware of potential hazards in your home. Here are some signs you can look for in your home that can help indicate termites may be present:
- Mud tubes, which are made from dirt and usually about the size of a straw
- Hollow or damaged wood, or blisters in your wood floors
- Termite wings left behind on your windowsill or near outside light fixtures (These are not always a sign of infestation, but you may want to check for other evidence if you see them.)
The Importance of Termite Inspections
Termite infestations are often invisible to the naked eye. These wood-eating insects can be present for years before you notice the damage they’ve done.
That's one reason why a yearly termite inspection is critical for helping keep your home protected. Even if you don’t see droppings or other signs of activity, it helps to make sure termites haven’t moved in. A visit from a professional termite control service can help.
How to Help Avoid Termites
The best way to prevent termites from doing damage is to keep them out of your house. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent termites from entering your home:
- Inspect areas around your home where wood and soil come in contact. Remove all lumber, firewood, plants, mulch, paper and cardboard from around the foundation.
- Fix leaky faucets. Reduce areas both inside and outside of your home where water and moisture could build up.
- Properly seal cracks around your foundation and other potential termite entry points.
Termite Protection and Selling Your Home
More than 30 states require a professional pest inspection for termites before a home loan can close.
According to Veterans United, in 41 states buyers applying for a VA loan aren’t allowed to pay for the pest inspection, so the seller usually covers the cost. Any problems identified by the pest inspector must be corrected before the VA loan can be approved.
FHA lenders can also be strict when it comes to pre-loan termite inspection and treatment. Ask your real estate agent about the pest and termite inspection requirements for your state and lender.