Contributed by: Doug Webb
Updated on: November 4, 2022
At Terminix, we're the experts in termite control and other household pests, not home loans and mortgages. With this in mind, we've included a list of additional resources at the bottom of this page for more information regarding the interplay between pest control and home loans.
Typically, before agreeing to buy a home, you have the option to have any number of home inspections done, including a general inspection, radon inspection, pest inspection and more. Keep in mind that what many people in real estate refer to as a "pest inspection" is actually a wood destroying organism (WDO) or wood destroying insect (WDI) report, which usually includes a termite inspection. Learn more about wood destroying insect reports (WDIRs) and why you may need one if applying for a VA home loan.
Do I have to get a termite and pest inspection for a VA loan?
If you are using a VA (Veteran Affairs) loan to purchase a property or refinance an existing mortgage, the VA may require that the property have a termite inspection for the mortgage process. Any property purchased with a VA (Veterans Affairs) loan must meet the VA's minimum property requirements. These requirements are intended to ensure the buyer is purchasing a safe, sanitary and structurally sound property.
As of June 2022, the VA administration requires termite and other wood destroying insect inspections for homes that are in areas where termite infestation probability is moderate to heavy or very heavy. If you live in one of these areas, you may need to arrange for a termite inspection first in order to continue with the mortgage process.
VA loan termite inspection requirements by state
The Veterans Affairs administration requires a termite inspection for mortgages in the majority of states throughout the U.S. due to the prevalence of termite infestations and the costly damages they can cause to a property.
While the VA mandates a termite inspection in most states, there are some states where the organization's requirements are more flexible and not as strict. These states include:
- Michigan (not required all counties)
- New Hampshire (not required in all counties)
- New York (not required in all counties)
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Vermont (not required in all counties)
- Wisconsin (not required in all counties)
If your state isn't on this list, a termite inspection for a mortgage is a requirement. These requirements can change over time, so it's important to do your homework to be sure you are compliant with local processes in order to obtain a VA home loan. You can find a full list of VA loan termite inspection requirements for VA home loans by-state on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Keep in mind: just because the VA does not require a WDI inspection in some states does not mean that termites and other wood destroying insects are not present in those states. It is a good idea to have an inspection report before buying a house whether the VA requires it or not.
What pests do the VA loan inspection cover?
Depending on where the home you intend to purchase is located in the U.S., your inspector may look for:
- Carpenter ants
- Carpenter bees
- Old-house borers
- Powderpost beetles
Most states require a wood-destroying insect and organism report (WDIOR) or wood-destroying insect report (WDIR). The name of the report can vary by state. This report is created after an inspection of the home for active termites or other wood-destroying insects.
Wood-destroying insects can be a home's worst enemy. A VA termite inspection may uncover an existing infestation or damage from past infestations. It may also provide insight into conditions that could be vulnerable to pests.
While termites often come to mind when discussing wood-destroying insects, they are one of several types of wood-destroying insects and organisms that can cause considerable damage to the wood in a home. A professional termite inspection will include examining the visible, accessible interior and exterior of the home to look for wood damage and to help identify the cause.
Who pays for a VA loan pest inspection?
VA guidelines indicate that the VA loan pest inspection (which again is actually a WDI inspection) may not be paid by the buyer for a first mortgage in most states. For a refinance, VA borrowers can pay this fee.
For a first mortgage, the lender will require a copy of the termite inspection invoice to show who paid for the inspection as part of the loan paperwork. The lender, the realtor or even the seller can pay the cost. Consult the VA Regional Loan Center for the termite inspection costs for VA loans in the area where the home is located to learn about exceptions related to paying for the pest inspection.
What does a WDI inspector look for?
During the termite inspection for a VA loan, a termite control professional will look at the exterior and all visible, accessible areas of the home's interior, including the attic and/or crawl space. The inspection will include looking for wood destroying insects and conducive conditions for these pests, as well as their tell-tale signs, such as damaged wood and frass (termite droppings), or discarded wings and mud tubes. Different signs of termites can help to identify the correct species of termites or other wood destroying insects, as well, allowing a termite professional to recommend the most effective treatment.
Related > The Top 5 Signs of Termites
Once the inspection is completed, the termite control professional will provide a report or certificate that details the extent of infestation or damage. The form will also outline recommended treatments and the limits of the inspection.
Do VA loan termite inspections expire?
The VA considers the termite inspection to be valid for 90 days. This period is to satisfy the pest or termite inspection requirements for the VA loan. It is not a warranty or guarantee that the home is free from wood-destroying insects during that time or that an infestation cannot occur after that, but rather a report of visible evidence of wood destroying insects at the time of the inspection.
Termite inspections for other loan types
If you aren't applying for a VA loan, you may still require a pest inspection for other types of home loans. Be sure to check with your realtor and lender about the requirements for your home loan.
Is a termite inspection required for a conventional loan?
If you are taking out a conventional loan, you may need a termite inspection. Unlike VA loans, conventional loans are not government-backed. That's why a decision about an inspection is solely at the lender's discretion. Be sure to consult them about any inspections required in advance.
However, the majority of lenders are likely to request a wood destroying insect inspection because termite damage can have a significant effect on the value of a home. This, in turn, can have an impact on the amount lenders are willing to provide.
Is a termite inspection required for an FHA loan?
If you are obtaining a loan from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a termite inspection is a requirement.
The FHA also requires home appraisals. If the appraiser finds damage from termites or other pests, repairs may be required before the loan can be approved. The home buyer is usually responsible for covering appraisals and inspections.
Are pest inspections required for refinancing?
While it's not a requirement for all refinancing projects, you may still need to arrange for a termite inspection.
The cost of a termite inspection is minor compared to moving into a home that has previously undiscovered termite damage. Even if a termite or pest inspection isn't specifically required, it makes sense to have the property inspected, as an inspection can help you discover a problem before it turns into extensive damage.
Are there requirements for new construction homes?
If you are using a VA loan to purchase new home, depending on the state, the property may still require a termite inspection and/or a New Construction Subterranean Termite Soil Treatment Record. This record verifies that there was a pre-treatment for subterranean termites performed, which helps reduce the risk of a subterranean termite infestation.
Wood-destroying insects like termites are not limited to older homes. While the building materials used in constructing a new home may not have any pests, conditions outside — like mulch or different soil types — can be home to these insects. It may be only a matter of time before they find their way to the new wood in a home.
Related > Does Mulch Attract Termites?
Is a termite inspection required for condo and townhome VA loans?
If you are buying a condo or a townhome, you need to arrange a termite inspection. In some cases, you may be able to waive the inspection if the condo unit is second-story or higher.
Different states have different requirements for condo and townhome VA loans. Make sure to check with the local VA loan center to find out which requirements apply to your case.
Should you get a termite inspection if it's not required?
Yes, it's highly recommended. Regardless of whether or not you're required to have an inspection, you absolutely should. This applies to not only the home-buying process, but to routine maintenance as a homeowner, too. In fact, it's recommended that you have your home annually inspected for termite activity, as they can be constantly feeding and foraging around your neighborhood.
Already mentioned above was the significant amount of money that a termite infestation can cost for treatment and damage repair. If you don't have an inspection before buying a home, you could end up with a money pit. At the same time, homeowners who opt out of routine inspections could be unaware of infestations, meaning they may be in for trouble down the road in terms of repairs while living in the house or that must be made before they can sell it.
Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases most people make in their lives. This is not the time to cut corners.
If you want to arrange a pest inspection for a VA loan or any other type of home loan, contact Terminix® to schedule your inspection, so that you have a better idea of what might be going on beneath the surface of your future home. And if you're already a homeowner but are looking for termite control, prevention or protection, schedule a Terminix termite inspection today.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Veterans United: House Hunting & Property Guidelines
- National Pest Management Association: Suggested Guidelines for Completing the Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Report
- Quicken Loans: Pest Inspection for VA Loans