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Termite inspections for home purchases

Learn what’s required when you buy a home

Termites are a big problem. The National Pest Management Association estimates they cause more than $5 billion worth of damage each year, including structural damage so severe it can make a home unsafe. Termites eat wood floors, walls, ceilings, doors, cabinets, trim, and furniture. You often don’t know you have them until it’s too late. And homeowners insurance policies don’t usually cover the damage they cause.

When you are buying a house, you may be required to get a termite inspection before the lender approves your mortgage. The price of termite inspections varies but can often cost around $100.

There are different inspection requirements depending on the type of mortgage and the location of the home. Lenders may require an inspection in warm regions where termites are commonly found.

Homebuyers usually pay for professional termite and home inspections, and it is a good idea to make the purchase contingent on the results. You don’t want to discover your new home needs expensive repairs after you have closed the sale! The cost of repairing any termite damage is usually paid by the seller.

Are termite inspections required for VA Loans?

When you buy a house with a VA loan, you must have the home inspected by an appraiser to ensure the property is safe, clean, and structurally sound. Appraisers must report signs of termite damage they find. In places where termites are common, the Department of Veterans Affairs also requires a separate termite inspection.

Either the buyer or the seller can pay for the appraisal, but VA rules require the seller to pay for the termite report. All damage found must be repaired by the seller before the mortgage will be approved.

Are termite inspections required for FHA Loans?

A home appraisal is needed for FHA loans and the appraiser is required to look for termites and report signs of damage. When evidence is seen, you must get a professional inspection, and repairs must be done before the loan is approved. Homebuyers generally pay for these appraisals and inspections.

Do conventional mortgages require a termite inspection?

Conventional loans are mortgages offered by lenders without a government guarantee. These lenders may make a termite inspection a condition of approving your loan because termite damage can reduce the value of the home and affect the amount you can borrow.

How much does fixing a termite problem cost?

When termites eat through wood framing and supports, the repairs can be expensive. Homeowners often pay between $200 and $900 for a professional to manage their termite problem according to Home Advisor. If you need a tent to treat your entire home, the cost can run between $1,200 and $2,500.

Homeowners insurance frequently does not pay to repair termite damage, so it is a good idea to look for evidence of these pests in a home you want to buy and have it inspected and repaired by a professional. It’s also a good idea to look for signs of termite damage in a home you own!

What are the signs of termite problems?

  • Swarms of bugs. Termites swarm from spring to fall and look like flying ants. Swarms happen when colonies get too big, which means you have termites close by when you see one.
  • Piles of wings. These pests shed their wings when they are done swarming. Piles of insect wings around windows and other places are a sign of termites.
  • White ants. Once termites drop their wings, they often look like pale ants with big heads and long fat bodies.
  • Munching noises. Termites are loud eaters. If you press your ear to a wall, you might hear them chomping on your home.
  • Hollow-sounding wood. Because termites eat wood from the inside out, you can often hear damage before you see it. Knock on wood and listen for a hollow sound.
  • Sagging floors, cracked walls. Since these voracious pests eat the wood structure of your house, you might see evidence of the damage in your floors and walls.
  • Mud tubes and tunnels. Some termites build mud tunnels near the foundation of houses. Mud tubes are a sign of trouble.
  • Maze patterns. Some termites create what look like mazes as they eat their way through wood.
  • Damage to decks and fences. If wood structures outside your house have termite damage, you may have termites inside too.

How do you prevent termite damage?

If the inspection shows termites are on the property, then make sure to hire a reliable exterminator to treat the termites when you find them. Also follow these practical steps!

  • Protect your foundation. Termites usually get into your house through the foundation. Keep concrete and masonry foundations in good repair and fix cracks termites can use to enter your home. You can install physical and chemical barriers too.
  • Don’t store wood near your house. Firewood, lumber, wood debris, cardboard, paper, wood chips, and mulch are all food termites like. Keep them away from your house.
  • Keep the soil dry. Termites like moist soil. Maintaining gutters and downspouts, grading lawns so water flows away from your home, and minimizing shrubbery and landscaping close to your exterior walls will help discourage them.
  • Watch out for leaks and humidity. Termites like moisture inside your house too. Fix leaks from all sources and reduce the humidity in your home, particularly in crawl spaces.
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