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Should I Buy a Home if Termites Were Discovered?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 by Bill Cowley


When a termite infestation is uncovered during a home inspection the discovery is usually met with much fear, confusion and nervousness by the potential buyers.  When the average person thinks termites the “termite house from hell” comes to mind and they immediately envision a home in danger of collapse.  And, buyers should be concerned.  Termites can be quite destructive, causing $5 Billion in property damage per year, according to the National Pest Management Association. 

So, what should you do if evidence of termites is discovered during a home inspection?  Every home and infestation is unique and we recommend that before you purchase a home you hire a licensed Pest Management Professional to conduct a thorough Wood Destroying Insect inspection.

Here are some questions you will want to ask of the home inspector and the current owner if faced with this situation:

  1. Is the termite infestation active or not?  This can be difficult to know for certain as termites live deep within the framework of a home and activity can be difficult to detect.  If termites and termite damage have been found it is wise to have a termite elimination system installed on the property.
  2. Was the home previously treated for termites?  If the home has been treated for termites this can actually be a positive thing, assuming that the company who treated the home did it properly.
  3. Is there structural damage to the home from the termites.  If so, be sure to understand the extent of the damage before proceeding with the purchase or have the current owner pay for or pay in part for the damage to be repaired. 

Termites are actually quite common in New Jersey.  In fact, the average single family home has as many as four termite colonies living beneath it.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean the home will be infested.  Understanding the conditions in and around the home that contributed to the infestation can help eliminate the termite problem.  The following conditions may have contributed to the termite infestation:

  1. Wood is in direct contact to the soil.  When siding, stairs, door or window frames or any other type of wood material is in direct contact with the soil it provides a perfect storm for a termite infestation to occur as termites see this as a food source, entryway into the home and shelter.
  2. Moisture near the foundation of the home.  Broken down spouts and clogged gutters can allow water to pool around the foundation of the home increasing that home’s chance of termites as they are in need of water and moisture to survive. 
  3. Overgrown vegetation that promotes high humidity in the crawlspace provided another source of moisture that attracted the termites.
  4. Firewood, wood mulch or other wooden materials are stored near the foundation of the home attracting termites to it. 

Finding that a home you are in the process of purchasing has a termite infestation can be scary.  But, it does not necessarily mean you should walk away from the transaction.  If the infestation is properly treated, the damage is repaired, and the conditions that initially attracted the termites are removed then finding evidence of termites need not be a deal breaker. 

Cowleys has over twenty years of experience in termite management.  If you are in the process of a real estate transaction and termites have been discovered contact us here.  We can provide a free estimate for a termite elimination plan to suit your home’s needs.