Are you looking to buy or sell your home this year? Either way, you’ll no doubt encounter the request for a termite inspection. According to the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. termite infestation costs are about one billion in prevention and structural damage every year. Within our region, there are thriving termite colonies hiding in the wood frames of our homes and in the very mulch many homeowners add to their flower beds annually. As a home buyer or seller, you’ll want proof the property is free of termites and any damage has been repaired, otherwise it may halt your deal.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the most common termite types in the U.S. are the native subterranean and Formosan termites. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has created a zonal system called the Termite Infestation Probability (TIP). This system details what states have the greatest concentration of termite treatment or damage.

Before you consider making an offer on a home, check the TIP Zones for places with heavy infestations.

In most states, including Maryland, there is a termite clause in the Residential Sales Contract, which is negotiable between buyer and seller. However, government loan types like FHA or VA loans will require proof of a termite inspection within 30 days of settlement, as a qualification for the loan. In most cases in MD, the buyer pays for the termite inspection and the seller will pay for treatment and damages (up to 2% of purchase price) if an active colony is discovered.

Always choose a licensed company to perform a termite inspection. The actual inspection is a visual check that includes the interior and exterior of your home and sometimes other structures like garages and fences. It’s a good idea as a homeowner to have a termite inspection every year as a preventive measure. This preventive inspection costs under $100 and may end up saving a homeowner $1,000’s later in damage. Also, if you are planning to sell, let your buyers know you have an inspection and “termite certification’; it may be a selling point as one less expense a buyer will have to incur and arrange. As a courtesy; provide buyers with contact information to your current termite company so they may continue the service; in some cases it may be a requirement to close the deal on the home.

So, yes a termite inspection is necessary but don’t let termites ruin your day. Here are simple tips to keep termites away:

  • Keep your home’s wooden structure free of moisture
  • Avoid mulch in flower beds around foundation
  • Stack, cover, and place firewood away from your home
  • Fill in low spots in the yard to avoid ponding
  • Arrange rainspout runoff into well drained areas
  • Check your air conditioning unit for excessive moisture

Do you want to know more about residential termite inspections and other inspections in the buying and selling process? Contact George Papakostas and get the answers you need to start home shopping (or home selling) today!

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