Termite Inspections 101

You will probably welcome many visitors over to share in the excitement of your new home, but there is one in particular that you will want to make sure does not make an appearance EVER. Their name? Meet termites, the absolute worst houseguest to have in your new home. Here’s what you can do prior to moving in that will help ensure that you never encounter these unwelcome house guests.

Often termites can go undetected until there is irreversible damage, causing the homeowner a huge headache and a hard hit to the wallet. So trust us, invest in a termite inspection before purchasing a home. If you’re getting a mortgage, an inspection by a licensed termite inspector will most likely be required before the home sale is final, anyway. And while you as the buyer will probably cover the cost of the inspection (typically under $100), you won’t regret it!

termites in a new home

Termites 411

What are these wood-devouring creatures exactly? There are a few different species of termites and the location paired with materials they have access to can impact which kind you deal with. The most common are drywood, dampwood and formosan termites. While drywood termites do not need moisture to survive, dampwood termites can be found primarily in areas with damp or rotting wood. Formosan termites typically live in the ground but can also be found in damp wood. Termites are active in all 50 states, although colder weather does slow them down or cause them to hibernate.

Aside from the fact that termites can live in varying conditions and consume wood (that thing your home is probably made of), one of the things that makes them such terrible pests is that they can eat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So they are literally munching away at whatever wood they can get their mandibles (their teeth) into around the clock.

Ants are often mistaken for termites and while they can look similar, there are two key differences that separate them. Termites have straight antennae with a straight body while ants have a bend in their antennae and a small waist. Also keep in mind that you are much more likely to see an ant versus a termite. Termites often go undetected because of the way they live and wood destruction can be the first indication that a termite is present even before one is ever spotted.

difference between ant and termite

The inspection

The goal of a termite inspection is to identify any current termite activity along with signs that the home has a history of termites, or past termite damage. The inspector will check both the interior and exterior of the house including interior walls, attic spaces, the foundation, crawl spaces, the basement, anywhere that the ground contacts wood, decks, patios and even flower beds around the house. This inspection will be compiled into a report that will outline any findings that should be addressed.

In the clear

Hooray! Your dream home has been cleared of any past or current termite damage, great news! Now you can move forward with the purchase of your dream home. Keep in mind that a wood-destroying organism report or WDOR is usually valid for up to 90 days after the inspection and will cover treatment (not repairs) in the rare case a discovery is made after moving in. Now is also a good time to talk with your inspector and consider an annual termite inspection plan depending upon the area you live in and the level of termite risk.

Bad report?

First, don’t panic. Just because the inspection uncovered termite damage or even a current termite problem, not all is lost. You should sit down and review the report with the termite inspector and your real estate agent. Both will have the knowledge and experience to guide you in how to move forward. The depth of termite damage will play a large role in your next steps. If there is light damage from a previous infestation (no current termites were found) and assuming the seller is willing to make repairs on their dollar, you should be in the clear.

While no one wants to get the report that there are active termites found in the home they hope to purchase, there is good news. Termites can be treated. What is usually the larger problem is the damage that they leave behind. This is where you must rely heavily upon the guidance of the termite inspector and your agent to help direct you in the best decision. In any case the home seller should be the one to pay for any treatment and/or repairs that must take place.

Deal breaker

Unfortunately there will be some cases where either an active termite infestation or extensive damage is found which will indicate that it’s time to let the home go. A mortgage lender usually will not approve a loan without a clean termite report meaning all issues have been addressed. Although this may be a difficult decision, trust the professionals in this scenario and save yourself time, money (lots of it), and stress.

While termite inspections are never fun, just remember that it’s an important step that helps ensure that your new home remains the home of your dreams for a long time and doesn’t become a termite’s lunch.

Want more homebuying advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all of your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a free Ready Report that is personalized based upon the information that you entered. This report will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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