How to Spot Insect Damage When Buying a Home

How to Spot Insect Damage When Buying a Home

Summer is the most popular season for home buying, and the real estate market is booming here in Alabama. But, it’s also the time of year when insects are out in full force.

The last thing any buyer wants is to walk into an infestation the first day in their new home. According to the EPA, homeowners spend over $2 billion every year fixing termite damage alone. After spending thousands on a down payment and closing costs some owners may be left without the funds needed to correct serious issues.

When you’re touring a home it’s your first opportunity to spot potential insect damage. There are also a few other ways to determine if insects posed a problem in the past before you decide to buy.

What to Look for When Touring a Home

It’s easy to get distracted by granite countertops, vaulted ceilings and amazing décor. When you find a home that meets all of your needs it’s natural to look at everything through rose-colored glasses. As an investor (which every homeowner is) you have to be more objective.

During your home tour give the entire property, not just the home, a good once over:

  • Look for signs of water damage like discoloration on the ceiling. Wood destroying insects tend to seek out water-damaged wood.
  • Check the exterior siding for damage.
  • Examine the foundation all around for cracks and crevices insects can get through.
  • Walk the perimeter of decks and porches. If possible look under decking as well for signs of insect damage and activity.
  • Keep an eye out for ant beds in the yard. Stumps can also be a problem because the decaying wood attracts termites.
  • Take a close look in kitchen cabinets and pantries for droppings and other signs of bug activity.
  • Walk the yard looking for any dips and drainage issues that could cause water to collect.
  • Be on the look out for insects themselves as well as dead insects and frass that they leave behind. You’ll usually see this around windows, doors and baseboards.
  • Drive or walk around the neighborhood to see if any homes nearby appear to have insect damage on the structure or trees in the yard.
  • Check the awnings and roofline edges for insect nests and hives.
  • Trust your nose – insect infestations often come with strange smells.
  • Look for holes and gnaw marks, which are signs of a rodent infestation.
  • Inspect the plants in the yard for damage.

Get a Termite Inspection

In certain areas of the country like Central Alabama where termite activity is high, real estate experts advise that buyers get a termite inspection because damage could be concealed. This is separate from the standard home inspection. A termite inspection is conducted by a certified pest control technician who looks specifically for insect damage. They know what to look for and where to look for it.

The termite inspection report will outline the technician’s findings, noting any problem areas or concerns and whether insects are currently present. If termite damage or the insects themselves are found it could impact your ability to get a loan on the home. Some lenders are now requiring that a wood-destroying insect inspection be reviewed before final loan approval is given.

When in Doubt Ask the Seller

If it looks like there may have been insect damage but you just aren’t sure, ask the seller directly. Sellers have to disclose any known problems or damage that hasn’t been corrected. It’s also a good idea to ask them if they regularly treated the home for pests.

Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc. is happy to help home buyers in Central Alabama ensure they make a sound investment. We’ve been operating in the area for over 50 years, which gives us unique knowledge of the local insect population and architecture. We are equipped to provide thorough termite inspections as well as customized termite treatments if needed.

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