Hot Tip re Termite Inspections -- Live & Learn for Sellers & Seller's Agents

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams, McLean

Let me tell you about a terrific lesson learned from a recent listing I had in Falls Church City.  This experience working with these sellers taught me a valuable lesson that I'd like to share with my fellow agents & prospective sellers.  

Tip:  Be pro-active & get a termite inspection completed before putting your home on the market (which only costs about $20 to $50).  We could call this "How to Could have Dodged the Bullet!"  Or "Live & Learn!"

Once we had a ratified contract on this beautiful town home in Falls Church, VA, the buyers scheduled the termite inspection (as expected), and the inspection report showed "evidence of termite activity."  Not a big deal, right? 

So the buyers requested that we schedule a more indepth inspection which resulted in the need for treatment ($500-$900), AND found that there was existing damage due to this activity.  Now it could have been really bad, with serious structural damage and so forth, however, to our good fortune, the damage was not extensive.  However, the buyers were EXTREMELY nervous & concerned about this situation.  We scheduled repairs from a reputable, local construction company and assured the buyers that repairs had been made.  They asked if they could come back to inspect the repairs, & bringing along with them a structural engineer (at their cost -- $350) to evaluate repairs made to the damaged beams.  So in the spirit of cooperation, and keeping the end game & overall objective in mind -- which was to sell this house -- we allowed them to return.  AS you might imagine, the engineer determined that the repairs made were not inadequate, not to code, and the buyers then pushed for us to hire someone they knew to made additional repairs.  Now, the sellers have already paid $500 for repairs, so we had to assure them that we would get the company back who made the original repairs, and insist they do additional work and improve the repairs they made.  All of this cost my clients (the sellers) additional time, money, not to mention stress.  It also created a lot of work for me, the agent, scheduling work to be done to the property, requiring multiple trips to the home.  And you can imagine what happened next -- the buyers insisted on returning with the structural engineer for another inspection prior to closing.  Fortunately, the repairs passed his 2nd inspection, and everyone lived happily ever after.

So you can see how a pre-listing termite inspection is a brilliant, inexpensive, pro-active move, right?  The worst case scenario that the sellers and their agent (me) feared was being this far into the transaction (2 weeks from closing) and having the buyers void the contract, forfeit their earnest money, and having to start over!  Not to mention the law suit that could have ensued.  Talk about stress, money & drama!

All of this said, before you list a property, consider completing a termite inspection before you have a ratified contract, so you don't have buyers concerned about the home's structural foundation.  You can have it treated, if necessary, and get any needed repairs made in advance.  (And,  as you know, all of this work would have to be done anyway, so why get your buyers all worked up??)

I hope this story is helpful to you and makes you a smarter seller, or a more experiened, pro-active Agent.

Good luck!  And call me with any questions -- any time -- i'm here to serve!  703.919.7761

Comments (7)

Susan Brown
Keller Williams NE, Kingwood Texas (Humble & Atascocita too) - Kingwood, TX

There is a saying in Houston.  "There are two kinds of homes.  One that has already had termites or one that is going to have termites."  It is just something we have to deal with in our neck of the woods.  And the majority of home owners have regular pest control service - so if they have caught the problem, they already have the paperwork to cover the treatment.

Aug 04, 2009 03:21 AM
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

I agree with Susan.  The termites sworm mostly in the spring and summer so some houses have termites and you don't even know until the next season even if you do an inspection.

Aug 04, 2009 03:29 AM
John Rakoci
Eagle Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
North Myrtle Beach Coastal Carolinas

The pesky critters can be a problem, especially in the south. The usual inspection runs $50 - $80. Most lenders here require the report to be completed no more than 30 days prior to close. Having one completed at the listing will nearly always require a 2nd. Almost everyone has a termite bond. There are two kinds here- one is simply 'retreat' if the pests are found. The other is 'repair and retreat' where the company will pay for required repairs. I built a home last year. The company that put the initial treatment in offered a contract to 'repair and reteat' for as long as I own the home and pay about $70 for a yearly inspection.

Aug 04, 2009 03:36 AM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Under every home in the state of Maryland and Northern Virginia is a colony of termites just looking for dinner.

Aug 04, 2009 03:53 AM
Delete Account
Clermont, FL

LOL @ Lenn's comment. Same here is Clermont Florida!!! Great story Joan! I think that is good advice for listing agents.

Aug 04, 2009 04:01 AM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

I like Lenn's comment.  Most of our savvy sellers have a transferable termite contract which gives quite a bit of peace of mind to prospective buyers.

Aug 04, 2009 04:07 AM
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate

Just another expense if the seller wants to sell his home I guess.  By the way, I think we sometimes take on too much responsibility when we list homes.  The sellers should be the ones being there for the repairs and such.  If the A/C had broke on their time, would you be there to let the A/C people in?  Just a pet peeve as I do the same thing.

Aug 28, 2009 12:23 PM