Termites - Who Pays When You Are Buying a Home? Do We Really Even Need a Termite Inspection?

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties BRE# 01788371

Termites - Who Pays When You Are Buying a Home?  Do We Really Even Need a Termite Inspection?

If a house has wood in Southern California, it usually has termites.  Keeping up with the little critters can be a nuisance; and termite treatment can be a very costly endeavor.

In most cases, buyers should ask for a termite inspection and have the house treated and repaired wherever there is termite damage.  Sometimes the costs can run into the thousands of dollars.

One common misconception is that a termite inspection is required by lenders for any home purchase that is financed.  Not true.

A termite inspection and clearance is always required on a VA loan; however, on a conventional or FHA loan, the lender won’t necessarily request them.

Huh?  What do you mean, “won’t necessarily request them”?

Well, if a termite inspection is not mentioned in the California Residential Purchase Agreement (4A1), a buyer’s lender will not ask for it.  However, if it is noted in section (4A1), that either the buyer or the seller will pay for a “Wood Pest Report”, then the buyer’s lender will not only ask to see the inspection report, but will also demand to see that any termite damage has been remediated, and that means they will need to see a Termite Clearance report (also known as Termite Completion).

Why wouldn’t you want to have a termite inspection when you are buying a home?

If you are competing against other buyers on the purchase of a bank owned property, for example, you will increase your chances of getting your offer accepted if you don’t ask for the bank to pay for things that a competing cash buyer won’t ask them to cover.  See my blog Cash is King (Especially if you want to buy a bank owned home)for other ideas on increasing your chances of a successful purchase of a bank owned property.

Your termite choices are:

·         Ask for an inspection and request the seller to pay for Section 1 remediation.

·         Ask for an inspection and offer (as the buyer) to pay for treatment costs.

·         Don’t request a termite inspection in the purchase offer contract.

Even if the buyers choose not to request a termite inspection in the Residential Purchase Agreement, they can still have a termite inspector come out to the property and do a full inspection, at their cost.  Then, they can decide if they need to pay for treatment, buy the home without treatment, or cancel the contract because it would cost them too much.

In most cases, it is in the buyers’ best interests to have a termite inspection and a Termite Clearance report, and to have the sellers pay for it.  Sometimes, you may need to absorb those costs in order to get your offer accepted, especially if you are bidding on a bank owned property.  Even if you have to pay, as a buyer, make sure you get an inspection and find out what the costs will be to kill the bugs and repair the damages.

-- Blog End --


About the author: The above article was provided by Rob Willis, a locally recognized Realtor®.

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I help home owners in the following towns in the greater Whittier area: La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, Covina and West Covina.


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Angie Nwanodi 03/27/2012 05:35 PM
  2. Lenn Harley 03/27/2012 09:40 PM
  3. Charles Stallions 08/17/2012 09:22 PM
Home Buying
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Chiara Petro
Realty Executives Associates - Knoxville, TN
Your KEY to Home Sweet Home - Knoxville TN

Termites are common here, too, and are a standard part of our purchase contracts. However, who pays if treatment is necessary is often negotiated. I love sellers that already have termite preventative treatments and include that in their disclosures -- it really offers buyers some peace of mind.

Mar 28, 2012 03:21 AM #22
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Bob - If termite activity/damage is found on an inspection, I always request the seller treats, repairs and provides certification prior to closing. If they don't, well then they have to disclose they have a termite issue going forward.  

Mar 28, 2012 06:13 AM #23
David Selman
Selman Home Inspections, Inc. - Dallas, TX
Certified Master Home Inspector

As a home inspector, my advice to my clients is "unless it is brand new construction, get a WDI report". Coupled with my home inspections, they are only $100. Very small price for peace of mind....

Mar 28, 2012 07:32 AM #24
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

Don't sell/buyl your home without the termite clearance! Only if you're a pro should this be attempted. Plan on doing work i you forgo it. All homes need termite work eventually. 

Mar 28, 2012 10:00 AM #25
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

In all of my 30 years in this business, I can only recall twice that a termite inspection and report weren't performed during the transaction.  One was for my buyer, who happened to be a home inspector.  And another was on a property, that was going to be torn down to build a new home.  I think termite inspections are one of the most critical components to a sale.

Mar 28, 2012 11:08 AM #26
Frank Iglesias
Working With Houses, LLC - Atlanta Real Estate Investments - Lawrenceville, GA
Atlanta, GA Real Estate Investor

Always do a termite inspection.  No doubt.  Unless you are an investor in which case, your probably already planning on handling it and it is not as big a concern (unless they ate half the house already).  

Mar 28, 2012 11:16 AM #27
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

In our area we mostly see buyers request this and if termites are found, most ask seller to treat.

Mar 28, 2012 11:50 AM #28
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Bob, I like whoever I'm representing in the transaction should pay for the termite inspection.  I have a couple of companies who are great.  They find them when they are there, if not, they don't find them.  I'd rather be in control to make sure the good guys do the inspection.

Mar 28, 2012 12:29 PM #29
Christina Sanchez Hood
Palo Alto, CA
#SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living

Bob, I appreciate your post.  It really breaks down the termite process.  I have not worked a VA loan, and did not know that about the VA loans and mandatory termite inspections.  As a buyer's rep, I have always requested a termite, unless the buyer requested otherwise.  Last year, I was very happy that I did because we ended finding termite damage on an exterior patio.  The seller stepped up and remedied the problem, however, the California Association of Realtor's WPA form excludes 'roof coverings'.  So, we were termite free and had a a nice seller who put the roof back on the patio.

Mar 28, 2012 01:25 PM #30
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

A termite inspection is required in TN and part of our P&S. So even if you are buying a bank-owned property it is inspected.

Mar 28, 2012 01:43 PM #31
Nogui Aramburo
Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® - Raleigh, NC
Real Estate Professional in the Raleigh Area

Termite inspection absolutely needed in NC

Mar 28, 2012 01:52 PM #32
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

It's pretty straightfoward with equity sales, but rarely are they covered for REOs and short sales. It has been rare for a bank to NOT require a clearance if the termite is in the contract. Ia ctually had one home where there WERE no termites, but that is exceedingly rare in our area.

Mar 28, 2012 02:06 PM #33
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


When I list a property I ask the seller to pay for a termite inspection report(pest control report).  Then the seller can decide whether to clear the report or leave it to negotiations between buyer and seller.

Mar 28, 2012 02:46 PM #34
Linda Lipscomb
Linda Lipscomb RE/MAX Lexington Henderson County TN - Lexington, TN
731-695-1118, Lexington TN Homes

In Tennessee, the sales contract is preprinted with the buyer paying for the inspection and the seller paying for the treatment and repair of any damage.  FHA does not require a termite inspection in our area.  I find this absolutely unbelieveable. 

Great post and thanks for sharing.

Mar 28, 2012 03:12 PM #35
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Bob - You've done a nice job of pointing out the pros and cons of termite inspections.  It's a big issue with short sales as well where most banks won't pay for wood repair, and some won't even pay for treatment.

Mar 28, 2012 04:16 PM #36
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Some of the termite laws are ridiculous.  I have done inspections on condos on the 34th floor of a building and the termite guy shows up.  Do you think he'll see any visible evidence of termites up there?

Mar 28, 2012 08:46 PM #37
Carrie Finegan
Termite Tracker - Bonita Springs, FL

"As a home inspector, my advice to my clients is "unless it is brand new construction, get a WDI report". Coupled with my home inspections, they are only $100. Very small price for peace of mind...."

"Some of the termite laws are ridiculous. I have done inspections on condos on the 34th floor of a building and the termite guy shows up. Do you think he'll see any visible evidence of termites up there?"


Unfortunately, here in Florida we are seeing more and more beetle and termite infestations being "built-in" to new homes through fancy molding and custom cabinetry.  Like I tell all of my clients,  termites don't discriminate! 

It doesn't matter if it's new, old, wood frame or concrete block construction.  If they find a way in...they'll attack it.



Jan 23, 2013 03:50 AM #38
Bob Willis
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Orange, CA
Orange County & L.A. County Real Estate Agent

Hi Carrie, There are some steel frame homes that are being built that will never have a problem with termites in the foundation or structure.

Jan 23, 2013 04:07 AM #39
Kathleen Rose

Hi I'm hoping you folks can help with some opinions on whether or not we must treat our home for termites to satisfy a termite inspection/certification.  Our buyer had a termite inspection done on our property.  There was no active infestation and no damage from prior infestation inside our home.  The inspector did find one 15" rail on our post and rail fence, which is right next to our chimney, that he said showed evidence of termites.  There were no termites, just some wood that has apparently been feasted upon by something.  Now, the inspector told my husband it will be $850 to treat.

The agreement we signed indicated that the termite inspection was limited to visible and accessible portions of the property EXCEPT fences. This says to me that the inspector should not have included our fence in his inspection.  Now the buyer expects that we will pay for treatment that we believe we do not need. 

Does anyone have an opinion about our options.  The buyer expects us to pay for treatment.  I would not hide the fact that part of our fence showed evidence of some decay that may have been caused by termites, but they apparently never made it into the house.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or advice.


Mar 22, 2013 02:11 PM #40
Bob Willis
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Orange, CA
Orange County & L.A. County Real Estate Agent

Kathleen, thank you for commenting.  You should be seeking the advice of the real estate agent who is representing you in the transaction.  Best wishes.

Mar 22, 2013 11:53 PM #41
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