If termites eat wood. Why are there forests?

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart SA541769000

Arizona home buyers are frequently surprised to find that wood destroying insects such as termites are quite prevalent. Often when showing homes prospective buyers will notice that the home has been treated. The telltale signs include disturbed soil around the base of the property, drill marks in the concrete around patios and walkways and sometimes bait traps strategically placed around the home. The potential buyer is often turned off by the idea that the home has had termites. But we must remind them that these types of infestations are common and treatable. In fact, it is so common that we have a saying here. “It is not if  you have termites, but when  you have termites.” Homeowners in Arizona must be diligent in identifying and treating the problem.

The standard Arizona Association of Realtors (AAR) contract deals with the issue by specifying that a home buyer perform a Wood-Destroying Organism or Insect Inspection during the due diligence period agreed upon in the purchase contract. In addition, most lenders will require a clean wood destroying inspection report before funding a loan.

In Arizona, subterranean termites are the most common type of pest. They live in large colonies beneath the soil and are present throughout southern Arizona. They infest homes in search of food by entering through tiny cracks in the foundation or siding of a home. Once inside they can begin to forage on the dry wood inside walls and ceilings. Their presence is easily identified by the mud shelter tubes that they construct along the base of walls or around solid objects such as rafters and drywall.

Fortunately, in Arizona, we often say that our termites are lazy. This means that if caught early the amount of damage they will do is minimal. As long as the homeowner is attentive the infestation can usually be treated before any significant damage occurs.

Because wood destroying organisms are so prevalent in Arizona, the Pest Management Division (PMD) of the Arizona Department of Agriculture regulates the use, disposal, and storage of the pesticides that are approved to treat this nuisance. The PMD also maintains a public database of all Wood Destroying Insect Reports so anyone interested in the history of a property can readily verify the type and date of any previous treatments.  PMD also publishes several instructional brochures to provide guidance to homeowners, real estate agents, lenders and others that have questions about pest control. The brochures can be found at the PMD website by clicking Brochures.

In summary, potential home buyers should not be scared off to find that the home they are considering has had a past infestation. But by using the tools available to perform your due diligence and investigate the history of the home, you can put your mind at ease. The home you just fell in love with may still be the home that you wish to purchase or not.

Why don't insects eat all the wood in the forest? For the same reason that we never run out of pizza. We/nature just makes more. 


Joe Domino is a Realtor® serving the Phoenix & Scottsdale metro area. You can follow Joe's real estate blog at From The Outside Looking In or find more great information by visiting his website at www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com.

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Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

We get a lot of subterranean termites here in Sacramento.  I often marvel at their construction art. . .Those tubes!

Mar 28, 2018 04:20 PM #1
Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

I love that there is a statewide database on pest reports in Arizona.

Mar 28, 2018 09:50 PM #2
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

I always thought damp conditions were conducive to termite infestations - at least they go hand and hand here. I've learned something new already today - wouldn't have assumed they were a problem in dry Arizona. D 

Mar 29, 2018 08:15 AM #3
JL Boney, III
Coldwell Banker - Columbia, SC
Columbia, SC Real Estate

Given our warm and humid climate here, we always tell people it's not if but when you get termites.

Mar 29, 2018 10:53 AM #4
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