Can You Sell A Home With Termite Damage?
Is It Possible To Sell A House With Termite Damage?
When it’s time to sell your house, it can be jarring to find out that there are issues lurking below the surface you were never even aware of. Structural damage may need to be repaired. Mold you didn’t know about will have to be cleaned thoroughly. And if you happen to find out that there is termite damage to your home, that can open up a whole can of worms, or larvae, as it were.
In a worst-case scenario, it is possible that extensive termite damage can severely limit your ability to find a good offer on your house. Depending on the extent of the infestation, these tiny insects can ruin the stability and integrity of a residence. By feeding on the wood in, around, and under your house, termites can create safety hazards that might be costly and difficult to fix. It might only create trouble spots in the home but it could also affect the entire standing structure, especially if you’re living in an older residence constructed mainly out of wood.
You also have to consider the fact that a seller is required by law to disclose termite-related issues. So even if the issues aren’t catastrophic, potential buyers are going to see the word “termites” and jump to their own conclusions.
However, all hope is not lost if you discover your home has extensive termite damage. There are still ways to sell your house, depending how much you’re willing to invest back into it.
Selling A House With Termite Damage
Get Rid of the Termites
It’s an obvious first step but also a necessary one if you plan on listing the home on the open market. You could certainly try to do it yourself but unless you’re an expert who understands where to look and the specific signs to look for (mud tubes, shed wings, sagging laminate flooring), it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to destroy the entire colony.
Ultimately it makes sense to find a reputable pest control company or an exterminator to come out and help you with the infestation. If you’re against the use of certain pesticides, there are exterminators who focus on using non-toxic chemicals and green pest control techniques. It might end up costing you a decent amount of money, potentially over $1,000 depending on the damage, but if the goal is to sell your home, it will undoubtedly be worth it.
You’re going to have to disclose that the home had termite issues even if you get rid of them, so there’s no running from that. That may scare off some buyers and concern others, so it’s vital that you get a second termite inspection from a reputable company after the home has been treated. They’ll provide you (and any potential buyers) with a written report that makes it clear the home is termite-free.
These kinds of inspections are often relatively cheap and will probably cost you $200 or less, depending on where you live. But they could save you a ton of money in the long run.
One note, you might also want to recommend to any potential seller that they choose the company to do the secondary inspection. The last thing you need is anything claiming conflict of interest because the inspector you choose is known to you or impartial.
It’s one thing to get rid of the termites that were there, it’s another thing to prevent termites from getting back in. Aside from whatever work your exterminator does, you can put preventative measures in place to ensure that it’s unlikely to termites to be able to chew their way back into the wood in your house. Install mesh screenings on external vents. Get the house treated for subterranean termites. Fix holes and cracks left behind. Make your home as unwelcoming as possible for termites (and other insects while you’re at it).
Buy a Warranty
A great way to make potential buyers feel better about the future risk of termite infestation is to buy a termite warranty from the pest control company. Many exterminators offer multi-year warranties that will provide a guarantee that termites will not return following treatment. And if they do, the company is on the hook free-of-charge to remedy the situation.
Just make sure that when you purchase the warranty that it can transfer to new owners if the home is sold.
Be Upfront and Honest
The simple truth is that many buyers are going to see “termite damage” and be wary from the get-go. That makes it all the more important for you as the seller, to be honest, upfront, and proactive about the issue.
When potential buyers come to see the home, show them the specific places where termite damage was identified and how it was remedied. Also, provide them with the paperwork that proves the work was done to a satisfactory conclusion. While you’re at it, provide them with the tips you’ve since learned to make sure termites don’t return to those trouble areas.
In fact, you probably want to compile every single document involving the infestation, extermination, and damage repair in one place so you can present it to buyers anytime. If you don’t have any records, ask the termite company to send you report copies or receipts. It not only keeps you looking honest but it backs you up if things ever end up going to court.
The key is to be positive about the issue as much as possible. Never lie but so long as the damage has been fixed and the bugs have been removed, you can be open about the entire process, what you learned, and how future residents should be in a much better position because of it.
A good rule of thumb is also to get it in writing that you have shared all of this information and that the buyer understands everything that happened. It doesn’t have to be extensive, just a piece of paper that acknowledges everyone is aware of the situation will do.
Consider Selling Your House As-Is
The truth is, even with all of the treatment, inspections, paperwork, and honesty, you might not be able to find a buyer on the market willing to buy your home. You could spend months and even years waiting for someone to come along and by then you’ll likely have dropped the price beyond the point where it’s profitable for you.
An alternative could be to sell your house to a cash home buying company or to an investor willing to purchase it as-is. You won’t have to deal with all the repairs and the costs involved with getting the home up to par. Instead, they’ll take those problems off your hands, get you paid quickly, and free you from the headaches that could lie ahead.