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Selling a House with Termite Damage
Termites are tiny insects that feed on wood. When introduced into the home, they quickly become pests and are an absolute nightmare to deal with. They can ruin the structural integrity and stability of your home, which in turn creates safety hazards necessitating costly repairs.
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), termites cause a staggering $5 billion in structural damage--a cost that, sadly, isn't covered by insurance. In addition to this, a termite problem can eat away at your property value!
That's why the best way to fix termite damage is to avoid it altogether.
Unfortunately, termites love warm climates. They thrive in damp and humid environments. And, unless you live in Alaska, you cannot avoid the possibility of having these unwelcome houseguests.
So what do you do if you find a swarm of these destructive insects lurking in your home just as you're about to sell? Many buyers run the other way the moment they find out that a house has untreated termite problems.
In this article, we'll guide you through the process of selling your house with termite damage: how to spot a possible termite infestation and how to deal with it; what you can do to get full market value for your home; and, your options in putting your home up for sale.
Signs of Termite Issues
In order to avoid expensive structural repairs due to termite damage, early detection is key. However, termites are very difficult to detect since they rarely venture out from their termite tunnels which are hidden under soil and wood. It can be worthwhile to have a regular termite inspection.
If you conduct your own inspection and notice the following signs of termite activity, act quickly and decisively in order to be termite free as soon as possible:
Presence of Termite Swarmers
Termite swarmers are winged adult termites that fly away to establish their own colonies. You can find shed wings or dead swarmers in your home's floor or windowsill.
Unfortunately, once swarmers are already out in the open, it is a sure sign that there is already a large termite colony underneath your property. It is imperative that you contact a pest control company asap in order to have your house inspected and treated.
Mud Tubes Traveling Up the House
Mud shelter tubes traveling up from the crawl space or along exterior walls are typically a sure sign that you have an infestation on your hands. In order to check that the infestation is active, carefully break off a 1-inch segment of the mud tube and wait to see if they'll repair it over the next few days. If this happens, then, you have an active infestation.
Mud shelter tubes reaching higher up the house into the ceilings, soffits, and fascia boards are a sign of Formosan termite colonies, also known as the "super termite", which is the most aggressive of all termite species.
In any case, call and arrange a professional exterminator immediately for termite removal.
Visible Termite Damage
Sagging laminate flooring, sagging ceilings, termite damaged wood caked with dried mud, and broken door frames are among the many obvious indications of significant termite damage. Most of the times, though, a serious termite problem could be hiding behind the wallpaper or under loose floor tiles.
Get a professional on site asap in order to prevent further damage.
Causes of Termite Infestation
Florida and Georgia are two states that have the highest risk of termite damage. Their hot and wet climate are two conditions that termites love, so if you happen to live in those states, you need to be more proactive in order to avoid a termite infestation on your property.
Water damage is one of the biggest headaches a homeowner could deal with. It can cause a multitude of problems including mold, warping of structural members which may lead to collapse, and yes, termite infestations.
Cracks in the Foundation
The area under your home's foundation is dark and moist, ideal conditions for subterranean termites to live in. If there are cracks and gaps in the foundation, termites can exploit these imperfections to build mud tubes and get into your home.
Additionally, cracks in your home's exterior, particularly around doors and windows, can be a pathway for a termite swarm. External vents can be an entry point for termites, as well.
Regular inspections can help you find and fix these cracks early in order to avoid having a full-blown termite infestation.
Untreated Wood Touching the House
Termites love wood, or rather, the cellulose contained within. Termites can be attracted to wood leaning against the walls of your house. After they have finished devouring it, (in order to feed their ever-growing colony) they would keep moving right into your home. This means your beams, columns, furniture, flooring, and ceilings are fair game for termites.
Failure to Conduct a Regular Inspection
An untrained eye can easily miss the early signs of a termite infestation. Therefore, it is a worthwhile investment to have a regular pest inspection so you can have timely termite treatments before they are able to establish an entire colony.
Can You Sell a House with Termites?
Yes, you can sell a house with termites.
You may worry that your pool of home buyers won't be that deep, and while it can be challenging, selling burdensome houses such as those with extensive termite damage is not impossible.
Options in Selling a House with a Termite Problem
There are two avenues open to you when trying to sell a house with a termite problem: fix the existing issues, undertake the repairs, then put your home on the open market; or sell the house as-is to a cash buyer.
Option #1: Repair and Remediate then Sell with a Termite Warranty
In a traditional home sale process, a new homeowner who intends to live in their purchased home would likely prefer a turnkey property where they can immediately move in.
If you intend to sell to this type of buyer, whether through For Sale by Owner (FSBO) or through an agent using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), it would be beneficial to fix everything up prior to listing.
Buying a property with a history of termites can be scary for prospective buyers, but you can give them a peace of mind by doing the following:
Conduct a Termite Inspection and Treatment
Schedule a home inspection in order to get a picture of where you're at and what you need to do with your property prior to listing it on the open market.
Follow the recommendations of the inspector regarding the necessary treatment so you can be in a better selling position down the line.
Repair and Rehabilitate the Property
Upon completing the removal of termites and other pests, it is now time to deal with the damage they have left behind.
If there is significant damage on wooden frame members, you can either replace them entirely or go for a less costly option and simply reinforce the termite damaged wood. When replacing frame members, you can use a termite-resistant material such as steel, treated timbers, or fiber-reinforced concrete.
After all the repairs have been made, arrange for a second termite inspection and obtain a written report from the pest control professional. A report indicating a clean bill of health for your house can be a huge advantage in negotiating for the best selling price.
Disclose All Known Issues, Past and Present
Even if you live in a caveat emptor state, it is best practice to be honest and upfront with interested buyers regarding all known issues and material defects, especially termite damage in this case, even after treatment was completed. Doing so builds trust, and you avoid any future legal trouble.
Give Buyer a Termite Warranty
Normally, the termite treatment comes with a one-year warranty. Make sure that this warranty is transferrable to the buyer.
This would assure the potential buyers that the home has been taken care of, and should problems arise in the future, they know that it's not going to cost them extra.
Option #2: Selling As-Is to Cash Buyers
If you are strapped for cash and pressed for time, then you can sell to a cash buyer. Since you'll be selling as-is, you don't need to have your home inspected and treated, nor do you need to address the termite damage--in fact, you don't even have to stage your home for viewings!
Interested buyers for these types of properties include house flippers and real estate investors; sometimes, the more distressed the property, the better for them.
Disclosure is still important, though, and it is essential to obtain a written acknowledgment that the potential buyers have been briefed regarding the condition of the house.
Expect to Give a Discount
A cash buyer will factor in the repair and remediation costs in their cash offer. You must then expect that the fair cash offer is below market value since there is a lot of work that needs to be done and the buyer must be compensated for it.
Nevertheless, selling to a cash buyer frees you and your family from the hassles of a traditional sale. You also avoid paying commissions to real estate agents, leaving you with more cash in hand. Cash buyers also close fast since they don't need to wait for a mortgage to be approved.
With the time you save, you may realize in the end that this is the more cost-effective option.
Things to Consider in Selling a House with Termite Damage
In order to decide between the two options above, you need to consider three things: time, energy, and money.
If the repairs from termite damage are relatively minor and won't take too much time and money, then you can go ahead with doing the repairs yourself before selling the house on the open market.
If the damage from termites is extensive, as long as you have the energy for it, you can hire a contractor and oversee the repairs and rehabilitation. Keep in mind that this will take longer and entail greater expense, but it can be worth it in the end if you can sell the house for a great price that would cover the repair costs.
If you don't have the money to get the house treated and repaired, then time is also a problem for you. Left unaddressed, the termite problem could get progressively worse as time passes by.
If you're looking to sell your house fast, your safest option is to sell to a real estate investor and walk away with cash. That way, you skip the hassle of having the termites removed and the subsequent repairs and you move on with your life quicker.
Frequently Asked Questions - Termite Damage
Is Termite Damage Covered by Insurance?
No. Termite damage is not covered by your homeowner's insurance, per the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) since termite infestations are entirely preventable by routine home maintenance, and thus, it is deemed to be within the owner's responsibility.
What are Early Indicators of a Termite Infestation?
When doing your own ocular survey around your property, be on the lookout for the following:
- Windows or doors getting stuck
- Termite droppings which may resemble salt, pepper, or sawdust
- Pinholes where termites have eaten through paint or wallpaper
- Bubbling and peeling paint
- Wood members that feel and sound hollow
- Maze-like patterns on floor and ceiling joists
- Swollen and warped floors
- Flying termite swarms
Can you Treat Termites by Yourself?
While you can definitely go the DIY route for termite control, it is much more effective to hire a professional exterminator to get rid of termites on your property.
How to Find a Reputable Pest Control Company?
You can find pest control professionals by browsing the database at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
Do I Need to Disclose Termites Before I Sell a House with Termite History?
Yes. Many home buyers would like to have the home inspected prior to closing the deal on the property. It is better that the information come from you than for the home buyers to find out on their own.
Many retail home buyers are deterred by termites because a property with termite history can feel risky. However, a cash buyer is willing to make the necessary repairs making selling a house with termite history simpler.
How Much Does It Cost to Treat a House with Termite Infestations?
Costs to treat a house with termite damage vary depending on the size of your home, the size of the termite infestation, the required treatment type which depends on the type of termites found on the property, and the subsequent moisture removal.
On average, here are the costs to treat a house with a termite infestation:
Termite inspection: $85-$300
Termite treatment: $230-$930
It should be noted that future preventative measures and home repairs that occurred after termite treatment can amount to thousands of dollars.
What are Some Preventative Measures to Avoid Future Termite Infestations?
You can prevent termite infestations by installing mesh screens on external vents, repairing and sealing cracks in your home's exterior, and getting your house and its environs chemically-treated using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved pesticides to get rid of subterranean termites.
Closing Thoughts: Selling a House with Termites
Selling a property with termites is not simple if you want a retail buyer on the open market. Getting rid of the termites and repairing any damage is costly in terms of money and time. If you're looking to sell hassle free with the existence of termites on your property, a cash buyer who purchases homes as-is can save you a lot of trouble by making you a cash offer.
Here at Sell My House Fast, we buy houses in absolutely any condition! We aren't turned off by termites, and selling to us means you don't have to remediate termite damage. We close on burdensome houses fast as we strive to provide real estate solutions to make the selling process as simple and stress-free as possible for you!
Fill out the form below and we'll give you a quick, fair cash offer-- no obligation whatsoever! Plus, we close on the date that you choose, and we'll even cover all closing costs for you!
Give us a call at (844) 207-0788 with any questions about selling a property with termites.