As a buyer in a real estate transaction, by the time you get to the termite inspection you’re usually close to your settlement date. This afternoon on behalf of two clients I witnessed two residential termite inspections, so I thought I’d share a little wisdom from the field.
Now, before I offend any critters, let me be specific and say that these inspections are for “wood destroying insects” and this includes; termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees and reinfesting wood boring beetles. Yikes!
We were on-location at a darling property in Baltimore City near Patterson Park.
When I had arrived the inspector had already began his visual inspection of the front of the property. In Maryland our standard purchase contract stipulates that the wood destroying insect inspection is to include the ground within three feet of the residence. If the residence includes a garage or outbuilding, the three feet rule still applies - whether the garage is attached or detached.
The inspector was looking both for visible evidence of wood destroying insect infestation as well as damage due to previous infestation that has been repaired. The scope and limitation of the inspection covers the "readily accessible areas of the structure".
There was no evidence of live insects, however, we did see a portion of the sidewalk that showed evidence of previous treatment. When the inspector pointed this out to me, it was a revelation! I had seen these marks before, but I was never certain what they were for. Take a look at this picture:
See the curving row of quarter-size circles of concrete? Thats an area where someone have previously drilled into the sidewalk to treat wood destroying insects with an injection of bug-bee-gone* (I don't know what this stuff is called) and then closed up the drill holes with fresh concrete. The inspector was satisfied that the property required no further treatment.
But what if we had found damage to the property caused by present or prior infestations?
You'll need to rely on the provision in your contract to remedy the situation. Most contracts in Maryland call for the Seller to repair "any damage caused by present or prior infestation and have the present infestation treated by a licensed pest control company".
In Maryland, if you are in the unfortunate situation where the treatment and repair of damage from wood destroying insects exceeds 2% of the purchase price, Seller, at Seller's option may cancel the contract unless the Buyer shall opt to pay for the cost of repairs that exceed 2% of the purchase price.
How and when the decision are made between buyer and seller regarding receipt of information from a wood destroying insect inspection report should be specifically outlined in the contract. The negotiation of the repairs for termite infestation is a formal process that should be managed by the respective brokers.
My second termite inspection this afternoon was a breeze. It was for a nearly-new town house in Elkridge, MD that had been built in 2007. At this location the inspector spent most of his time in the garage. What was he looking for? Mulch. Apparently the number one way he sees termites get trafficked into new construction property is through mulch - which essentially is ground up trees. Makes sense, right? He told me most closed bags you purchase at garden supply stores aren't the problem - It's the mulch that landscaping teams drop-off in bulk.
In both appointments this afternoon, the inspections were performed by independent licensed Maryland pest control companies. Termite inspection is not usually at the forefront of a buyers mind when they are looking for a new home. It is a bit unpleasant to bring up the subject of insect infestation. Don't let it bug you, get a fearless agent like me to get up close and personal with your new home!
If you liked my post on Termite Inspection 101, perhaps you'll enjoy my post on Septic Inspections.
Broker / Owner Guerilla Realty and
Vice President Tranzon Fox Auctions
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