Buying a home has always been pretty stressful. After all, finding a house with the features you need, in a location you want, at a price you can afford is often like finding a needle in a haystack.
But in 2021, buying a house can seem downright impossible.
Today, the real estate market is red-hot, including in Cincinnati, Ohio. Houses receiving multiple offers, same-day offers (at or above listing price), and bidding wars have become the norm. Because it’s a seller’s market—meaning that there is a limited supply of houses compared to the number of eager buyers—sellers get to set the terms of the sale.
As a result, many buyers are agreeing to terms they never would have before. Some are buying homes as is, often without inspections—or even never having seen the house in person!
This is a huge gamble, and it’s one that we don’t recommend. If you buy a home as-is and without an inspection, you might end up stuck with a house that is falling off the foundation or riddled with termites!
If you’ve been house hunting for months and have finally found what looks like your dream home, you might be tempted to sign on the dotted line and be done with it. However, before making an offer, it’s a good idea to schedule a termite inspection in your prospective home, particularly if you see signs of termite damage.
Let’s talk about what you should look for in a prospective home, when you should schedule a termite inspection, and whether or not termites are a home buying deal-breaker.
What Are the Signs of Termites?
Termites can be difficult to detect, since they live mostly underground and inside the walls of a home. Still, they do sometimes leave a few telltale signs of their presence. (These signs may differ depending on the kind of termite.)
An important note: you should look for the signs of termites regardless of the location, age, or material of the house. You might think that a new house or a brick house couldn’t possibly have termites—but these are common misconceptions. Termites will take up residence wherever there is wood, including the floors and walls of a new house. Brick homes can be susceptible to termites in a unique way: cracks in bricks and mortar can serve as a useful entryway and good hiding place for termites.
Here’s what you should look for during an open house.
Discarded Wings (Particularly in Spring)
During the spring, termite colonies produce “swarmers,” or winged termites, which fly away, reproduce, and form new colonies. Swarming often occurs during the daytime, making it a more obvious sign of termites.
As you go through an open house, check for termite wings near windows, doors, and other areas that lead into the home. Termite wings are whitish in color and all the same size (unlike ant wings, which are larger in the front and smaller in the back).
If you find termite wings inside the house, it’s very likely the home has a termite infestation.
Mud tubes are used by termites to get around, connecting the underground colony to food sources aboveground. These tubes are about the width of a pencil and may be found outside, leading toward the home. Mud tubes may also be found indoors on drywall, wood beams, etc.
These tunnels indicate that termites are present and likely active. Like discarded wings, mud tubes inside a home are an indicator of an infestation.
Termite damage isn’t always noticeably visible, but there are a few signs: sagging floors, sagging ceilings, and hollow wood. When touring a home, pay special attention to how level the floors and ceilings are, and consider (carefully!) tapping the walls to hear if any are hollow.
When Should You Get a Termite Inspection?
Termites are, unfortunately, very widespread—and they’re not going away. In fact, in many areas of the country, the problem is getting worse. In Ohio, both Columbus and Cincinnati have seen significant termite activity. That’s why we strongly recommend termite inspections.
An inspection is particularly important if you see signs of termites, but it is never a bad idea to request one. Termites are hard to spot, and, if left unchecked, they can do serious damage to a home. You definitely don’t want to buy the “perfect” house only to wind up with a nasty, expensive surprise!
Are Termites a Deal-Breaker?
If you truly love a potential home that has termites, you might be wondering if it’s wise to still purchase it. The answer to this question will vary.
A termite inspection done by a qualified pest control professional may help you answer this question. He or she will be able to tell you if there are termites present, what kind of termites have invaded, and how bad the infestation appears to be. (Keep in mind that a pest control professional won’t be able tell you the full extent of the termite damage. A lot of the damage will not be visible without opening up the walls.)
If you catch a termite infestation early, it’s likely that you could repair the damage for a reasonable cost. If the damage cannot be repaired and the wood must be replaced, however, you are looking at a pretty penny in renovation expenses. This is why it’s so important to have an inspection done before you close the deal on a new home.
If you have a termite inspection done before closing, you may be able to negotiate with the sellers. You may ask, for example, for the sellers to fix the damage before you move in. You might also request that they lower the asking price to compensate for the repair costs.
A home is one of the largest, most significant investments you will ever make. Don’t get stuck in a termite-ridden money pit!
Unfortunately, termites aren’t the only pest you have to be on the lookout for when house hunting. Here are other signs of pests when house hunting.
Call Us Today
Concerned that the home you’re looking at has termites? Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.