Buying a new home? Don’t forget to check for termites

When touring new homes, prospective buyers tend to focus on the cosmetic updates they can make if they purchase the house, like landscaping, lighting fixtures, wallpaper, paint and more. What you should be concerned about are the things that you might not be seeing on the surface.

Termites and other wood-destroying pests can silently be destroying the home and causing costly damage that is rarely covered by homeowners insurance. The last thing you want to do is purchase a house just to find out that it is riddled with termites. Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage. Don’t get stuck paying the termite queen’s ransom.

Termites will occasionally leave clues, so here’s what to look for:

  • Mud tube size varies but often are approximately the width of a pencil. These shelter tubes usually start from the ground up along foundations. Cracks in foundations are the perfect entrance into your home for termites.
  • Crumbling or bowing drywall may be caused by a water leak. Termites love moisture and will find it. If they infest a wall, it can weaken the drywall or support beams.
  • Bubbling or peeling paint could be hiding a termite infestation in the drywall or wood behind the paint. Keep an eye out for any unusual staining on the walls as well.
  • Doors or window frames may be hiding termite damage. Termites eat wood from the inside out. Wood may look fine, but if you try tapping on it with a screwdriver, it may sound hollow or crumble.

Termites don’t care if the home is new or old — and they don’t care if the house is made of wood, stucco or brick. Since termites can be hard to find with the naked eye, it could be years before you notice signs of an infestation. So, just as you would schedule a standard home inspection before closing, you should also consider a termite inspection by a qualified pest professional. That’s the best way to know that you’re not buying a home that has hidden termite problems. Some states require sellers to disclose any history of termite infestation or damage. Termite warranties may also transfer with the house. When in doubt, ask your real estate agent for guidance on navigating the home’s history.

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