Home Buying in 02090>Question Details

Joseph, Home Buyer in Westwood, MA

I buy a house and there are termites , who are responsible for it

Asked by Joseph, Westwood, MA Mon Mar 5, 2012

I got a house and the house are full of termites , what I can do now

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now that you own the home you are responsible. Hire a pest company and get it treated. How do you know it has termites? Have you seen them?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Hi Joseph. What a drag but you may not have any recourse here as you had the opportunity to inspect for wood destroying insects prior to closing. If you waived the right to inspect, then you have no recourse either.

If you can prove that there was a pre- existing condition, however, and the seller knew about it and did not disclose it, you may be able to fight this. Talk to your agent and/or attorney right away.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Call your real estate attorney immediately and find out what your legal options are.

Web Reference: http://territory.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Annette provided a very useful answer... "There is so much we don't know about this purchase. The details of the purchase agreement should be reviewed by an attorney to identify the most appropriate action for you."

Questions regarding liability resulting from a contract should be directed to an attorney, not a real estate broker or its salepersons.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Most standard purchase and sale contracts have a home inspection contingency that states that you have a certain period to do a home inspection. If termite damage/ active termites showed up you typically have 3 options.
1- Withdraw from the contract
2- Renegotiate terms with the seller about the termite problem
3- Accept the house as is

This is assuming you had a home inspection clause and you are within your contingency dates. If the home inspector pointed out the termite damage it may behoove you to call in a termite specialist and possibly a structural engineer to determine if:
1- The damage is limited to a specific area
2- The termites are active
3- If the damage poses a structural problem to the house.

Do we see termite damage? All the time. In many case it can be old damage limited to a small area and does not pose a concern. The difficult problems with termites is determining the extent of the damage as many time the inspectors cannot gain access to all the areas where there may be damage. Also determining if its active termite or old damage can be a little difficult.

Definitely seek the professional help you need if you are uncertain. If the damage is extensive and cannot be determined how bad it is, it may be time to walk away from the house. But, make sure you understand what your rights are under the contract and what might be at stake for you if you walk away. You might even want to consult an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
That is every home buyers nightmare, but this is also one of the specific provisions provided for in most purchase agreements written by a real estate professional. Be aware, I am not an attorney, and all legal advice should be perused through an attorney. What is common practice in MA may be very different than what is common practice in FL. Consult with local experts for the 'real deal' guidance.

There is so much we don't know about this purchase. The details of the purchase agreement should be reviewed by an attorney to identify the most appropriate action for you.

My observations over the past years indicate:
If you purchased a bank owned house.....well, you are cooked.
If you purchased an investor owned house under an 'As-Is' contract, the buck stops with you.
If you purchased the house at an auction, you bought the termites also.
If this was a owner occupied home, and the owner disclosed the presence of termites, then you own the termites.

If the home was sold to you and reported to be free of defects, to the best of the owners knowledge. Proving what someone does or does not know can be tricky. You may have something to work with.

However, if you waived to right to have the building inspected and/or waived your right to have a WDO inspection, you have, by your action, accepted the consequence.

If, however, the seller disclosed no defects, the building inspector found no defects and the WDO inspection detected no infestation, you MIGHT be able to get some relief, through the warranty of these companies.
Now, there is much we do not know about your purchase and the above should only be viewed as generalities.

You need to make a business decision, What is most beneficial to you in view of the total cost of the damages:
pony up the cash to fix the problem at hand,
or pony up the cash to give to the attorney?

Please resist the reaction to hold others accountable for a decision you clearly may have made on your own.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
If you have encountered a termite problem during your home inspection take a step back and consider the followindg steps/options. What is the extent of the termite infestation? Can you see the damage? If so, has it impacted the structure of the home. You usually see termite activity behind the front stairs. In any event, have a contractor(not the termite inspector) come to the property to assess damage repair. It's not just a matter of cost, but what kind of damage is found. If you have signed an agreement subject to a pest inspection you have the option of having any damage repaired or walking away from the deal. It is in most cases the seller's responsibility to repair any termite damage since it is not usually a visible problem to potential buyers. Everything is negotiable. And it is in your best Interest to have the damage assessed by a licensed contractor and have the contractor provide an estimate of cost. It is best to negotiate the cost out of the sale price or maybe cash back. You should do the fix yourself to ensure it is done correctly and by code.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
If you had a termite inspection you may have some ground. If it is really bad infestation in the main beams or something you should check your homeowner's policy. If you feel something wasn't disclosed that should have been that may ne something too.

Hopefully you can get it repaired and treated.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
Hi Joseph,

I am sorry to hear about the termite issue. Usually termite activity is found when you do a home inspection so I am curious as to why this wasn't found prior to you buying the home. Licensed home inspectors are trained to look for warning signs of insect damage and activity. The signs are usually obvious, including mud tunnels running down your foundation and when the inspector checks the sills of the home (usually by poking them with a long metal pole), damaged sills will usually break apart.

As for who's fault it is, did you use a licensed home inspector? If so it is definitely a major problem that your inspector didn't find any damage and then you did after closing on the home. Any qualified inspector should have noticed activity and they could be partly liable in this situation.

Did you use a Realtor to buy your home? If so, I partly blame your agent for not knowing what to look for, UNLESS they asked about insect damage. Sellers must disclose what they know about a condition if they are asked about it. This also includes the listing agent. It is against the law to not disclose these issues if asked.

Finally, depending on what your answers are to these first two questions, I also partly blame you. Buying a home can be a complex process and there are a number of things to look for throughout the transaction. Finding quality representation is absolutely critical- starting with your Realtor. Not all agents are the same and having a good one in your corner is the smartest decision you can make. In some cases (not sure if this is your case), a lot of people will go through the listing agent thinking they'll get a better deal but let's be honest, how good a deal is it when you find out after you buy the home, that the house is infested with termites??? A good Realtor can also advise you on the importance of home inspection and will also recommend that you use a real estate closing attorney. Always make sure to use a "real estate" or "closing" attorney for your purchase. They can help you avoid these headaches with variety of protection clauses if you have taken all of the proper steps. Hopefully this helps... I have included my article on the importance of Home Inspections in the link below.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
If you buy it (bought) then you do. If you find them before you buy it normally the seller is responsible to treat fro them. Your contract should spell it out for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
I would call an exterminator to kill the bugs and a home inspector to assess the damages. The bugs are responsible, you are responsible for not having an inspection before you closed. Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
If you didn't have a termite inspection, you are.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
I would think you are. You had a chance to inspect. If you had an attorney from your transaction I would suggest calling him or her.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 5, 2012
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