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Ilfang, Home Buyer in Chattahoochee County,...

Termite damage found after we bought a house in MA. What should we do?

Asked by Ilfang, Chattahoochee County, GA Thu Jun 2, 2011

We bought our current house in January 2011. The seller did not disclose termite issue in the disclosure. We hired a home inspector who is a licensed pest controller, but he failed to find termite.
Recently we spot some termites in the front yard, and called termite control company. The guy said that the previous owner had done termite treatment in the garage area. And he ask for $1200 for treatment.
What should we do now? Who is responsible for the repair costs? If we know there was termite in the house, we would never buy it.

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Thanks for all the replies!

There were six drill holes in the concrete floor, therefore the pest inspector determined that it has been treated in the past. The previous owner is the 2nd owner of the house, and they lived in the house for about 20 years (the house is only 23 years old). So we think the previous owner was aware of the issue, but did not put it in the seller's disclosure.

We will contact the home inspector who did the inspection, and at the same time contacting other pest control companies to get several more quotes. We are hoping the seller could at least cover part of the cost for treatment. Does this plan sound do-able?

1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
How did the pest inspector determine that the garage had been treated in the past? Were there drill holes in the concrete floor? Were there bait traps around the exterior? If the evidence was obvious, your home inspector should have picked up on it...and you may want to take it up with them.

Unless you purchased from an original owner, make room for the possibility that they may not have been aware that the home was treated in the past. The treatment could have been performed ten owners back in 1960. I found myself in this same situation just two weeks ago with a buyer. Their home inspector found evidence that the home had been treated for termites in the past. There was no disclosure from the sellers. They lived in the house for 10 years and didn't have a clue. It happens. And, as David pointed out, it is impossible for the seller to disclose what is not known.

Good luck!

Web Reference: http://www.josiahrallen.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
Is there structural damage to the house that could add up to significantly more than the $1200 quote you received already. If so, then you may want to talk with an attorney. You would have to prove that the sellers had.previous knowledge, which might be difficult. You said.that the pest control pest said there was signs of previous treatment, but was it before the sellers owned the property. Of course, just the threat of a law suit could persuade the sellers to split the treatment cost.
By the way, don't let the presence or past presence of termites stop you from buying a home that you otherwise really like. They are easily treated (at least here in the northeast) and you should be able.to get the seller to pay for treatment and the repair of any damage- as long as it is found during your inspection period.

Good luck.

Jim armstrong.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
Terminate remediation is not all that uncommon. I would suggest your get a second quote and remediate it.

You can try to go after the previous owner, but they usually only have to disclose know issues, not resolved issues. The fact that you had an inspection and didn't find anything will make it very difficult to prove that there was a current problem and the owners knew about it.

The last house I bought had a remote problem where we paid $1200 to remidiate and we never found any other termites in the 7years we lived there.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
If you can document that the previous owner had termite issues (in writing), you may have a strong case against the former owner...

you should contact a real estate attorney to determine your rights.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Contact your agent and the home inspector. Review the sellers disclosure and the home inspection report, then send the report that you received from the pest company over to bot the agent and the inspector and see if you can work it out first.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 27, 2014
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulates/licenses Home Inspectors. To the best of my knowledge there are no regulations/licenses for Wood Destroying Insect Inspectors.

The MA Home Inspector Standards of Practice excludes Wood Destroying Insects.

There are Professional Organizations that provide training and certificates for people that attend their training seminars. As you know, nobody is perfect and there are conditions that might not be easily observable during an inspection.

As previously mentioned in one of the answers, the presence of termites does not always mean significant/structural damage to the home. Poor workmanship by unskilled labor relates to more structural damage than termites in my experiences.

Termites need moisture. It is important to determine if there are conditions at the home that allow excessive moisture accumulation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 12, 2014
Unfortunately your issue is a tough one.

You could talk to an attorney. You would have to prove that the seller knew about the termites and willfully hid it from you. But to try and recoup the cost of a termite treatment will probably cost you more then the just treating again for termites.

You talked about treatment, but is there any significant structural damage?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 9, 2013
Many homes can have prior termite problems. If you have legal questions confer with an attorney

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
As Jim pointed out, the Seller's Disclosure would be a helpful piece of information (if there was one...it's an optional form). However, take a close look at the fine print on that document. If they used the Seller's Disclosure issued by The Mass Association of Realtors, there is a disclaimer that says "This information is based upon the seller's knowledge, but is not intended as a guarantee of the condition of the property after sale or the continued satisfactory operation of any system. The buyer should independently verify all information before purchase." Again, the seller can't be held liable for not disclosing something that he/she isn't aware of...and I don't believe that they would be obligated to participate in the cost of treatment.

That said, if you are able to obtain definitive proof that the sellers treated during their occupancy or had specific knowledge that the property had been treated in the past, that Seller's Disclosure where the termite section was conveniently left blank will become Exhibit A in your lawsuit. That's misrepresentation and yes, you should consult your attorney.

You have active termites on the property so treat the soil, and have the company return to the house every year to monitor for new signs of activity. When you go to resell you will need to disclose the termite history to your buyer...but if you can demonstrate that it was professionally monitored on an annual basis, that will be an easier pill to swallow for your next buyer and you should be fine.

Again, best of luck!

Web Reference: http://www.josiahrallen.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
If you purchase in January, then the termites were dormant and the inspector would not have seen any. If there was a seller's statement, and the seller said that there was never a problems with termites, then you probably have a case. But just because you have termites in the yard doesn't mean that they are in the house. Nevertheless, you want to treat before they become a bigger problem. I think you have a good chance of getting the seller to pay for at least part of the cost.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
First of all, it's entirely possible the previous owner did not know there were termites, or that there weren't any requiring disclosure.

It's also possible the licensed pest control company you hired did not fail to see termites, because at the time of the inspection, there may have been no termites.

Unfortunately, I don't see that blaming the previous owner, or the company you hired to do the termite inspection is going to get you very far, but perhaps you may want to hire a lawyer to review this matter.

As for paying $1,200 for treatment, you may be better served having another termite inspection, to determine if you have termites and if you do, you should get a few more quotes for the cost of treatment.
Web Reference: http://www.golftobeach.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
First of all, don't panic. Termites are found in almost every state and as long as you treat them before the damage starts, then there is no problem. You should first determine if there is actual termite infestation in your house, or if they are just "in the front yard". If there is visible damage and it was not detected by the inspector, then you should go back to the inspector for recourse. If there is no damage then you can assume that the former homeowners treated the termites before they caused a problem. Ask the termite company who worked with them if they discovered any damage to the house. I'm not sure what the going rate for termite treatment is so it may be a good idea to get a couple of quotes. Ask the termite control company to inspect the house for signs of entry/damage also.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
I would defiantly talk to an attorney and then have them contact the listing agent if you feel you were not disclosed information / material you should have received prior to making an offer. I wouldn't throw your hands up though. After having a termite issue at my office, I found out that terminates can be treated and done effectively you can get rid of the problem. I would have them treated and possibly threaten to sue if you can prove they had knowledge of the issue. Best of luck! Greg Afarian
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
unfortunately it is probably too late. An attorney would probably cost you 1200 anyway.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 2, 2011
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