How potentially serious is it to have drywood termite presence and damage in a house that I want to buy?

Asked by Andy, 90020 Thu Oct 23, 2008

If the damage is relatively minor and can be repaired, and the house is fumigated to kill the termites, is it likely or not that they will come back and do more damage to the house? Or should I steer clear of this property?

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Kendyl Young’s answer
Kendyl Young, Agent, Montrose, CA
Mon Oct 27, 2008
Andy, termites are a fact of life, here in So. Cal. If you were to steer clear of every home that has termites you would have very few homes to choose from!

The truth is that termites can come back the day after a tent is removed. We do not use chemicals that hang around - who would want to live with that? Significant damage, however, takes time. Conscientious homeowners will have a pest inspection every year, eliminating the need for costly interventions.

Most homeowners, including me, will only inspect every few years, but even this is often enough to avoid a big fumigation and structural damage.

I hope you buy this home and enjoy many happy years in it. Just remember, a home is only as sound as you maintain it.
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Glen Mitchell, Agent, Half Moon Bay, CA
Sat Oct 25, 2008
Termites are all over the place, but I'd rather have them than tornadoes. You can get rid of them, you can repair, and you can do preventative work, but they will be back at some point. That's the possibility with every place in the neighborhood though, so you have to take your chance somewhere.

Preventative measures...
Keep bushes and growth back from house.
Don't keep wood on the ground. Keep underneath you home clear of wood and debris.
Hire a local company to do routine maintenance. Its not very much compared to what it wil cost you later on.

If you like the house you found... go for it... fix the damage and then keep an eye out to prevent more.
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Joanne Sterl…, , 91202, 90027, 90039
Sat Oct 25, 2008
Hi Andy....
If you're buying in Southern Calif, unfortunately our beautiful weather is the perfect environment for termites.
Termite damage isn't enough reason to walk away from a home purchase, unless the damage is huge, the cost exhorbitant, or the damage too far gone to repair( i.e. undermining piers of a foundation). So, the answer to your question is : it depends. If the estimate for repair is reasonable, $500 - $2000, it is a very common report., and can be negotiated by asking the seller to pay for a clearance, or negotiating a credit to take care of the work...... IIf the cost is huge (I have a mansion listing with an estimate of $32,000) then you might walk. If a reputable company will give you a clearance, and insure the work for at least a year, you should be ok. But the termites will come back. That's why you want to exercise preventative maintenance on any home you buy....kinda like having a child :-) They (homes) require attention.......Once you have a clearance, just keep an eye on things at least annually.
Joanne Sterling
Prudential California Glendale Calif
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Maria Morton, Agent, Kansas City, MO
Thu Oct 23, 2008
Did the Inspector find active termites or old damage?
Is the damage extensive or only in a confined area?
Many mortgage lenders will require the termites to be treated before going ahead with the mortgage.
As Dawn suggested, ask a Pest Control company for their recommendation for treatment, estimate of cost for treatment, and what kind of guarantee they offer after treatment.
Then get a carpenter in for an estimate of repair of damage to joists, or wherever the damage exists.
When you present your Resolution of Unacceptable Conditions, ask for the treatment and the repair as part of the contract.
This is a standard and usual procedure. Your realtor will be very familiar with how this is done.
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Dawn Isenhow…, Agent, Milford, OH
Thu Oct 23, 2008

I would do two things. I would get a contractor in there to give an estimate of what it would take to fix the damage, and then, I would get an estimate from an exterminator as to how much treatment would cost. An exterminator can give you a guarantee that the termites will not return for a certain period of time.

I would take these estimates and present them with the adjusted offer (if I really want the home). If the home is not a big deal though, I would leave it and buy one that does not require the extra work.

Good Luck,

Dawn Isenhower
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