Rummus, Home Buyer in Lowell, MA

Termites tested positive, signs of past water intrusion that was fixed. Should I walk away?

Asked by Rummus, Lowell, MA Fri Jan 28, 2011

Termites were found in the garage, but not in other places. Past water damage that I don't know what caused it.
It is not possible to know how much damage has already been done by termites. Is it safe in a buyer market to walk away from such a home?

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
All those problems are fixable.

The only question is: How much will it cost?

So: Bring in the experts to determine the extent of the termite damage and past water damage. And to figure out how to prevent future water damage.

Assign a dollar figure to that. Bump that dollar figure up by some percentage--say 20%-50%--to account for a safety margin. Knock that amount off the contract price (or the CMA), and that's the most you should consider paying. Try to get it for less.

But, no. You don't have to walk away. Just make an allowance for all the problems that were found.

And, of course, consult with your Realtor for advice and guidance.

Hope that helps.
1 vote
Joe Arnao, Agent, Sanwich, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
Rummus, be careful not to ponder this for too long. Watch your dates on the contract, get professional opinion from expert in the field. If you are running out of time, get an extension or walk before it is too late.
1 vote
Amy Mullen, Agent, Shrewsbury, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011

Are you working with a buyer's agent? They would be the best person to discuss this with as they know what you have already put down on the house and far into the process you are. You would need a professional to investigate the extent of the termite and water damage.

Good luck! Please let us know!

1 vote
Kevin Vitali, Agent, Tewksbury, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
Insect damage and water issues can be problematic as sometime you do not know the extent of the damage. Hopefully the home inspector was able to give you some sense of what it may be as well as if its been taken care of, though it is not always possible.

Especially if its an older home there will sometimes be termite damage and water damage, it is up to you and your inspector to decide whether the damage has been halted, repaired and prevented from happening in the future. Its a personal decision for you to make. If you are not comfortable you could consider walking away.

As far as getting your money back, it really boils down to the contract and how the contingencies were written. Most home inspection contingencies are written in such away that if you are unhappy with the inspection you can withdraw your contract and receive your deposit money back. If you are thinking of walking away and not sure what your rights are, consult an attorney
1 vote
Debby Proper…, , Outside U.S.
Fri Jan 28, 2011
Termites need and love water so you can count on it that you have a big job there if you take it.
Use your insight to make your decision. Would you mop with the faucet open? If your answer is no, than you made the best choice.

The market at the moment is very great for you to find a lovely home.
Wish you success,
1 vote
Dianne Hicks, Agent, Rancho Bernardo, CA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
The best advise I can give you is bring in professionals in those fields to give you an idea. From there you can decide. When was the home sold last? You know they should have done a termite at that point also so if it wasn't so long ago... perhaps the issues are not as bad. A couple of hundred dollars upfront may save you thousands down the road.

Good Luck!!!
Kindest Regards,
Dianne Hicks
HomeSmart Real Estate
Web Reference:
1 vote
Jennifer Eri…, Agent, Wilmington, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
If the garage is attached to the house you can probably assume more damage. Where is the water damage? I would bring in a pest inspector to fully examine the property again. Make sure you can inspect the entire sill of the house. I have been in properties where the garage is constructed on the a slab where its sill is in the dirt and has rotted enough for termites to create an infestation, but the house was on a normal foundation above the dirt line where no water or rotting occurred. If you can't get a cost cure the problem with a guarantee, then you might want to walk away.

Best of luck

Web Reference:
1 vote
Masha Sender…, Agent, Newton, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
It may sound like an awful problem but termites or termite damage is a regularly occurring issue in most properties in Massachusetts (with the exception of newer properties). The person who tested for termites should be able to provide you with some sort of a ballpark idea of how much damage has been done and what it will take to fix it. It is a fixable problem in many cases, but you need more information.
Water could be a bigger issue. Is the property in a flood zone? Are you able to get any information on how old the water damage is? It could have been something preventable, like an old sump pump.
It's really your call and your buyer's agent should be able to help you make the right decision for you and your family.
1 vote
Heidi Zizza, Agent, Framingham, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
Rummus that all depends on the price for the home. Your buyers agent is the best person to answer this question.
1 vote
Kevin Vitali, Agent, Tewksbury, MA
Thu Mar 15, 2012
All those problems can be fixed. Unfortunately you didn't give a ton of info.

Many house do have termites or past termites. You can stop any additional activity by having a treatment done. The question is has it caused any structural damage and can the area that has been damaged be fixed?

There must be an explanation for the water damage. Are we talking rot because of sustained water damage? Or some staining and cracking? If its located under a bath or kitchen, its not unusual for baths, toilets or sinks to overflow. Roofs even the best of them can have ice damming, was it caused from something with the roof?

A good home inspector will give you an idea of what is going on and how serious it may be.
0 votes
Alan Wells, Agent, Lebanon, PA
Sun Jan 30, 2011
I would not walk away until you get some more information on these issues. First get an extension to inspections so you have the right to walk if you need to do that. Get a termite company to come in and inspect the damage. They can tell you what needs to be done and give you a good idea of the costs.
As for the water damage you don't say what and where so again I would do a further inspection to try to figure out what it was from. Sometime these are old water spills or leaks that were repaired however the damage caused was never fixed. If it is still an active leak that could also be determined.
Good luck.
0 votes
Tom and Joan…, Agent, Boston, MA
Sun Jan 30, 2011

I agree with Craig and I would ask for an extension to bring some qualified contractors into the property, but only do this if you feel this is a home worth fighting for. It is a buyers market and there is a lot of inventory, but not a lot of good inventory. One thing I love about houses if that everything can be fixed, and if you have a motivated seller that is being cooperative then pursue the fixes. If the seller is not willing to work with you then you might have to walk away. Best
0 votes
Craig M Pitzi, Agent, Lexington, MA
Fri Jan 28, 2011
Termites are very common in our area. The garage sills are one of most common places. You should ask for an extension on your inspection to have both a termite company and a contractor evaluate for damage. If the damage was old and minimal you could have it treated and purchase an annual termite plan. Something I would use to negociate or require done prior to closing. The annual protection plans are relatively inexpensive and will protect you from future damage. It can really be a small issue, or big, but you will know better after having it evaluated.
0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Home Buying in Chelmsford Zip Codes

Email me when…

Learn more