This post comes from the 1/2 of me that’s a Realtor and the other 1/2 that’s a homeowner.
There are some parts of home ownership that aren’t pretty or stylish but entirely necessary.
Like a termite contract.
If you aren’t familiar with how that works, there are countless national and local termite companies that offer annual contracts. The purpose of these contracts is to identify any active or previous termite activity, treat any active termites, and insure against future damage.
Termites love wood and paper. In no time at all, they’ll devour it all. The above picture is…or should I say was…a crate of books. Within 10 years, the termites had their way with that crate. That crate was inside a structure WITHOUT a termite contract.
Why is it important? Part of the annual termite contract requires a visit by the termite company that would have identified this damage much sooner and treated the active termites. Without that contract, the termites were free to invade and eat- without any treatment.
When I found the crate of books, I saw visible, active termites. By knowing what they look like, it can help you to identify their presence. The bad news is once they’re visible, there will be damage. The damage caused by termites is fast and usually expensive. They can erode foundations & structures and weaken a house…worse, prevent future sales of a property due to the damage.
As a Realtor, I have seen minor and major termite damage. I’ve seen 2x4s left in dust. I’ve seen sheetrock destroyed by termite tunnels.
I often get several questions regarding termite contracts from clients. Knowing the answers is crucial to protecting your investment!
Am I required to have a termite contract on my home?
In the state of Arkansas, you are not required to have a termite contract. You can live in your house 30 years and never have to pay for a termite contract, but one thing I tell my clients “You WILL pay…either pay now or pay later, but you will pay.” While you might save the $100(ish) a year, you will eventually pay when the damage is done.
How does a termite contract affect the sale of my home?
Again, in the state of Arkansas, you will need a termite certificate to close a house. That means that as a seller you’ll have a one time payment to the termite company to certify the condition of the house. Even if you’ve never had a termite contract, you will have to have a termite certificate.
So, what’s the difference between a termite contract & certificate?
A termite contract is an annual contract you have with the termite company. As stated above, that contract will provide you with professionals annually inspecting your home, treating damage, and preventing further damage. A certificate is a one time visit by the termite company and states the current termite conditions. As part of the certificate, the buyers get a one year contract. (Kind of confusing, I know). This is usually (but not required) at the seller’s expense. At the end of the one year, the buyer has the option to keep that termite contract that was provided by the seller, terminate the contract, or switch termite companies.
What if I don’t get a termite contract?
Well, you’re playing with fire…especially in certain parts of the country. It does not take long for termites to invade and cause catastrophic damages. I’ve seen sales fall through because of structural damage caused by termites. Once termites get into your foundation, you can have unbelievable damage (code for EXPENSIVE). If you’re willing to spend $100,000, $350,000, or whatever amount purchasing a home, isn’t $100ish/year reasonable to protect that investment?
If I see termites, is it a lost cause?
No, actually. If you see termites or your termite company identifies them as part of their annual visit (with a contract), there are several strategies they can use to kill them and prevent future damage. With most termite contracts, if any future damage is caused by termites after treatment, they “insure” that financially in the contract.
Am I required to use a certain termite company?
No. For example, I do not like working with Terminix at all. You may have a company you don’t like. You have the freedom to use whichever national or local company of your choice. If you purchase a home, as stated above, the seller will have a termite certificate with a termite company of their choice. That is usually good for one year. At the end of that year, you are not required to stay with that termite company. You can switch to another company. I always suggest calling around and getting rates to see if you’re getting the best deal and best coverage.
How can I identify termites?
The biggest red flag for termites is tunnels. They create tunnels in whatever they’re eating. You can see in the picture of the book and the 2×4 that there are tunnels. Even though no visible termites are present in the picture, there is visible damage that is caused solely by termites. The second you see this you should call your termite company immediately…if you opted out of the termite contract, you still need to call a termite company immediately.