Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tented House for Sale

Growing up in Hawaii, I took it for granted that people ought to get their houses tented for termites every ten years or so. The joke about rickety houses was always that the termites were holding hands to keep them from falling. Several times a year, the weather would be ripe for termite love, and clouds of termites would hover around the streetlights. We'd turn off all the lights and set candles by dishes of water to catch those that got into the house.

Here in California, termites don't seem nearly as omnipresent, and so I occasionally run into sellers who seem to think that because their house was better built and/or kept clean, they won't have any termite problems. Not true.

Even brand new houses can have termites deep in the wood--they just won't work their way out to a visible area for about 10 years. And if there's been extra moisture (not just weather, but badly aimed sprinklers, for instance), all the more reason to expect an infestation.

I generally tell sellers to get a termite check done as soon as possible after listing the house. Then when they get into escrow, they can go ahead and have any section one (outright infestation or situations that could soon lead to infestation) repairs made. Depending on the buyer's lender and the severity of the problem, a clean report may be required by funding or even just to get loan docs.

Several times in the past year, I've had sellers who found themselves having to get the house tented during escrow. Yes, it can be embarrassing to have that tent go over your home with the for sale sign in front. The neighbors can't help but notice. But I tell sellers that the good news is that they're definitely selling a termite-free house and that the buyers will have a warranty from the termite company. And this is much better than what happened to my husband and myself when we bought our home. Some termite work was done, but they didn't tent, and by the time we discovered live termites swarming inside our house a couple of years later, the company had gone out of business, leaving us to pay for tenting out of our own pocket.

Every year, we have a company inspect our house to nip any activity in the bud. But you have to be home and make sure the inspector is really looking closely. Ask them about any odd piles of sawdust-type material you may have seen or any dark holes appearing in the ceiling (those turned out to be subterranean termites that had gotten up through the wall and were eating our ceiling!).

There was a great article in Harper's Magazine in Aug. of 2005 about Formosan termites in New Orleans. It also had some very interesting info on the levees there, so that when I first heard about the approaching hurricane, I knew that the city was going to flood. You can read the article online at:

The Swarm

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