Do I need a pest inspection before buying a home?

Pest inspections are separate from a home inspection, but may be a necessary measure to get ahead of any unwanted pest issues.

Elissa

Elissa Suh

Published June 3, 2020

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Pest inspections are conducted separately from a home inspection, and may be required by certain states, counties, or lenders

  • Termites and other common pests can cause irreparable damage to your property that can be expensive to repair

  • Pest inspection costs are fairly low, and a pest control company may waive the fee if you decide to use their services if your property has any pest issues

When you buy a house, you’ll most likely get it inspected as part of the mortgage process. The home inspector checks for any potential damage and safety hazards, like cracked foundations and moisture control, but usually not for unwanted critters.

A pest inspection is conducted separately from your home inspection and covers common pests, like ants and moths, but also mice, scorpions, or snakes, depending on where you live. The most nefarious pest problem a homeowner may face is a termite infestation. Termites and other wood-destroying organisms will require pest control and can cause structural damage to your property that is costly to repair.

Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover pest issues, which is why you should consider getting a pest inspection before you buy a home. Depending on the state, county, or even the lender, pest inspections may even be required. It’s a small cost to pay in the long run — the cost of a pest inspection may only be $100, while pest control services can reach into the thousands, depending on how bad the infestation is.

What happens during a pest inspection?

A pest management professional will check both the interior and exterior of the property for any damage or potential damage from destructive pests. Most commonly a pest inspector will look for signs of moisture, which attracts wood-destroying insects like termites, and pest activity, like droppings, discarded wings, and tunnelling.

Pest inspections can cover any of the following:

  • Carpenter ants
  • Bees
  • Bedbugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Earwigs
  • Fleas
  • Mosquitoes
  • Moths
  • Rodents
  • Scorpions
  • Silverfish
  • Spiders
  • Termites
  • Wasps

Some pest control services specialize in bedbugs or termites, so you may need to ask for a bedbug inspection or termite inspections separately from an inspection for more common pests.

After the inspection is completed, you'll receive a report or certificate that details any problem areas and if further treatment is required, whether it’s a one-time extermination or longer-term pest management.

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Do I need to get a pest inspection if I’m buying a house?

A pest inspection is separate from a home inspection. A home inspector may point out certain areas of damage to a property, but only a pest inspector can definitively determine if there are unwanted pests, how big the infestation is, and how long it's been there.

Some states, counties and lenders may require a pest inspection to be conducted before you purchase a home. For example, if you are taking out a VA loan, you must get a pest inspection if the VA determines your home is in a state that is more susceptible to termite infestations (usually due the climate and geography).

Does a homeseller need a pest inspection?

If you’re a home seller, you may want to consider getting pest inspections prior to putting your home on the market, especially if it’s older or you live in an area that is prone to high heat and humidity. You can boost the buyer’s confidence and sell the house faster if your home is pest-free and you already have the inspection report to prove it. If the property does have a pest problem, then you can get ahead of it and call the exterminator before any buyers come along.

Remember that homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage or repair and treatment from other pests.

How much does pest inspection cost?

The pest inspection may cost anywhere from $75 to a few hundred, depending on the size of the home and the pest control company. Keep in mind that the cost of inspection does not include the price of any treatment that might be recommended if the property has an infestation. Some pest control specialists may offer free inspections, under the condition that you use their services if it turns out you do have a pest problem.

An experienced real estate agent should be able to recommend a pest inspection company.

Who pays for pest inspection?

When you buy a house, who pays for the pest inspection cost is negotiable. The buyer or the seller may pay the costs. The real estate agent can tell you what’s typical in your area (including any state or local regulations) and whether or not you might be able to get the pest inspection covered through seller concessions. Regardless of who pays, it’s best to get a pest inspection done before closing on a home.

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About the author

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa Suh

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She writes about estate planning, mortgages, and occasionally health insurance. In the past she has written about film and music.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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