There are two reasons to get a termite inspection when you are buying a house on Long Island. Either you are concerned about the possibility of termites munching away inside the walls of your new home, or it’s a required part of your real estate transaction.
Let’s start with the second reason first. Here’s what you need to consider:
- VA loans, some FHA loans and particular financial institutions require a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) report as part of the loan application process. So check with your loan officer to see if you need one. It’s also specified by many lenders that the report be dated within 30-days of closing. Again, check with your lender on this. If you need a recent WDO at the closing table you can either have the inspection done at the same time as your home inspection, then rechecked and a new report issued closer to the closing date, or wait to do your WDO at a time closer to the closing.
- Also, what a lender wants to receive is called a “clean” WDO report, meaning that no evidence of wood destroying organisms or damaged wood was found by the inspector. Because wood rot, indicated on the report as “wood decay fungi,” along with areas of rotten wood are part of the inspection, your report may not be clean due only to a few spots of wood rot. Any areas of wood damage—whether due to termites, wood-destroying beetles, or wood decay fungi—have to be repaired, then the house reinspected, to satisfy the requirement for a clean WDO.
- Some inspectors, like us, will come back at no additional charge to reinspect after wood repairs or to satisfy the requirement for a recent inspection report at closing. Be sure to check on the cost, if any, to reinspect before you hire a termite inspector.
- Even if your lender does not require a WDO inspection report, you may have a clause in your sales contract with a dollar allowance for any necessary WDO-related treatment and/or repairs. In order to take advantage of this clause, or even to negotiate compensation for necessary treatment and/or repairs due to wood destroying organisms if you don’t have the clause, you will need to present the seller with a WDO report. So a WDO report is often useful as a negotiation tool. In New York, the presence or absence of termites or other wood-eating pests can only be reported for a real estate transaction on the state mandated form “NPMA-33” by a licensed pest control operator or their employees that are licensed as WDO inspectors.
If your primary concern is making sure your potential home does not have termites, here’s a couple of facts to review when deciding whether or not to have it inspected:
- Homebuilders are required to treat the soil under the footprint of a new home with a termite-killing chemical that lasts for eight to ten years. So a new home, or one that is just a few years old, is unlikely to have subterranean termites. Subterraneans live in the ground and come up into the home through vein-like mud tubes to feed on the wood, then return to their nest in the ground and are moisture dependent. But another species, called a drywood termite, is not ground-moisture dependent and can form a colony and live anywhere in the walls of attic of a home. Luckily, they are slower to colonize and do not damage a home as quickly as subterraneans. So it is less likely, but not impossible, for a newer home to have termites.
- If the house is already under a termite bond/warranty by a pest control company, it is often less expensive to use that company for your WDO report. At some companies, the report fee is deducted from the startup cost of a new termite warranty/bond after you have bought the house. It’s worth noting that termite bonds do not typically include coverage for drywood termites or wood rot.
Whatever your concerns or objectives, a termite-WDO inspection is a sensible thing to do for a smart homebuyer and part of due diligence for real estate transactions.