Exciting times! You have made the decision to purchase a new home! The thought brings so many emotions; excitement, stress, fatigue, elation, stress again… So many options and so little time. Often we find ourselves spending endless amounts of time online checking for new homes on the market, going through listing after listing, working towards making that perfect decision. Then, we narrow our search to a few homes and we make the call to a real estate agent to start looking at homes and getting a feel for properties that pictures can’t give.
As you enter the first round of homes on your search so many things come to mind, especially when looking at existing homes. Is it structurally sound? Look at that crack in the wall. Has there been water damage? Look at that brown stain on the ceiling. How old is the roof? Looks like some of the shingles are missing. The list goes on as we see the blemishes and wonder if they are significant. Many times pests never enter our mind yet there is nightmare story after nightmare story in the news of infestations from snakes and mice to spiders and ants that the unsuspecting buyer acquires without knowing it. Here are three simple suggestions that will help you make good observations as you research your new home purchase.
#1 – Termites
These destructive pests that cause structural problems with homes. Termite issues can cause thousands of dollars in damage and take extensive treatment to eradicate. Simple observations can be made as you research and inspect a potential new home for termites. First, as you walk around the home inspect around windows, doors and molding for any signs of sawdust. Second, if the home has a basement or crawl space, make sure it is inspected for mud tubes that rise from the floor to the floor joists or walls of the home. Third, as you walk around, especially places like the garage or an unfinished basement or crawl space, observe dead insect carcasses and look for any sign of dead termites. The great thing is that it is normal in the real estate world to get a termite inspection prior to buying the home. Make sure this is completed. If you find any evidence of termites do not get hoodwinked into purchasing the home based on the guarantee of a homeowner. Verify that treatment is completed and that there is a warranty. If there isn’t, walk away. As they say, there are many fish in the sea!
#2 – Mice
Rodents cause several problems when they get settled into a structure. Mice carry diseases; they chew through wires and create all sorts of sanitation issues. They can be treated but when they reach infestation levels are hard to control. The first observation and question to be asked about mice relates to how long a structure has been vacant. The longer the home has been unoccupied the longer mice have had time to get in and set up a home. Be wary of homes that have been unoccupied for several months to years. Second, mice droppings are a dead giveaway to the presence of mice. They are normal to find in the garage but if found in the home be very observant of places where there may be a void in a wall, cabinet or other structure. Third, if there is a major concern about mice, call a pest control company and have it conduct an inspection for mice. They may use a black light to inspect for mouse urine which can help you understand the level of mice activity and the source.
#3 – Spiders
Many wonderful movies remind us that spiders do good things like eat other bugs, but let’s be honest…nobody wants them staying in the same home as you rent free. It is also important to consider that some spiders are venomous and can pose a threat to human health and well-being. More importantly, spiders are wonderful indicators of moisture issues. It may be as simple as a high humidity level, but a fair amount of spiders often indicates a closer look at moisture contents especially if there are pipes around.
Are there other issues to inspect for or be aware of when looking for a new home? Sure! A couple other general observations can be made around a home to help you be aware of and control pest issues. Inspect weather stripping around the doors of a home. Make sure that garage doors shut snug against the frame of the door and the ground. Make sure there are no other visible openings that may be avenues for pest from the outside of the home. And most of all, if you observe these issues present in or around a home, know that you will probably have an issue or two to deal with once you purchase the home. Truth is most older homes have some sort of pest issue. Get an inspection and/or treatment prior to purchasing your new home. Begin your time in your new home with a clean bill of health from the bug guy!