Beware of Unethical Termite Inspectors!

Over the years I have seen this situation all too often: A homeowner is trying to sell his house, and trying to make the most he can out of the deal. But, during the sale course of action, he or she gets “nickel and dimed” to death over repairs or other things the buyer wants.

In many parts of the country, a home must pass a termite inspection before the bank will lend money on it. That, in itself, is not a problem. Every homeowner should want their home to be protected from termites. The problem starts when an unethical, or downright dishonest, termite inspector gets hired. These guys don’t really care about your home sale or buy. They are just looking to sell a high-dollar treatment on the houses they inspect. Here are some of the tricks they use:

1. Termites in fences, trees, stumps, scenery timbers, or other wood not attached to the house – you must treat the house. In the parts of the country where termites attack homes, you can find them all over the place. You see, termites are character’s little recyclers, and their purpose is to return cellulose back into the soil. That being the case, you need to understand that they can be found almost anywhere you find cellulose – in the yard, near the home, etc. A house should not have to be treated if termites are only found in places outside, away from the home.

2. Your home hasn’t been treated for termites in the past 5 years – you must treat the house. On the back of the termite inspection form NPMA-33, it gives the inspector the right to RECOMMEND a treatment, and one of the criteria is if there has been no treatment for termites in the past 5 years. However, the inspector MUST take other circumstances into account. They should not AUTOMATICALLY recommend a treatment on every house that exceeds the 5 year mark for treatment.

Remember, the inspector only has the strength and authority to RECOMMEND a treatment. He cannot say that is a requirement. It’s up to the bank as to whether a treatment will be required or not.

Another thing to remember: An inspector might list the home as being infested on the NPMA-33 report, and sell a treatment based on that report. However, if he marks termites in Section II of the report, and those termites are found out away from the home (tree stump, fence, etc.), and he sells a treatment, he is committing fraud by misrepresenting the actual conditions and findings of his inspection. This is because Section II of the NPMA-33 form is reserved solely for findings inside, on or under the structure, and NOT for areas away from the structure.

Homeowners who are looking at selling their home, and anyone considering buying a home, should educate themselves on all the issues involved in a home sale. When it comes to hiring inspectors, ask for references, call the Better Business Bureau, and contact your state’s pest control regulatory agency – often the state department of agriculture. Ask specific questions about the company you are considering hiring, and then make an informed decision.

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