5 Warning Signs of Pest Infestation Every House Buyer Needs to Know
Shopping for a new home is exhausting. The realtor drags you from place to place and afterward all you can remember is the one with the orange shag carpet. Obvious flaws like moldy walls or leaning foundations make it easy to weed out some of the houses. However, there are often hidden flaws you don’t find until you’ve taken possession. One of those is pest infestation. You need to know the signs of pest infestation to look for when buying a home.
Why do I need to know the signs of pest infestation?
Friends of mine just had a battle with mice. Those critters were nesting in their walls and chewing holes in the wood, insulation, and wiring. It wasn’t long before the mice compromised the house’s electrical system. It took a pest control company weeks to get rid of all the rodents. On top of the pest extermination bill, they also had to call an electrician to rewire a fourth of their home. Ouch!
Bedbugs are notoriously hard to exterminate. They can hide in the seams of peeling wallpaper and gaps in the baseboards. The little bloodsuckers multiply quickly, and it takes several specialized treatments to get them under control. If they ever establish themselves in your furniture, you may as well buy all new beds, sofas, and linens.
You need to get rid of pests because the damage they cause is EXPENSIVE! Plus, there is that other little thing called disease. Bugs and rodents carry all sorts of potentially harmful illnesses.
The Top 5 Warning Signs of Pest Infestation
There are several different areas to check for pest infestation signs when buying a home. Always look in the kitchen. The majority of your rodents and insects prefer to hang around garbage and food. Bathrooms, attics, and basements are also places where you should check for signs of pest infestation. Don’t forget to inspect the outside of the home. Walls do not keep out the critters. If you see rodents outside, then I guarantee there are some inside.
#1 – Live Bugs
This one is obvious. If you walk into a home that’s for sale and fleas jump up on your legs, there is a problem. Look for ants moving along the baseboards and termites around the foundation. Open up kitchen cabinets and look for roaches. They like to hide in dark places, near food or trash.
#2 – Dead Bugs
One would assume that a homeowner trying to sell their house will probably make some attempt to keep it clean. If you walk in and you see some dead bugs lying around, then stop and think. Is the rest of the house tidy? If so, those bugs are probably “newly dead.” That means there is an active infestation occurring in that house or they just had it treated. You often need multiple treatments for a complete extermination. Make sure the seller pays for that, not you!
#3 – Droppings
Most people recognize mouse droppings. Check under the sink and in the pantry. Make sure you don’t see any little black pellets. If you do, the house has mice. Another thing to look for is roach droppings. If you see what looks like small piles of coffee grounds, there is a good chance it is cockroach feces.
#4 – Shredded Paper or Gnawed Wood
Rodents like to build nests. Be sure to poke around in all the little nooks and crannies. If you see wads of shredded paper, piles of grass, or wood that’s gnawed, red flags should go up. In the attic, you should check for evidence of squirrel nests. Squirrels are even more destructive than mice.
#5 – Weird Odors and Strange Noises
Beware the smell of ammonia! Rodent urine smells musky and of ammonia. The smell is often just as hard to get rid of as are the mice themselves. Bed Bugs have a sweet, slightly nauseating smell. If you get a whiff of something similar, start looking for small lentil sized bugs. If there is an odor, then there are enough of them for you to find.
As you are moving through the house, be wary of scratching noises. Anything like that should clue you into the fact that you are not alone on the premises. Since people don’t have claws, chances are the noise is coming from some type of rodent.
Get the House Inspected for Pest Infestation Before Buying
Never buy a home without a termite inspection. Termites can cause thousands of dollars of hidden damage. Ideally, the seller will have had the home inspected yearly and can show records of both the inspections and any treatments they ordered. If not, then you should only make an offer contingent on a termite inspection.
Even if you didn’t see any warning signs of pest infestation during your walk-through, you should still have the home inspected. Pest control experts know where to look for signs of a pest infestation. If you know of the problem ahead of time, you can negotiate treatment as part of your purchase contract.