Don’t let termites — or termite firm — eat you out of home and residential


I couldn’t believe the panic in my friend’s voice.

“I think I have termites!” she shouted into the phone. “What should I do?” Since I was no stranger to this question during my more than 45 years in the real estate industry, I gave my standard answer:

“Get an Inspection!”

While the decades-old answer to my friend’s question may have been the standard, what happens before, during, and after a termite inspection is clearly not the case. This is also why I recommended that she do her due diligence before choosing a pest or termite killer.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture recommends seeking “at least two or three quotes” ( With any listing, it is important to know if the company is properly licensed, has the necessary insurance, is using employees or subcontractors to do the job, and what kind of chemicals they will be using. It is also important to determine the length of a guarantee. It’s easy to get a 10 or 20 year warranty that requires you to pay for regular inspections – whether you want them or not.

Once you are satisfied that you have found the right company, it is time to determine if there is indeed an infestation. To do this, the pest controller inspects both the inside and the outside of the property. This is where my “not the same” theory comes into play. There can be a number of remedies depending on the type of infestation and the location where it is found.

I once sold a home to a buyer whose lender requested a termite release that said the property was free of signs of active infestation. The termite company hired by the seller found active termites on a fence post near the perimeter of the house. The company offered to fix the issue for around $ 1,200, which the seller thought was a ton of money for a seemingly minor job.

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With further questions, the termite company announced that it was ready to offer an agent that would solve the problem for just under $ 300. Why the big difference in price? The more expensive option included additional treatment that would prevent termites in the future, as well as a guarantee that the bugs would not return for three years.

Why didn’t the company announce the $ 300 option at the same time as the $ 1,200 option was presented? The answer to this question lies with the individual termite inspector. Usually the more expensive option comes into play when termites are found in the structure of the house and the entire structure needs treatment. Termite infestations outside the structure can often be treated on-site at a much lower cost. Marjorie Lewis, NMDA project manager for pesticide applicator licensing, agrees. According to Lewis, “limited treatments are legal when instructions are given on the pesticide label.”

After some negotiation, the buyer and seller agreed to separate remedial action from preventive work. As a result, the seller paid around $ 300 for the proofreading work. and the buyer negotiated a price of around $ 700 for the company’s preventive work, guaranteeing the elimination of termites that could reappear within three years of the closure.

Even if you find that you actually want the “full monty,” it’s still worth buying the price. The cost of preventive treatment, which consists of injecting a liquid pesticide into the soil around a structure, is easy to determine. The NMDA requires that all pesticides be used in a labeled amount. This rate – multiplied by the number of linear feet of perimeter to be treated – determines the amount of chemicals needed. When comparing offers, homeowners should also consider the chemicals a company suggests use.

“Some termiticides offer longer protection than others and therefore cost more,” says NMDA.

Work is a different matter. Treating an entire structure requires injecting a chemical barrier around the foundation of a house. Injecting pesticides into the ground is easy enough, but drilling concrete paths and driveways is a lot of work. How much is it? It depends on the number of linear feet around the structure, the amount of concrete, and the hourly rate at which the workers are paid.

One of the best preventative measures a homeowner can take is to make sure that all firewoods, plant stakes, dead plant materials, leaves, and the like are at least three feet from the perimeter of the structure. Wood and cellulose products are like a salad bar to termites.

With a little care and some homework time, any consumer can feel confident that they are receiving appropriate treatment at a fair price. For more information, contact NMDA at 575-646-2134.

See you when you close!

Gary Sandler is a full time real estate agent and President of Gary Sandler Inc., Las Cruces Real Estate Agent. He is happy to answer questions and can be reached at 575-642-2292 or

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