I couldn’t believe the panic in my friend’s voice. “I think I have termites!” she called into the phone. “What should I do?” Since I was familiar with this question during my more than 46 years of experience in the real estate sector, I gave my standard answer: “Have an inspection carried out!”
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. It is for this reason that I have also recommended that she do her duty of care before deciding on a pest or termite killer.
The New Mexico Department of Agriculture recommends obtaining “at least two or three offers.” With any listing, it is important to know if the company is properly licensed, has the necessary insurance, is using employees or subcontractors to carry out the work, and what type of chemicals will be used. Determining the length of a warranty is also important. 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.
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When you’re sure you’ve found the right company, it’s time to see 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 are a number of remedial measures, 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 removal to show 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 property. The company offered to fix the issue for around $ 1,200, which the seller thought was a ton of money for what seemed like minor work.
After further questioning, the termite company announced that they were ready to offer a cure 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 beetles would not return for three years.
Why didn’t the company announce the $ 300 option at the same time as the $ 1,200 option? The answer to this question lies with the individual termite inspector. Typically, the more expensive option comes into play when termites are found in the dwelling structure and the entire structure needs treatment. Termite infestations outside the building can often be selectively treated at much lower cost. NMDA project manager for pesticide applicator licensing, Marjorie Lewis, agrees. According to Lewis, “limited treatments are legal if instructions are given on the pesticide label”.
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After some negotiations, the buyer and seller agreed to separate the renovation work from the 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 and a guarantee to eradicate any termites that could reappear within three years of closing.
Even if you find that you actually want the “full month,” 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 applied at a designated rate. This rate, multiplied by the number of meters of perimeter to be treated, determines the amount of chemical needed. When comparing offers, homeowners should also consider the chemicals a business is planning to use.
“Some termiticides offer longer protection than others and therefore cost more,” says NMDA.
Work is a different matter. To treat an entire structure, a chemical barrier must be injected around the foundation of a house. Injecting pesticides into the ground is easy, but drilling concrete paths and driveways is a lot of work. How much is it? It depends on the number of running meters around the structure, the amount of concrete and the hourly rate with which the workers are paid.
One of the best preventative measures a homeowner can take is to make sure that firewood, plant stakes, dead plant material, leaves, and the like are at least five feet from the perimeter of the building. Wood and cellulose products are like a salad bar to termites.
With a little care and a little time to do their homework, every consumer can be assured of getting proper 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 broker and President of Gary Sandler Inc., Realtors in Las Cruces. He is happy to answer questions and can be reached at 575-642-2292 or Gary@GarySandler.com.