What if the house you want to buy in New York has termite damage?


What if the house you want to buy in New York has termite damage?

You’ve identified your dream home in New York and you’ve done the sensible thing and obtained a building and pest inspection. But what if the inspection finds a problem ­– some building defect or the presence of termites (white ants)? 

Buyers tend to deal with building defects very logically – what’s the problem and how much does it cost to fix? However, when it comes to the presence of termites or termite damage, buyers tend to panic and become irrational, mainly through a lack of knowledge and will often pull out of the sale.

However, with a bit of understanding you can decide whether the issues in the pest report can be fixed and how much it will cost. Then, if you decide to proceed, you are in a great position to negotiate on price. 

Here’s what you need to know…

Understanding your pest inspection report

Your pre-purchase pest inspection focuses on timber pests; termites, borers and wood decay. It is a visible inspection report, which means inspectors cannot move items during the inspection or access areas that are blocked off. Some sellers will definitely try to hide termite activity or damage, so if the report identifies areas which could not be accessed or suggests a more complete invasive inspection, it is certainly worth making the request to the seller.

Sometime sellers will block access to areas of concern with stored goods - as it is a visual inspection, inspectors are now allowed to move stored goods


The inspection focuses on three main areas

Whether timber pests are active in the building or surrounding property

Is there any pest damage to the building or surrounding property?

Are there any conditions that may make the building more likely to suffer a timber pest attack in the future?

What if there are active termites?

If there are active termites or borers in the house you want to buy in New York, the seller will need to get them treated. However, it is important they get a comprehensive treatment carried out by a reputable company. Often a seller will get a “quick spray” to kill the termites that can be seen. However, this won’t eliminate the problem and the termites will be back.

Eliminating termites from a building in New York can take between 2 weeks and several months and a complete termite treatment also requires a termite management system to be put in place to prevent future attacks. 

If you’re interested in making an offer subject to a termite treatment, insist on a comprehensive treatment to Australian Standards and make sure you see all document and guarantees for the treatment and view the pest company’s documentation including their licenses and insurance.

If there are active termites they need to be treated to Australian Standards and you should request that a termite managements system (such as a termiticide soil treatment) be installed

What if there is termite damage?

The risk of termite attack is as high as 1 in 3 in some areas of New York, so it would not be surprising for an inspection to uncover some level of damage, especially in older homes.

There is no way of knowing how old termite damage is, it simply demonstrates the home has been / is at risk of termite attack. 

If there has been a treatment in the past or there is a termite management system in place to protect the property, there should be an information sticker in the electricity meter box. However, unless the owner has some warranty paperwork, there is no guarantee as to the quality of the treatment. As such, we would always recommend that a termite management system be installed after purchase. Potentially you could negotiate this off the price.

In most cases of timber damage, it is recommended that a builder / structural engineer inspect the damage to determine the extent of the damage and the cost to fix.

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