Termites love to eat and wood is their favorite food. They are industrious little critters and abundant in Southern California. Controlling their voracious appetite is big business and is referred to in the California Residential Purchase Agreement. There is even a special form for buyer and seller to sign designating who will pay for the report to check for termites, the work required to repair the damage they left behind and the fumigation if they are still present.
Yesterday, I drove by one of my listings currently under contract and also under the fumigation tent. I like to verify the work is on schedule especially as this particular home will close escrow today and lose the tent before buyers receive their new keys at 5:00 PM. The repair work was completed before the fumigation (new wood will be treated) and termite completion is already in the lender’s hands since they require it as a condition of funding the buyer’s loan.
The bulk of termite repair and clearance expenses usually falls on the seller’s shoulders. The termite report divides the repairs needed into Section 1 (current damage and infestation) and Section 2 (conditions that may lead to future infestation). In California, the seller is usually responsible for Section 1 items and the buyer is responsible for Section 2, but there are exceptions to every rule and everything is open to negotiations in the real estate world.
Termite repairs can be a major expense for sellers if it has been years since the property was inspected or treated. If infestation is caught early it may be treated locally without wrapping the entire structure in a colorful tent and pumping gas into every nook and cranny. However, termites may still be living next door and they observe no boundary lines. A proactive periodic checkup or annual exam will be good for your home’s health and perhaps easier on your wallet too.