VA loan termite & pest inspections: Everything you need to know
Leaky basements, blown fuses and backed-up plumbing are a few headaches homeowners have to deal with from time to time, but none compare to the potential risk posed by termites and other pests.
Repairs stemming from infestations cost homeowners billions of dollars in repairs each year, and can even lead to the destruction of the home completely. These unwelcome guests can do serious harm to the structure of your home while posing a health risk to anyone living there.
Before approving a VA mortgage, the Department of Veterans Affairs will usually need to ensure that risk is minimized. While it might not be required in every state, termite and pest inspections are a vital part of the VA home loan process.
Risk of pests in the home
Pests in the home won’t only throw a wrench in your mortgage plans, but they also present a major health hazard. Anyone with respiratory issues, such as asthma, are at particular risk when a home is infested. Insect droppings and carcasses release harmful allergens as they decompose, which could be harmful to anyone, especially those with preexisting health issues.
In addition to the health risk, pests like termites can do serious damage to the structure of your property when the problem goes unchecked. Damage from these insects can cost upwards of thousands of dollars in repairs, depending on the extent of the problem. In extreme cases, termites can cause irreparable damage and the home has to be demolished.
Clearly, your lender, the VA and you all have an interest in avoiding these issues entirely. Pest inspections aren’t only a necessary step of the mortgage process, but can save you from expensive headaches in the future.
How do pest inspections work?
In addition to your appraisal and home inspection, your new home will have to pass any locally mandated termite and pest inspections. Depending on where you’re located, and the type of home you’re looking to occupy, these requirements can vary.
While most states mandate an inspection by default, some only require further testing if evidence of an infestation is uncovered during the home appraisal. These tests might be discretionary in some states, but buyers will still have to comply with the inspection requirements of their local government. Here are the states where pest inspections are not automatically required:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Be sure to check with VA.gov for your area’s local VA mortgage approval requirements.
Ants, mice, termites and moths are just a few of the many damaging infestations that can be prevented by a thorough pest inspection. Most of the time, a more general home inspection is conducted as part of the mortgage process. While this step identifies structural issues and needed repairs, it does not specifically look for unwelcome critters in the home. In order to fulfill the VA’s requirement, the pest inspection will need to be scheduled separately.
A licensed pest inspector should always be brought in to conduct a thorough review of both the inside and outside of the property. Any signs of moisture, tunneling or droppings will be uncovered during this step and brought to your attention.
While some inspection services offer general checks of the property, some specialize in certain insects or infestations. You may need to hire multiple inspectors if one cannot fulfill the necessary tests.
Homeowners insurance won’t usually cover expenses caused by pests, so paying for coverage won’t protect you from the cost of treating the property. Most insurance companies and lenders view infestations as preventable issues that can be avoided with proper maintenance. Since homeowners insurance is designed to protect you against unexpected damages, your provider won’t pay for damages stemming from pests.
If you’re using a VA streamline refinance, a pest inspection won’t be required unless the appraiser finds evidence of an infestation during their inspection.
VA pest inspection cost
VA pest inspections usually cost between $50-$200, but could be more if multiple tests are required. Even if your local government doesn’t require termite or pest inspections, you’ll still need an inspection if the appraiser or home inspector notes evidence of an infestation.
However, if you’re buying a home using a VA mortgage, you won’t be expected to pay for the pest inspection. In most states, excluding only nine, the seller covers this expense and provides the lender with an invoice confirming the test was conducted.
If you’re buying a home in one of these states, you’ll have the option to pay for the test yourself:
When termites or other pests are discovered, the issue will need to be resolved and the property will need to pass another test in order for the VA mortgage to go through.
Treatment of a pest problem can be a little more expensive, typically running at least $1,000 for mild infestations. Exterminator costs might be steep, but checking for these issues before closing could save your home and keep the property intact.
Even if they’re not required in your area, scheduling an inspection is always a good idea.
While it might seem like another inconvenient hurdle when applying for a VA mortgage, a termite and pest inspection can not only save you thousands of dollars, but might help keep your home standing in the long run.
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