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Are Termites a Deal Breaker When Purchasing a House?

Termites are a nightmare to find in a home. The wood framing of a house provides plenty of food and shelter for termites, but the damage they cause can ruin the building. 

So should termites be a deal-breaker when you’re looking at purchasing a home?

Termites are only a deal-breaker unless there is an active infestation or the house has suffered extensive structural damage. If you know there are or have been termites in a home, get a full inspection and consult with an exterminator before making your final decision. 

Should You Buy A Home With Termites?

Two men taking a picture while shaking hands in front of a house.

Termites are a very common problem in wood-framed homes. Older houses, in particular, suffer from termites as they don’t eat the pressure-treated wood used in newer houses. 

Some areas around the US are more likely to have termite problems. Most of the Southeastern US and the warmer regions of California are high-risk areas for termites. 

In some places, it may be impossible to find a home that hasn’t ever had a termite infestation. 

The good news is that prior infestations are not an instant deal breaker. As long as the infestation has been eliminated and any damages to the home have been repaired, it’s generally okay to buy the home. 

If you do want to buy a home with a termite history, be sure to get a professional inspector to check for damages and a pest expert to verify there are no active infestations. 

If there is an active infestation, you shouldn’t buy the home. 

If there is extensive structural damage to the home that hasn’t been repaired, you generally shouldn’t buy the home. 

Buyers can negotiate a lower price or include termite treatment and repairs in the contract to buy the home. 

You don’t have to let termites deter you from buying a home, but it’s important to cover your bases and ensure the problem either has or will be taken care of for you. 

How Do Termites Damage A Home’s Value?

Termites pose a serious threat to your home, because of the damage they can cause. An infestation can weaken the structural integrity of a house, making it unsafe to live in. 

Over time, those damages only get worse. Rot can set in where framing has been damaged. 

Any kind of damage can hurt the value of a home. Homes with extensive damage might be impossible to sell simply because they can’t pass a safety inspection. 

Sellers are legally required to disclose active or resolved termite inspections in any home they try to sell. 

Possible damages aside, the potential for damage and reputation that comes with an infestation can force your asking price lower. 

Homes with damages need to be repaired and homes with resolved infestations need preventative measures to ensure the termites don’t come back. 

Both of these are costs that get factored into the home’s value for a buyer and cause it to sell for less. 

Most home insurance policies don’t cover termite damage. It can cost thousands of dollars to repair termite damages and that will usually have to come out of pocket. 

The seller will need to either lower their asking price or fix the damages before selling the home if they want fair value. 

Can A Home Be Saved From Termites?

A home can be saved from termites. An exterminator will be able to eliminate most termite infestations and any damages the insects do can be repaired by professionals.

Neither an exterminator nor a contractor is a cheap option to save a home, but they’re both necessary.

Before making any repairs, the termite infestation must be eliminated. A professional exterminator should be able to implement a plan to kill off the infestation. 

You then need to have a licensed pest professional verify that no termites remain in the home and make a plan to prevent future infestations. At this point, it’s okay to go ahead and hire a contractor to begin repairing any damage the termites have done. 

While rare, termites can do so much damage that the house can’t be saved. 

This amount of damage requires the homeowners not to act on obvious signs of termite damage and allow an infestation to go on for quite a long time. 

The most destructive termites can cause significant damage to a home in as little as two years. Less destructive species take longer to ruin a home, closer to four or five years. 

The best way to keep termites out is through annual treatments. 

This will help ensure a termite colony doesn’t have time to do major damage to your home and that if an infestation does occur, it will be much easier to take care of. 

Signs Of A Termite Infestation And Damage In A Home

The beginning stages of a termite infestation unfortunately just look like minor water damage in a lot of cases. This makes it hard to identify before the colony becomes established.

By the time you have seen obvious signs of an infestation, the termites have likely been around for quite a while. 

Signs of termite damage can look like:

  • Sagging ceilings, walls, or floors.
  • What looks like water damage around the home.
  • Maze-like designs cut into the wood framing of the house. 
  • Mud tunnels on the home’s foundation. 
  • Actively seeing termites in your home. 

As the infestation advances, it can cause serious damage to the structure of your home. Ceilings and floors may end up collapsing. You may also end up smelling a musky or moldy smell around the home.

Less serious problems can occur such as carpets, flooring, or furniture being ruined.

You should also keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Pinpoint holes in drywall.
  • Hollow-sounding wood.
  • Discolored or peeling paint.
  • Piles of wings that look like fish scales.
  • Piles of feces (resembles salt and pepper).
  • Windows or doors that are stuck. 

All of these are signs that termites are present and will begin appearing before the larger signs of damage. They’re some of the only ways to get on top of an infestation and catch it before major problems start.


 Termites aren’t an automatic deal-breaker when it comes to buying a home. If you’re looking to buy a home with a history of termites, get an inspector to check for damages and a pest expert to verify there isn’t an active infestation. 

You can negotiate a lower price or include repairs and treatment in your contract. Termites are a common problem and shouldn’t keep you from buying a home, but you need to make sure the home you’re buying is safe.