Question: We are under contract to buy a house in Washington, and the tremite inspector found an infestation. We are thinking about getting out of the contract. Should we? Can we?
Answer: The short answer to both questions is "probably not."
Currently, there is an ad campaign that one of the pest control companies is running that says, "Termites are monsters!" And there is a scary cartoon video of giant monstors eating the floor and furnature. But that's a huge exaggeration.
In Washington, there are three types of houses: those that have termites, those that had termites, and those that will get them. But termite infestations can be treated. There is a large group of professional termite hit men who get rid of the little buggers.
Finding termites is not an unusual in a DC real estate transaction.
What can be problematic, however, is termite damage. Even if the little guys have been chewing on the beams and other parts of the structure, repairs are usually pretty simple. And it's likely that, if the seller refuses to repair the damage, you can get out of the deal.
In 30 years of selling real estate, I've never had a transaction where the damage could not be repaired easily and inexpensively. And in almost all cases, the sellers have paid for the repairs.
Still, a huge infestation that's gone on for decades probably makes buying the house inadvisable. And you'll need to negotiate a release from the seller, and possibly a bring in an attorney if the sellers are reluctant to let go.
If you are planning a move to or from the Washington area, I can help. I am licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Please email me at Housepat@mac.com or call 202-549-5167.