Don't Wait To Make an Appointment for a Termite Inspection
Delay #1: Ordering the Termite Inspection Near Close of Escrow Date
There can be varying reasons why this happens, but the fact is, ordering a termite inspection when it is crunch time (near close of escrow) is best avoided.
First, getting an appointment usually takes 3 days. Preparing the termite report takes another day. If the property needs to be fumigated, expect another week. Consider also the preparations that are needed to do the fumigation. The property owner may have to look for a place to sleep for at least 2 nights. If there are pets, plants, food items there are preparations for these too.
Second, rush inspections are prone to mistakes. If everyone involved in the transaction is pressured to finish things in a hurry, there is a greater chance of committing errors. On the termite inspector’s part, these errors may be missing termite or dry rot damage, or leaving out anything that can have a potential significant monetary consequence, either by missing them while performing the inspection or when typing up the report.
Lesson: Ideally, order the termite inspection even before you open escrow or at least, immediately after you have opened escrow. This way, there will be less hassle from unnecessary pressures of rushing things and equally important, property owners know ahead of time the cost of the termite repairs for budgeting purposes.
Delay #2: Read and Understand the Termite Report
Given that there is a countless pile of paperwork needed in a real estate transaction along with the additional 9-page termite report with all the codes to be deciphered ex. 1A, 8B, 10D, etc., you can see that another potential bottleneck is to be ignorant of what the termite report says and knowing what the lender requires.
One common case is when a termite report says that there are water stains on the roof sheathing inside the attic or garage. The report says that although this is a Section 2 item, it recommends the stain checked by a licensed roofer. Since it is a Section 2 item, it is assumed that it does not have to be taken care of. Now it is 3 days until the close of escrow and suddenly the lender says that because of the water stain, the roof has to be certified by a licensed roofer. How are you going to deal with this?
Another common case is when a termite inspector does not have access to the walls of the garage because of storage and personal belongings. The law says that the areas that cannot be inspected or are inaccessible have to be identified on the termite report. Now it is almost the close of escrow and the buyer demands that the garage be thoroughly inspected. The seller obliges and sends out the termite inspector to inspect the previously inaccessible areas. The delay comes when and if the termite inspector finds infestation or damage in these areas that needs to be taken care of.
Lesson: It is best to understand the termite report by reading it and communicating with the inspector. Equally important, identify all potential causes of delay and act on it immediately.
Delay #3: Team up With A Reliable Termite Inspector
Note that I said reliable termite inspector and not necessarily a termite company. You may call a termite company because they are a nationally recognized company and you were impressed by their full-page ad in the yellow pages. However, you may end up with an inspector who does not want their uniforms to get dirty by climbing up inside the attic (this is not to say that there are not good inspectors in bigger companies).
Having a knowledgeable termite inspector as part of your team can drastically relieve you of unnecessary delays. The ideal termite inspector is one that has experience with real estate transactions and is a team player who gives importance to your schedules and timetable. Communication is also important in that the inspector should be able to explain the termite reports and estimates clearly.
Lesson: Teaming up with good, reliable people is one way to make sure of a smooth real estate transaction. It is not uncommon for real estate agents to work with a particular mortgage lender, escrow officer, contractor, title officer, etc. Ask your friends and co-workers and they may be able to point you to a reliable termite company or inspector with whom they have worked with.
Note: This article was intended as an overview only and thoroughness of the subject matter is not the main objective. It is always recommended to consult with a licensed inspector for more details.