Sometimes a VA borrower doing their house-hunting forgets to ask about termite inspections, and then it catches them by surprise. Other times a VA borrower knows to ask and finds out that because of the location and area that the home is in, no termite inspection is required. It can be helpful in the VA loan and home-buying process to know in advance whether a termite inspection will be necessary before the loan can close. Termites can devastating to a home. In fact, nationwide, homeowners spend upwards of $5 billion every year combating termites and other wood-destroying pests. For this reason, the VA makes sure that every home purchased by a veteran and guaranteed by the VA is termite free.
Termites can be in any home, but the most worrisome homes are the oldest ones. When you’re worried about whether a home has termites, it can be difficult to tell for sure if there is a problem unless there’s some clear visible termite damage. Even knowing the difference between what is termite damage and what is rot can be difficult. Fortunately for the buyer, the VA has rules that are designed to protect the buyer and the property. These rules primarily have to do with the location of the home and who is allowed to pay for a termite inspection and subsequent removal if needed.
First, the VA has rules that establish in what areas termite inspections are required and what areas they are not. The VA has mapped out the country based on the risk of termite infestation in each area. For homes that are in an area that the probability is deemed “very heavy” or “moderate to heavy”, a termite inspection is required. If the probability is deemed less than moderate, the home likely will not need to have a termite inspection, unless the appraiser sees something during the appraisal that might be termite damage. The map is called the Termite Infestation Probability Map and it is published in the International Residential Code.
For the VA loan home buyer, if they are buying a home in an area where the termite probability is low or light, they won’t be required to have a termite inspection done on the home, though it’s never a bad idea. If a buyer in those areas is concerned about the possible existence of termites on the property, the buyer would have to schedule an inspection on their own or contact the VA for assistance in scheduling one. In a case such as this, the burden of paying for the inspection would most likely fall on the shoulders of the buyer. The only exception to this situation would be if there is obvious evidence of damage or infestation on the property, in which case the VA can be contacted and the borrower likely will not have to pay for the termite inspection and eradication.
In an area that is required by the VA to have a termite inspection done, the cost of the inspection cannot be covered by the buyer. It falls under the same category as other repairs that need to be done to the house before purchase and usually falls on the seller to pay for. These areas are often drawn up by state and sometimes by county, and a list of the states that require termite inspections and those that don’t is at the bottom of this article. If there is a question about borders or whether a certain area requires termite inspections, you can contact the Construction and Valuation Section at your local VA Regional Loan Center. For condos, an inspection is only required when the VA appraiser notices something that might indicate a termite problem. This is true no matter where the condo is.
Here is a list of states that require termite inspections:
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Here is a list of states where termite inspections are discretionary:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota