How to Find Hidden Pest Issues During a New Home Walk-Thru
As a real estate professional, you know your job involves a lot more than just finding qualified buyers for your listings. It’s also probably up to you to educate many of your clients on real estate sale best practices. Things like keeping their home clean for showings, regular maintenance of the lawn and yard and, in some situations, how to handle pest problems.
But you’re a real estate pro, not a pest control expert, how are you supposed to know what to look for?
Pro Tips on Identifying Pest Issues
Thankfully, you don’t have to go to classes or get certified to learn some of the most common ways to detect pest problems and make an educated guess about what might be causing them. Residential pest problems generally fall into five categories: scratching, water damage, excrement, damaged insulation and other types of wood damage.
Once you’ve identified the type of damage you’re dealing with, figuring out what’s behind it and directing your clients to the appropriate pest control professional can be a snap.
5 Details to Help Diagnose a Pest Issue
As you walk through a property, pay close attention to the following five details that can help diagnose the type of pest you’re dealing with in order to determine the best course of action.
Scratching: Almost always an indication of rodents. If you or your clients hear scratching, either in the ceiling, in the walls, under the floors or just about anywhere in the home, there’s a good chance the culprit is mice. If mysterious holes begin appearing in food containers in the kitchen, you can almost guarantee you’ve got a mice infestation on your hands.
Water damage/rotting wood: This one isn’t so much caused by pests, but it creates an environment that attracts them. If you find wet, rotten wood, you might need to turn your attention to a potential infestation by termites or carpenter ants. Termites tend to eat wood from the inside out, so if a piece of wood that should be solid feels hollow, you have a clue. Termites are a major pest problem and could sabotage your sale. Get a pest control professional out to the home immediately.
Droppings/urine: Where there go pests, there go pests. If there are pests shacking up in your clients’ home, chances are they’re ridding themselves of waste in there, too. Depending on where urine and/or feces are found in the house, it could be an indication of mice, rats or squirrels. Cleaning up rodent excrement requires a lot of safety precautions, like rubber gloves, and a strong disinfectant, like bleach.
Soiled/heavily damaged insulation: You’ve got a big problem -- literally. Insulation damage is often caused by larger pests, like raccoons, or a large colony of smaller animals, like bats or squirrels who use the insulation to nest. Depending on the degree of damage, you may need to evict the animals by having a pest control company make what’s called an exclusion, and your clients may need to pay to replace the damaged insulation.
Other types of wood damage: Pinholes, shavings or burrows are an indication of wood-destroying insects such as termites, carpenter and or powder post beetles. Call pest control immediately before the damage can’t be undone.
If you suspect any type of pest issues in the home, it’s important to get a professional’s eyes on the property to provide a thorough inspection. They’ll be able to give you the full scoop as to what pests may be in the home, if they’ve caused damage, and how easy it would be to remove/prevent them.