The USDA provides 100% funding to low and middle-income borrowers. This program has flexible guidelines and can help you become a homeowner when no other program allows it. Despite the USDA’s reputation for strict property requirements, a termite inspection is not something they require.
The exception to this rules if the lender requires it as they can make up their own overlays. If they want to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that there isn’t termite damage, they may require it. The only other time it may be required is if the lender or any other party involved in the transaction suspect such damage.
What Does a Termite Inspection Look For?
Unfortunately, termites are virtually invisible. Unless you have a licensed individual looking through the home in the right places, you could completely miss the damage these critters can cause. The professional inspectors will look for:
- Signs of damage that you might miss – Termites work slow and start from the inside, working their way out. Inspectors can look for the little signs of evidence that something bigger is going on, alerting to you potential termite damage.
- Structural damage – It may sound scary to have structural damage and most consider it a deal breaker, but it doesn’t have to be. Professionals can look and tell you the extent of the damage and how it affects the home’s soundness. Of course, if it’s bad, you probably don’t want to take a chance.
- Signs of other insect damage – Termites aren’t the only pest that can cause damage to a home. The right inspector can look for any and all pest damage to determine what you may have to deal with if you purchase the home.
Should You Get a Termite Inspection?
Assuming your lender doesn’t require you to get a termite inspection, should you get one anyways? It’s obviously a personal decision, as you’ll have to fork over the cost of it. However, it may well be worth it. It depends on how much your peace of mind is worth.
If you notice any ‘welcome signs’ for termites such as is noted below, it’s best to pay for the inspection. It may cost a few hundred dollars, but you’ll know you are buying a good investment after it’s said and done.
- Excessive areas of water anywhere near the home’s foundation
- Leaking pipes
- Wood chips up against the home’s foundation
- Dirt-filled areas
- Crawl spaces
What About Other Inspections?
The USDA is very generic in what they require you to have as far as inspections. They do have minimum property requirements, but they allow approved appraisers to make sure the home meets those requirements. In other words, you don’t need to pay for an inspection for a USDA loan.
But, if the appraiser notices something that he thinks should be evaluated further, the USDA will require the inspection. Again, this is that grey area where you have to decide what risks you want to take. The home inspection is different from the termite inspection. The pest inspection specifically looks for termite or other pest damage.
It’s usually in your best interest to pay for the inspections, including the pest inspection. This way you know you are sinking your money into a good investment rather than one that will be a money pit. If there is damage, the inspector can help you assess the damages and estimate what it will cost to fix it. Then you can decide what you should do, but it’s usually best to err on the side of caution.