How to Survive Termite Problems in a Rental Property
I have a very easy and simple solution to dealing with properties that have termites: Don’t buy them. You think I’m kidding but I’m not. I come across far too many (new) investors who wanted their first deal so badly they didn’t’ get an inspection or they were too cheap to actually get a good inspector and instead hired a family friend to do the job. (You get what you pay for.)
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That leads me to one of the most important rules of purchasing a rental property. Always get a home inspection.And always hire a good home inspector. If you don’t know one then go to your local REIA meeting and find out who others use. And when he charges $300 for the inspection don’t balk at the cost. It may very well be the best $300 you ever spent.
For instance, a few years ago I was considering doing a deal on a row house in Baltimore City. I’d already done a deal in the neighborhood and was talking to neighbors to see if anyone else was interested in selling. (By the way, I just gave you a clue of what to do when you buy a place in an area, talk to neighbors and try to buy more.)
One fellow I talked with said he was having financial troubles and needed to sell the house ASAP. I ran the numbers and they were tight, but doable. However, when I saw the inside of the house and had the home inspection I knew there was no way I could make the deal work.
Besides the dozens of repairs needed, the house had over $10,000 worth of termite damage, if not more. The “tubes” from the termites were running all through the wood support beams and the termite dust was all over the basement.
When I told the guy I couldn’t buy the house he looked devastated…
But seemed to know he had a termite problem, but didn’t have the money to take care of it. In fact, just the other day I was again in Baltimore City looking at another property that had termite problems, because as I was inspecting it I could see the termite dust which had fallen all over the washer.
Now of course, there are many remedies to getting rid of termites, but a lot of times they just keep coming back and back. I know one landlord who’s always got a termite inspector coming out to his place because he can’t seem to get rid of them.
So, I’ll go back to my original advice. To avoid the hassles of termites, always get a home inspection and avoid properties with termite damage. (And yes, I realize there will be times when the numbers work on a house and it’s a “home run” deal so it’s worth it, but those are few and far between.)
Photo: Chris Baranski