Kathy Henne: Don’t let them bug you

It has been estimated that termites cause $5 billion in property damage every year in this country. That makes them more of a threat to homeowners than flood, wind, or even fire. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) demands a current termite inspection for their loans. If there is evidence of past termite damage, a structural inspection may be required.

Termites thrive in the warmer climates of the South/Southeast and West/Southwest, but states on the East Coast and here in the Midwest have areas of high risk. Outside those regions, still all it takes is the right combination of warmth, food and moisture to invite a termite infestation.

As a home buyer, you would be well advised to determine whether the home you are buying is under a termite protection plan, and to request a termite inspection, even if it is not a requirement of your loan. Older homes in particular may be at risk, but even new homes could be potential targets if the builder did not correctly perform termite pre-treatments during construction.

You probably won’t notice the little buggers until the damage is already done, so be sure to get your home inspected and if needed, get it treated. If you have any questions about inspections, ask your real estate agent for advice.