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Old 11-19-2008, 10:48 AM
Location: New Jersey
822 posts, read 2,141,728 times
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Went with my son to look at an older (1955?) ranch around Phillipsburg, NJ, and there was obvious termite damage in the rear of the house to approximately 20' -30' of the sill plate, rim joist, and about 6-8' in on several floor joists. Didn't notice any activity, but the damage was evident. The front part of the basement was kind of finished, and we didn't bother to lift the ceiling tiles to check out that area.

My concern is there might be termite damage to the wall studs; What's the probability of termite damage in the walls? and how would you be able to accurately tell how much damage there might be to the wall studs?

The realtor who showed us the house, wanted my son to pay $65 for a termite inspection; we told her the damage was so obvious, that a heck of a lot more than $65 is sorely needed to reapair the damage.

Guess this will really cost a bundle to lift the house up to replace the sill plate, rim joist, and floor joists?

Not sure if the owner has to fix, our just reduce the price of the house by the cost of estimated damage? My concern would be that an estimate would be just that, and there could be damage costing above the estimates. In this case, I would think it's best that the owner fix.

What would an FHA or conventional mortgage require in this case to get a mortgage? What guarantee would they seek that the damage is fixed? Would they allow the seller to reduce the cost of the house, and have the buyer fix?

Ah, termite damage!

Thank you for any insight........marc
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:42 AM
Location: Seaford, Delaware
3,407 posts, read 13,326,378 times
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An inspection of the total damage would require opening up walls in the area to look at the studs. It would have to be opened up until the visible damage stopped. That is the only way to get a true estimate of total damage.
Cost of repairs would be fairly accurate that way.
As for FHA, that may or may not be an issue. I think it might be. On conventional mortgage, it depends on the appraisal value and extent of damage. You would need to ask the broker for details. Alot of rules have changed with the housing failure this year.
It could be a negotiation point on the sale price of the house. I would make an offer based on repair cost estimates. Tell the seller you want a complete inspection and repair estimate and go from there.
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Old 11-19-2008, 12:09 PM
Location: Venice Florida
1,381 posts, read 4,354,076 times
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I was looking to purchase a house back in 2003, I noted several termite tubes on the exterior. Found active termites, I also noted little pin holes in the drywall. You can detect the pin holes by shining a bright light along the wall.
I wanted to open the walls to see if the studs had been affected. The seller had no interest in allowing me to determine the extent of the damage, so would not allow me to cut view holes in the wall. I came up with the idea of using a stud finder to check for the existence of studs. There are stud finders that detect density changes. When a stud is eaten it is paper thin a so it won't register on the stud finder. I found several walls where I could not locate a single stud. I didn't buy the house, because the damage appeared to be very extensive.

I've seen houses where the termites had traveled to the roof, they ate the plywood but not the trusses.

Friends of mine in Arkansas bought a house that had settled badly, it cost them less than 8k to jack it up and support it.

The professional termite inspection would carry more weight then your say so to the owner, and give you a better bargaining position. Sometimes the termites come into the house and leave, so past damage does not mean that the house is completely lost.
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:11 AM
Location: New Jersey
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Default Repair estimate is $8K?

One company looked at the damage and gave an estimate of $8K to replace about 70' of sill plate, and add sister joists to about 8-9 joists; they will also need to replace some of the rim joist. $8K seemed a little low to me, considering you need to jack up the house which could cause additional damage, but I'm no expert.

The inspector said there's probably no damage in the walls; he checked the baseboard mouldings, but did not go into the walls. He also indicated that ternites usually go sideways into the joists, etc, VS going up the walls.

If my son were to negotiate the seller taking the $8K off the selling price for the repairs to be made after the sale, what protection would he have should additional damage be found during the repair process? Remember, the $8K is only an estimate. I'm thnking it would be better for the damage to be accomplished prior to the sale, or possibly holding some $$ in escrow until the repairs are totally accomplished?

Appreciate any experienced comments and assistance you can provide.

Thank you,....marc
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Old 11-27-2008, 09:17 AM
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
2,124 posts, read 6,716,216 times
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I would want the repairs to be completed prior to purchasing as well, so that if any additional problems are found, they are fixed under the sellers dime and not your sons. As for guarantee's, I would check with the termite company. Are they the ones doing the repairs? in our state, they do the repairs and treat, and they certify and give the clean letter.

JMHO.... good luck,

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Old 11-27-2008, 11:24 AM
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There are some pretty neat inspection devices that some of the more high tech type guys have. Little video cameras on stiff cables that can be snaked in from cable tv cover plates, "ultrasound" type scanners, various kinds of acoustic probes. Thermal imaging camera can be dialed up to show where the studs/joists are no longer sound...

Bottom line is that anytime there is more than a few feet of damage from insects (or water, or rodents -- often all three go together!) the odds of it turning into a "this is going to cost a lot more than we thought" are VERY VERY high.

Depending on the kind of repairs that are possible you may end up with something that is frankly more cost effective to rebuild. Probably NOT the kind of a situation that you want to get into with a "starter home"...

I am NOT a fan having the seller supervise any of the repairs -- their motivation is NOT to "do it right" it is to get it "good enough and get out". Really better if the new owner has direct contract with the repair company, in the event that down the road they created a new problem/did not adequately effect repairs...

FHA inspection is a special case, and they do (did?) generally have a much more extensive list of sign-offs that are required.

Given that inventory HAS to be out there that is far better than this, or at least a "known" situation, I would recommend taking a pass UNLESS you and your son really understand what you MIGHT be getting into...

While IN THEORY it seems like using escrow as a "ax over their head" to get the repairs done, too many times the sellers just have no cash to PAY for the truly needed repairs - especially when it is a situation where "we opened up the walls and it worse than you could imagine"... I mean that! Heck I can recall a little ranch home that I helped a young couple buy where the seller agreed to tear-off the three layers of roofing and re-roof. Once all the sheathing was exposed it looked like Swiss cheese! What should have cost about $5k ended more than double that. The roofer did not get paid by the seller, there were liens. It was a mess.
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Old 11-29-2008, 10:43 AM
Location: New Jersey
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Default Can you even get a mortgage with termite damage?

I'm wondering if you can you even get a mortgage with the termite damage I've noted?

I wouldn't think that mortgage companies, especially now-a-days, would want to lend $$ when there's termite damage?

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Old 11-29-2008, 03:26 PM
Location: Knoxville
3,716 posts, read 14,910,729 times
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I would look beyond the baseboards. Like FlBob said, a bright light shining against the wall may show up termite holes. I would also get an inspector to look in the attic in the area above all the damage. If there are any signs of mub tubes in the attic, then it is obvious the little buggers have eaten their way up the walls.
Shining the light against the wall can also show odd textures, that when you push on them with your fingers will collapse the little tunnels. You can sometimes trace the tubes all the way up the wall.
Look inside closets and you may see some tubes too.
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:32 PM
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Excellent advice. You can also look for bubbled paint which can be a good clue. Here's a good article that will help you. Termiteswhat to look for | Pest Cemetery
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Old 10-22-2009, 10:13 PM
Location: Columbia, SC
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Have the work done prior to closing. Is your son working with his own buyers agent or with the sellers agent? I'd highly recommend a good buyer agent as you could discuss this matter with them.
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