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Do You Always Need A Termite Inspection Before You Buy A New Home?

Buying a home is always stressful and expensive, no matter how well the process goes--so it can be tempting to try to skip as many steps as possible to make the experience easier on yourself. While this is an understandable desire, there's one step that nobody purchasing property in Australia should be tempted to leave out: a full, thorough termite inspection.

Why is a termite inspection so important?

Termites are a huge problem in Australia, with some sources suggesting that every Australian home has a minimum 1 in 10 risk of a termite infestation--with that figure rising to 65% in high-risk areas such as Queensland. There's an old saying that goes: "There are only two kinds of houses in Australia--the ones that have termites and the ones that are going to get them."

They can be hugely destructive, so it's vital to be fully informed before you buy. The sooner you catch a problem, the easier it is to deal with; clearing a home of termites costs most people something in the region of $2000-$5000, but if left unchecked the bill can mount to $10,000+.

How can a hopeful buyer arrange a pest inspection?

You can arrange inspections independently, but most people ask their mortgage broker to do it for them. Many brokers will have companies they've worked with before, which will help you get a good deal on price. Make sure you're using an inspector who is a part of the Australian Pest Control Association or a similar major accrediting body.

What happens if that inspection actually finds pests?

If termites are found in the home you'd like to buy, you've got three options.

  1. Don't buy the property at all. In many cases, this will be the right choice: pass over it in favour of somewhere without such issues.

  2. Ask the sellers to deal with the pest problem as a condition of the sale, and negotiate with them on the property's price. If you've fallen in love with the place, this can be a good way of spreading the cost of having the problem dealt with. Seek professional advice before taking this route, though--a mortgage broker will be able to help you figure out how to handle it.

  3. Buy the property anyway and have the pests dealt with yourself. Catching a problem early is a huge boon regardless, and it'll be much easier to eliminate the pests while the building is empty than after you've moved in all your possessions.

Whichever you choose, you'll be far better off for having armed yourself with all the facts necessary to make an informed decision.