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From the second you spot the first cockroach scurrying across your kitchen floor, uncover bed bug tracks, or find signs of termites (like wood dust where you have not been sanding wood), infestations can be a nightmare. The cost to treat an infestation is high, and you may need to rebuild depending on the amount of damage caused by the type of pest infesting your home.
What is an infested house?
By definition, an infested home has bugs, rodents, or other unwanted pests and organisms that the homeowner cannot remove without the help of a professional (and costly) pest or mold abatement company. But infestations aren’t limited to those pests that creep and slither; many types of fungi commonly known as mold also cause hazardous infestations. The most common and toxic molds are Aspergillus (allergenic, found on foods and air conditioning systems), Cladosporium (found on toilets and fiberglass air ducts), and Stachybotrys (also known as black mold and found on wood, ceiling titles, cardboard and other organic materials).
Although the homeowner can treat most infestations, some may require multiple visits from an exterminator. You may also be required to evacuate your house for anywhere from a few hours to several days, which adds stress and expense to the treatment.
Your home is no longer considered infested once the organisms are fully eradicated from the home. But that doesn’t mean the problems go away.
What causes house infestations
A common misconception is that dirty and unkempt houses cause home infestations. Infestations can start from something as simple as an overnight guest who picked up a pest while their suitcase was on a plane or a train. You could even end up with the first intruder by setting a purse or backpack down under a table when you’re eating at a restaurant or in a movie theatre.
To have an infestation, houses do not have to be dirty, unkept, or rundown. The infestation happens because the organism found a source of food or found a way to reproduce without being discovered.
Signs that a house has an infestation
There are numerous ways to tell if you have an infestation. Dead bugs in cabinets, corners, baseboards and trails of fecal matter are definite warning signs. If you smell anything unusual, such as the pungent odor associated with termites, closely inspect the area.
Some pests build nests that may be hard to detect at first glance. Keep a lookout for nests on shreds of materials like paper, random pieces of twine or other similar items.
One the most obvious signs of an infestation are gnaw marks, random holes in wood or walls, and damage in unusual places. These are signs of a critter eating away at the structure of the home and can be incredibly costly to remove and repair.
If you hear something like a gnawing or foot-pattering sound, you should be worried – the infestation is still present.
One often-overlooked sign of an infestation are predators like ladybugs. These colorful and typically adored bugs aren’t harmful to a home, but they do eat insects like aphids and mites – one ladybug can eat up to 5,000 mites in a lifetime. If you spot ladybugs in your home, especially when it isn’t colder outside, an infestation may be hidden somewhere in your home.
If you suspect that the house has an infestation, and you didn’t see or notice any of the signs above, you can try typing the address into websites that track infestations—like on one of the many dedicated to bed bugs. Make sure to check the dates of the posts because the complaint or report may be old, and the property may have been treated. You can also search the yard or garden for holes and patches of land that are empty or dead.
My house is filled with bugs! What now?
There’s a fine line on knowing when to call it quits and just sell a termite infested or damaged property. Consider the time you’ll be displaced, the damage caused by the infestation, and if it can be treated or not. Following are some examples of when you should hold onto your home or simply sell it, beginning with an infestation of one of the most devastating critters – termites.
If an army of termites causes structural damage, you may need to replace your home’s frame or foundation. The cost of buying a new home or moving may be cheaper in this scenario. If it is bad enough, you will potentially need to take out a loan or second mortgage to rebuild or rehab your home. If this is not financially possible for you, a better option may be to sell to a real estate investor or wholesaler.
If the infestation can be treated, and the damage to the physical structure isn’t going to compromise your safety, you may want to keep your home.
In a mold-damaged home, entire sections of rooms such as a wall or the framework may need to be replaced. But keep in mind, while the damage is repaired and the mold is being removed, you may have to stay in a hotel, and your insurance may not cover the associated costs.
In some cases, your homeowners’ insurance payments may increase depending on the health hazards it could have created. If you cannot afford a hotel during the remodel, or have trouble borrowing the additional money to cover the cost of rehabbing your home, selling may be the optimal answer.
Bed bug infestations can also be as devastating as termites, but not because of structural damage. In most cases, if not all, professionals can completely eradicate bed bugs. But treatment is expensive—especially heat treatments, which bring a room’s temperature up to 115 °F to kill all bed bugs. These heat treatments also cause some damage to window weather stripping, appliances, and other items treated with rubber or glue. Because many infestations take multiple treatments to fix, some psychologists are now specializing in therapy for people living through infestations.
Questions and answers about selling houses with infestations
Depending on the type of infestation, you’ll have questions about the value of your infested home, and whether to sell or not. Here are some FAQs by type of infestation.
- Bed Bugs
- Rats and Mice
How to sell a house with an infestation fast
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle and cost of ridding your home of an infestation, plenty of willing buyers are available. But why would someone knowingly buy a property with an infestation?
First it is important to know who buys houses with infestations.
Your typical homebuyer is not going to be interested because they would be inheriting your headache. Rather, real estate investors and wholesalers – those who have a database of investors that look for these type of problem properties in your market – would be prime buyers. Once the buyers consider the cost of infestation removal, and what they can get after rebuilding the home, they will make you an offer and typically close quickly.
Now that you know who buys houses with infestations, here’s some ideas how to find them if you decide to sell your home:
- Search Google for real estate investors in your city or “companies that buy infested houses”
- Call a Realtor® who has relationships with investors
- Post an ad saying your house is for sale on community boards and real estate forums
- Contact Express Homebuyers. Even if we’re not buying in your area, we can put you in touch with some of our partners.
If you’re tired of battling a home infestation and are looking to sell fast, call us now for a free consultation. We’ll make you a free offer so you can move on with your life and leave the infestation behind you once and for all.