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Property Management: How Pest Problems can affect your Property Value

By Mike Wheatley | September 11, 2015

Pest problems can be one of the most frustrating and hopeless issues homeowners face. Not because it truly is, but spotting a mouse sprinting across your kitchen or finding sawdust around exposed wood frames does leave a momentary sense of losing control of your home to the invaders.


Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

Beyond the psychological impact, the presence of squirrels and other pests can have a very real effect on the value of your property. From the cost of squirrel removal services to the expense of repairs if the damage is severe, pests are a serious issue not always fixed by bug spray and a few traps.

Foundation Damages

Some pests are merely annoying, but those that feed on or make their home in wood pose a threat to your home's structural integrity. Most common in the south and west -- though the threat exists across the United States -- termites cause more than $1 billion in damage to wood structures annually. Some signs of a termite issue in your home include small mud tunnels along foundation walls or joists, winged ants or even just wings where ever there is wood. Because wood is their source of nutrition, if you have a tree or store firewood near your home, there's a greater risk of a termite infestation.

Carpenter ants are another nuisance that causes wood damage. Though they don't feed on it, the ants burrow into the wood, compromising its strength just the same. Imagine drilling large holes throughout the length of your home's main support beam. Over time, the damage caused by ants or termites would be equivalent, and eventually the beams or joists would need to be replaced at a cost ranging from several thousand dollars to well over $5,000. If you're selling the home, buyers will request the estimated cost of treatment and repairs be factored into the selling price, thus lowering the value of your home by as much as 9 percent.

Insulation and Wiring

Another effect on the value of a property is the damage done to insulation and wiring by mice, the latter of which can lead to a house fire. There's nothing a mouse won't chew through, including concrete, drywall and carpeting, so a serious infestation can destroy your home's insulation, which also carries the consequence of higher energy bills.

However, the more serious threat is the wiring. When a mouse chews through the plastic insulation, the hot wires are left exposed, which can short at any time and potentially ignite the surrounding insulation, drywall or wood beams if the circuit breaker does not trip. An estimated 25 percent of unexplained house fires are attributed to pest damage.

Exterior Damage

A large part of a property's value is tied into the appearance, which includes landscaping. Voles, also known as meadow mice, make their homes in your lawn, burrowing into the ground and destroying well-manicured lawns and gardens. In Boise, Idaho, these rodents have been a serious issue this summer, with Barrier Pest Control, Boise ID noting a sharp increase in homeowner complaints.

According to the pest control company, maintaining low-trimmed grass will eliminate hiding spots while baiting and trapping is the best method to treat the infestation.

Insurance Implications

Even if a pest problem causes thousands of dollars in damage to your home, insurance companies won't cover the cost. Pests, whether ants, mice, termites or beetles, are a problem across the United States. They're as common as dry grass at the height of summer or potholes in the winter and thus do not fall under the "unexpected and sudden" criteria for damages covered by insurance. In fact, a quick glance at a policy will show that pest problems fall within the exclusions.

This means if there is a problem, the ensuing expenses are the responsibility of homeowners.

The direct impact on the value of your property because of a pest problem is the cost of treatment and repairs. The latter can be as simple as closing access points around the exterior or as severe as replacing beams in your home's foundation, all of which are out-of-pocket expenses. Thus, the best method of action is prevention. If you suspect an infestation, contact a pest control company right away for an inspection and treatment.

About the Author: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball. The information in this article is credited to Barrier Pest Control in Boise, ID.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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