THEY may only be tiny but termites hold huge power over home contracts with nearly three quarters of Australians saying they would immediately disregard a property if they were found.
A June survey for pest control company Rentokil showed 74 per cent of respondents would definitely cross a home off their list if it had termites and a further 16 per cent would probably do so.
Rentokil national technical manager Simon Lean said he was surprised by the strong reaction.
“It might only be a little nibble here and there, not structurally damaging, but people get very worried about it,” he said.
He was less surprised, however, by the perceived drop in value for termite-affected homes.
Fifty-four per cent of survey respondents believed homes with termites would lose at least 25 per cent of their value.
“Serious problems, where suddenly you’re losing $100,000-plus off the property, that’s where the current owners haven’t had an annual termite inspection,” Mr Lean said.
He said buyers who didn’t have a pre-purchase inspection were making a big mistake.
“You could be buying a hell of a lot of problems that you just wouldn’t be aware of,” he said.
Compass Building and Pest Inspections manager Peter Ranchow said Queensland homebuyers had become increasingly pest-savvy in the past decade.
“There are more properties now being sold with an inspection than 10 years ago,” he said.
“Whether that’s driven by the lending societies or solicitors, it appears 99 out of 100 are getting them done now.”
But he said the vendors, as much as the buyers, should be on top of the issue.
“I suggest the seller gets a pre-sale report, knows the condition of the home, then can market it accordingly,” he said.
“It gives them a chance to address the issues before they put the property to market.”
He said a pest inspection, which costs about $500 combined with a building inspection, might also save them the heartache and lost time of a contract falling through down the track.
Homebuyer Ricky Michaels said he would recommend a pest inspection to everybody after recently pulling out of a contract in Middle Park when termites were found.
“I was going to purchase it and they found it was pretty bad with white ants. They recommended for me not to buy it and after that I just pulled out,” he said.
“When you’re investing in a home, that’s the biggest asset a person has.
“You wouldn’t buy a car that only has two wheels.”
Mr Lean said Queensland was particularly susceptible to termite problems because of its warm climate, high rainfall and the popularity of slab-on-ground housing.
“They can be active in Queensland all year round simply because it never gets that cold,” he said.
Termite damage is not covered by home insurance.