Answers to 2 Commonly Asked Questions About Property Pest Inspections

Building and pest inspections are very important if you're planning to buy or sell a home. They highlight existing and potential damage from pest infestation so that you buy or sell your home at a fair price, knowing everything involved in its repair and maintenance. Unless you're buying a home to be demolished, it is advisable for buyers to order an independent pest inspection. You can then use the findings to decide whether to go ahead with it or negotiate for a lower price if there are defects. This article highlights two common questions buyers and sellers ask about property inspections for pests.

1. How accurate are pest inspection reports?

The accuracy of the inspection report depends on a number of factors, but suffice to say that a report is only as good as its writer. This means that the company hired must be reputable. That said, there are things you can do to improve chances of getting an accurate report from an inspector:

  1. Hire your own – As a buyer, your seller's inspector may not highlight the true picture of the property because they work for the seller's best interest. Similarly, a buyer's inspector may overplay defects to improve the buyer's negotiating position. Therefore, it is common to have two inspections; one for the buyer and the other for the seller

  2. Be present – Being there means walking where the inspector walks and crawling where they crawl. Not only will you see and understand any defects and restoration advice better, but you will also be able to interpret all the findings highlighted in the report. If you can afford just one inspection, you can have the seller choose the inspector and then attend the inspection to ensure they miss nothing, or vice versa.

  3. Ask – The inspector should discuss his/her findings with you at the end of the inspection. At this point, ask all questions about defects, cost of restoration, the extent of damage and any points you're not clear on. The written report may be hard to interpret without specialised knowledge.

2. Who pays for a pest inspection?

The person paying depends on a number of factors: for instance, you may negotiate to go through with a sale provided there is an inspection report, in which case the cost is transferred to the seller. In addition, if the lender (for a mortgage) demands an inspection, the seller may be forced to pay for one, depending on the reasons for the demand.

If law or financiers do not require inspections, the seller may still be in charge of paying for an inspection, depending on the market conditions and the condition of the property. In a hot market (where houses are on demand), you may have to waive inspection or else foot the cost. If it's a buyer's market, sellers often pay for home inspections to make their properties more desirable to buyers. Similarly, a house that's in poor condition may need a seller to pay for an inspection to prove that there aren't pests or dry rot and other defects to strengthen their bargaining position.

If you're unsatisfied with a report provided by the seller, however, you will foot the cost of a second inspection. Considering the dangers of buying uninspected properties, this will be well worth the cost in the longer term.