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Buyer beware: Signs of pest issues to know when buying a new home

Buying a new home can be exciting and at times stressful. When looking at homes, many home buyers may notice it needs new windows or an updated kitchen and bathroom. While these issues are easy to spot, pest problems can be hidden, lurking in walls, attics, or under the floorboards.

With a competitive housing market forcing many new homeowners to forgo traditional home inspections or lose their dream home, it isn’t a bad idea to arm yourself with a little pest knowledge. At the very least, you can inspect for pest activity–past or present which could save you thousands. 

Before you go look at homes, download our PEST INSPECTION CHECKLIST and take it with you.


Should I get a pest inspection?

Termitesrodents, and wildlife can cause extensive and costly damage to homes. While others, such as cockroachesmiceratsstinging pests, and fire ants, may pose serious health risks. 

According to the National Pest Management Association, at any given time, approximately 29% of American homes are experiencing a pest infestation. 

When looking at homes, we recommend bringing along a qualified home inspector. Or, ask your realtor if having a pest inspection done prior to purchasing a home is an option.

How to spot signs of potential pest issues:

If you notice any of these signs, it may indicate a home has had past pest problems or is currently experiencing them.


Damage caused by termites can cost thousands of dollars and is typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance.

  • Mud tubes on the exterior foundation, along basement walls, or in crawl spaces – they are easy to spot with the naked eye

  • Hollow-sounding wood could indicate termites. Termites typically feed on the wood beneath the surface making the structure sound hollow when you tap on it.

  • Visual damage on wooden decks, fence posts, and exterior decorative elements are at a higher risk for termite infestations

  • Shed wings and termite droppings, which can look like piles of sawdust

Rodents and wildlife

Mice and rats are especially destructive due to their ability to gnaw through drywall, insulation, wiring, wood, stucco, PVC piping, and more.

  • Droppings – mice and rats are big offenders

  • Scratching noises coming from the ceiling or walls

  • Nesting materials in cabinets, pantries, closets, or behind appliances

  • Chewed or gnawed wiring, woodwork, PVC piping, vent covers

  • Greasy, rub marks along walls

Other common pests

Any of these signs found on the exterior of the home may require pest control.

  • Live or dead insects (interior too)

  • Fire ant mounds in yard

  • Stinging insect nests attached to the home or in the yard. The nest may be active or abandoned, depending on the time of year.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants are different from other ants in their ability to hollow out wood. Similar to termites, they can also cause extensive damage to your home, which is costly to repair.

  • Since carpenter ants infest moisture-damaged wood, it may be a good idea to have a pest inspection done before buying if you notice any damp wood 

  • Larger than most ants – about ¼-inch to ½-inch in size – and black in color

  • Shed wings or sawdust-like mounds on the floor or ground

Bed bugs 

If a home is vacant, most likely, bed bugs will not be present. However, if you’re purchasing an apartment, townhouse, or condominium that shares walls with other units, you may want to inquire about any previous bed bug problems.

  • Shed skins

  • Live bed bugs

Colleague and customer with family in the kitchen

Ehrlich’s healthy home inspection

Purchasing a home should be a good financial investment and one that doesn’t come with its own set of pest problems. Relax pest-free with our guaranteed pest control solutions. Schedule a healthy home inspection and see what we can do for you. Contact Ehrlich today!

Get a free quote for your home

Our new pricing tool can help you get a better estimated cost using a few factors like:

  • Location
  • Property size
  • Pest type
Get your quote

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