Termites and what the VA labels "wood-destroying pests" can be a serious problem for homeowners, buyers and sellers. House hunters often worry about the condition of older homes when it comes to these pests, and in some cases rightfully so.
To the untrained observer, termite infestations are very difficult to spot unless there is obvious damage. Fortunately, VA loan rules are designed to protect the buyer and the property the VA borrower wants to purchase.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, "Termite inspections are required on existing properties if they are located in an area where the probability of termite infestation is ‘very heavy’ or ‘moderate to heavy’ according to the Termite Infestation Probability Map published in the International Residential Code."
Use the Termite Infestation Probability Map or check with a lender or your VA Regional Loan Center to see if a pest inspection is required where you plan to purchase a home.
If a borrower wants to buy a home in a region where termite problems are considered light or where such problems rarely occur, there is no requirement to have a termite inspection performed. Borrowers concerned about the home they want to buy would have to schedule a home inspection, or contact the VA for assistance.
When there is evidence of an actual problem, the VA rules state, "If there is a question about the location of an infestation probability boundary line in relation to the subject property, contact the Construction and Valuation Section at the VA Regional Loan Center of jurisdiction to determine if this requirement is applicable."
As of June 15, 2022, the VA allows homebuyers to cover the cost of a termite inspection when it's required to meet VA minimum property requirements. The cost of a termite inspection can range from $100-$200 and is often a point of negotiation between buyers and sellers prior to closing. VA borrowers can pay this fee on any VA refinance loan type.
VA buyers may also need to cover the cost of any repairs needed to meet minimum property requirements.
VA loan rules for termite inspections are different for condo projects. According to the VA, "A wood destroying insect inspection is required in low-rise and high-rise units only when the fee appraiser observes a potential problem."
There are some situations that allow the termite inspection to be waived in second-story or higher condo units. Before starting your house hunt, speak with your nearest VA Regional Loan Center to learn if your area requires termite inspections.