Your guide to VA loan termite inspections
If you’re an eligible veteran or servicemember considering a VA home loan, you may have heard talk of a termite inspection requirement. But why might the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) require a termite inspection and how does the process work? Whether you’re buying or selling a home, here’s what you need to know about termite inspections for VA loans.
What is a VA loan termite inspection?
A VA termite inspection may be required if you’re purchasing a home with a VA loan. In a termite inspection, a qualified professional examines the property for pests and signs of wood damage. This is to ensure the safety and integrity of the property.
Note that termite inspections for VA loans can go by several names. You may also see them referred to as WDO (wood-destroying organism) or WDI (wood-destroying insect) inspections. Fitting, given the military’s affection for acronyms.
Why is a termite inspection necessary?
In addition to being a nuisance, termite damage can be expensive. Minor damage can sometimes be repaired relatively inexpensively, but larger infestations may cost significantly more to treat. Termite infestations also have the potential to affect the value of a property if not addressed.
Is a VA loan termite inspection required in every state?
Since termites are more common in some regions of the U.S. than others, termite inspection requirements tend to vary by state, and sometimes even by county. Moreover, these requirements are subject to change, so it’s generally worth doing your research to find out which requirements apply to VA loans in your area.
Regardless of location, a VA termite inspection is almost always required if evidence of wood-destroying insect damage is noted in the independent appraisal that the VA separately requires.
How does the VA determine which areas require termite inspections?
The VA relies on what’s called a Termite Infestation Probability Map, indicating which regions in the United States are most prone to termites. This map is periodically updated, and inspections are typically required for any areas with a “moderate to heavy” or “very heavy” chance of termite infestation. A full list of states and counties that require termite inspections is available on the VA website.
Further exceptions for VA termite inspections
While many states require termite inspections for VA loans, they aren’t mandatory for all VA loan products. For example, termite inspections typically aren’t required for VA streamline loans, also known as IRRRLs (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans), a loan product that aims to make refinancing faster and more affordable for veterans.
VA termite inspection vs. VA appraisals
VA termite inspections should not be confused with VA appraisals. A VA appraisal, required for every VA loan purchase, is a general evaluation of a home’s value and condition carried out by an independent appraiser approved by the VA.
Who pays for a VA termite inspection?
It used to be that those who purchase a home with a VA loan were typically prohibited from paying for the termite inspection themselves.
However, VA pest inspection requirements were loosened in 2022 to permit all borrowers to pay for inspections. This change was partly due to concerns that requiring sellers to pay for the termite inspection was a potential cause of friction during the purchasing process. The price of inspections generally varies by the size of the home and how extensive the inspection is.
How does a VA termite inspection work?
In a termite inspection for a VA loan, a qualified inspector visits the home and examines its exterior and, accessible areas of the interior, including attics and crawl spaces. The inspector looks for signs of wood-damaging pests like termites and carpenter ants. Signs could include pest sightings, wood damage in or around the property and insect droppings.
A termite inspection for a VA loan will typically look for more than just termites, but not for all pests. The VA pest inspection is generally limited to those pests which cause wood damage, such as termites, powderpost beetles, carpenter bees and carpenter ants. However, if the inspector notices other problems, such as an issue with other insects or with rodents, they may indicate this in the report, along with any features which might make the property vulnerable to infestation.
Termite inspection reports are usually valid for 90 days, allowing the buyer time to complete the closing process. Note that this validity window is for the VA loan process and does not guarantee that pests won’t arrive in the house between the inspection and your move-in date. The specific format of the inspector’s report may vary by state.
What happens if a property fails its VA termite inspection?
If the property you intend to purchase fails its VA termite inspection, the issue will need to be addressed. The inspection report often comes with guidance and recommendations regarding treatment.
As for who assumes the repair cost, this can vary by state. In some states, it may be up to the buyer, whereas other states might require sellers or lenders to contribute up to a certain amount. In any event, the VA encourages the buyer to negotiate with the seller over repair costs.
The aim of VA home loans is to help provide safe and sanitary housing for service members, veterans and eligible survivors. In areas where infestations are common, a VA loan termite inspection is typically required to ensure that the home is free of potentially costly pests. Since requirements may vary by state, it’s worth looking at the VA website or speaking with your real estate agent to determine whether termite inspections are required for VA loans in your area.