Can I Void A Virginia Real Estate Contract for Termite Problems?

There are a lot of ways to get out a real estate contract, both as a buyer and a seller, but unfortunately, termite damage is not one of them.

Termites are wood destroying insects that damage the house and/or garage of a potential property. For a full list of pests and termites, visit PestNow.

Who should get a termite inspection? Anybody buying a detached/single family property, a townhouse, or a condo unit on the 4th floor or below.

The Sales Contract for Virginia (and the same applies to Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County/PG County Maryland) says that the buyer can either pay for a termite inspection and select their own company, or ask the seller to pay for an inspection and give them the right to choose the company.

Either way, if any visible evidence of active termites and other wood-destroying insects are found, repairs/extermination/treatment will all be made at the Seller’s expense.

That’s it. It does not give you the right to void solely based on the presence of termites. That’s why I recommend doing the termite inspection at the same time, or during the home inspection contingency period. It covers you in case it turns out that the termites have made more of a presence in the house than the current owners. Ick.

5 thoughts on “Can I Void A Virginia Real Estate Contract for Termite Problems?

  1. Good advice to have the termite inspector show up during the home inspection. This $50 inspection will also help address a buyer’s concern and what type of treatment or repair work needs to be done. No termites then one less thing to worry about!

    The only issue may involve the mortgage underwriter. You see, they typically want the “wood destroying pest inspection” to be done within 30 days of settlement… so talk with the inspection company and how they can accommodate.

    Also, VA loans require the Seller pay for the termite inspection.

    • Doug,
      It’s actually not just the bank. The contract says you have to do the termite inspection within 30 days of settlement, regardless of whether it’s a VA, FHA, or Conventional (or cash!) deal. It’s just that we’re more mindful of the days because the banks make such a big deal of getting the report no more than 30 days out.

  2. As a potential seller, I do have some concerns. I will be placing my townhouse on the market and want to competitively price it. One of my concerns is that once the sales contract is signed & price is set, IF the termite inspection results in a large repair bill (not likely in my case, but always a possibility), can I say that there is no longer money in the deal for me, and take the house off the market? If I have that option, I can be aggressive on the price point, otherwise I may be holding out (and charging too much) against a problem that will not arise. I can’t understand why I would be held to the contract if an unexpectedly large expense will may occur.

    • Specifically for a termite issue, you may want to get a WDI Inspection done ahead of time – it’s about $35 depending on the company. Now, the more likely scenario would be a home inspection turning up costly items. IF the buyer asks for a credit or for repairs, you can always say No if you can’t or don’t want to fund those repairs. This gives the buyer the opportunity to walk away at which point you could pull your home off the market if they void the contract. As a seller, you really don’t have an opportunity to cancel the contract.

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