Because of this high cost, many chose to try to get rid of them by doing it themselves. After repeated attempts and complete failure, the bed bugs can spread throughout and professional services for elimination now triple.
It is then that some make the decision to sell to get out from under the problem, which can cause problems: #1 people do not realize that you cannot run from the problem. Bed bugs will move right along with them to their new location in their furniture and belongings. #2 unless they remedy the situation, or fully disclose the problem, the new owners can sue for not disclosing the problem.
Disclosing Any Hidden Defects
Years ago, it was common to hide problems from potential buyers, who then discovered these problems after moving into the house. In order to protect buyers, the law changed to require full disclosure of any known defects and problems that would not be obvious before the final purchase. Because of the bed bugs innate ability to hide, they are not so obvious. Each state has its own disclosure requirements and federal law requires some disclosures but to date they do not include bed bugs (yet-but they will).
A recent caller revealed that within 4 days of moving into their new home, hundreds of bed bugs had bitten him and his wife. They discovered bed bugs crawling out of the baseboards, window ledges and were everywhere! When they were hanging a picture, they noticed small bumps on the wall and when looked at closer revealed hundreds of bed bugs that had been “painted over”.
With a sigh, he asked if we could provide a reliable bed bug company to help him with his new problem. It was obvious by the amount of bed bugs found that this particular infestation had been there for many months, if not years and of course never disclosed during the signing of escrow papers.
After a moment of silence, he responded, “I bought the house as is!” What he had been thinking (as many do) is that if you purchase a property “as is”, that you are stuck with whatever is “as is”.
He could not be more wrong!
Buying a piece of real estate property “as is” means that the price is not negotiable and even those marketing “as is” still have to obey disclosure laws. Anything that could affect the property’s value or deem it uninhabitable needs disclosure.
Unfortunately, people put “Band-Aids” on things in order to avoid disclosing certain problems (that if were fixed properly would cost them much more), in hopes of no one finding them. Water and mold damage often sprayed with bleach and then “painted” over is one often seen by inspectors. Broken air-conditioners, leaky roofs, structural damage and termite damage are some other problems included in reports.
An experienced real estate inspector can find many problems but with bed bugs being so good at hiding; and if they are not specifically looking for them, can go unnoticed and undocumented and can seriously affect value and deem a building uninhabitable.
No one would purchase a visible cockroach or rat infested property any more than they would termites, which are a mandatory prerequisite on inspection forms in most states, and mortgage bankers will not fund these properties until the problems are properly resolved.
Sniffing Out a Real Estate Disclosure Problem
Because bed bugs are not a “required by law” disclosure at this time, smart buyers can call for a scent inspection before closing escrow to make sure they are not purchasing a property with recent previous or active bed bug infestation problem.
Even the sharpest trained professional eye can miss a bed bug problem hidden within electrical outlets, between floorboards, behind baseboards, under carpet tacks, between paneling and other areas that are not visual to the human eye. It is for this reason specialized dogs are trained. Their acute sense of smell can detect eggs, nymphs and adult bed bugs.
Mass Bed Bug Busters has bed bug detection and education programs that help buyers, realtors, inspectors and mortgage companies address possible issues of bed bugs before it falls into a negligent disclosure situation and possible lawsuit.
by Denise Donovan Founder/IBBRA