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Wood Infestation Report

Dear Marie: I'm getting ready to sell my house, and my real estate agent is telling me that I am probably going to have to pay for some termite report. I don't care one way or the other. Why do I have to provide this report?

It's usually the lender, not the real estate agent or even the buyer who will probably require the Wood Infestation Report. It doesn't really matter; someone is going to want to know about the presence or absence of any wood destroying organisms or their damage, so be prepared.

Here's why: In the 70's, the Federal Government required that each state pass its own legislation to help track pesticide use. Most states delegated the responsibility to their Departments of Agriculture. Three states-Indiana, New Mexico and South Carolina-authorized their land grant colleges--Perdue, New Mexico State and Clemson-to regulate pesticide use and to track pests.

Indiana and South Carolina have become leaders in pest control, in part because Perdue and Clemson Universities are linked into education and have close ties with the County Extension Agents who help implement control programs. You can't have control without knowing where the problems are.

Like yourself, most Sellers could care less about the pest issue, since you are leaving the property. But buyers and their lenders definitely need to know in order to be sure that the property is not going to fall apart. The pest control report is a tremendous asset to the consumer, and ultimately to Pest Control.

Over the years, the reports have been broadened to include fungi, moisture conditions and wood destroying beetles, as well as termites. Neil Ogg of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Control Department of Clemson University explains how this evolved:

"Most appraisers don't crawl under the house. No one wants o, and no one does. Our guys-the licensed pest control operators (PCO's) were getting blamed for all sorts of problems by the Buyers and their Lenders. So we made the wood infestation reports comprehensive in that it provides the consumer full disclosure of the presence of apparent absence of these critters and moisture damage."

The issue of many different, confusing kinds of required reports was solved by proving to the VA and FHA that the CL-100 more than meets their requirements. The CL-100 must be used in South Carolina today if any such report is required.

It's important to remember that the CL-100 is just a report about the apparent absence or presence of activity below the main first floor of the structure. The PCO is trained and licensed to find and report activity or damage. He may or may not submit a bid to treat or to stop such activity. Some PCO's are contractors who can make repairs. After disclosure is made, the Buyer, the Seller, and the Lender will have to determine how many repairs will be made and who will pay for them.

Neither the Buyer nor his Lender should expect a "clear" letter. Practically any structure in South Carolina which is older than fifteen years is bound to have some kind of damage-the most the consumer can expect is full disclosure.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting any licensed PCO or the Clemson University Fertilizer and Pesticide Control Department. As a Seller, you can expect to be asked to provide the CL-100. As a Buyer, you should want one, even if you are paying cash.

Marie S. Spodek, DREI, GRI is a highly regarded real estate educator and author. Her seminars have been attended by thousands throughout the U.S.

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