Most people cower at the thought of living in a house with bed bugs. This raises some major problems and concerns for anyone trying to sell a house with bed bugs. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to sell a house with Bed bugs in the United States. There are, however several legal and procedural issues that you need to implement before closing the deal with the buyer.
As a home owner, you must follow the right procedure and legal guidelines when selling an infested house. Failure to do so may attract additional costs or a failed deal. This post offers expert answers to important questions concerning selling a house with bed bugs.
Table of Contents
Is it legal to sell a house with bed bugs?
Yes, selling a house with bed bugs is legally acceptable in the United States of America. That said, real estate disclosure laws require any seller to inform the buyer of an infestation. It is, however, important to note that such laws vary from one State to another.
Some States allow buyers to forego disclosure statements and instead, pay a fee to the buyer. You might also find some disclosure statements to be too vague that a bed bug infestation is not a specific question. Here is a comprehensive guide on important seller disclosure laws in the United States of America.
Can bed bugs reduce the value of my house?
Bed bug infestations have a major negative impact on the value of your house. While these pesky bugs do not transmit diseases, they diminish the allure and livability of a house. A 2009 New York Times article tells a tale of an infested house sold 50,000 dollars below the asking price. More than a decade later, the situation has likely gotten worse has bed bugs continue to elicit fear in people’s lives
Considering that bed bugs can reduce your house’s value, you need to take some corrective measures before selling it. Here are some recommendations of things you should do avoid a drop in your home’s value;
- Employ the services of a professional bed bug exterminator that can guarantee excellent work
- Give the buyer documentation proofing that you’ve dealt with the problem
- Quote a reasonable price for your house. Overpricing your house will prompt the buyer to raise more questions.
Can I be sued for selling a house with bed bugs?
Yes, you can be sued for selling a house with bed bugs. If the buyer wins such a case, you may have to offer some financial compensation. There is no guarantee, however, that the buyer will win the case because the burden of proof rests on them.
Property localization often plays a role in determining the ease of winning a bed bug case. Cities like Chicago have strict and well defined laws governing issues of bed bugs. In others like Milwaukee, the laws are unclear and it isn’t easy to get sued over issues of bed bugs.
The time at which the buyer raises the issue concerning bed bugs is also important. If the buyer declares the problem long after purchase, the problem might have been caused by him.The best way to avoid a law suit is to follow all guidelines outlined in your State’s Real Estate disclosure laws.
Who usually buys a house with bed bugs ?
Normally, people who buy houses with bed bug infestations do so as an investment. They purchase them, deal with the problem, and sell the houses at a profit. Individuals and entities that you should approach if you intend to sell a bed bug infested house include;
- Real Estate Investors
- Land buyers
- House flippers
- Companies looking to acquire a block of land or a building to rent
Are Bed Bugs a Latent Defect ?
Real Estate laws in the USA define a latent defect as a fault in a property that;
- Cannot be easily discovered via a reasonable inspection of the property
- Can pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the buyer
You are legally required to disclose all latent defects when selling a house. Considering that bed bugs are not easily discoverable and are hazardous, it is safe to say they are latent defects. That said, most State laws and statues do not specifically classify bed bugs as latent defects.
Regardless of what your State laws say, a buyer can argue in court that you caused them harm by not disclosing the truth. This will definitely have some dire consequences for you. It is therefore, advisable to disclose the presence of bed bugs to the buyer.
Do we have to tell buyers that we had bed bugs?
Yes, you have to inform the buyer if the house you intend to sell has bed bugs. Any attempt to hide such a problem can end in a costly law suit. The best thing is to deal with the bed bug problem and disclose that you had a problem but you’ve resolved it. This can certainly help to prevent a drastic drop in the value of your house
When disclosing a bed bug infestation to a buyer, it is best to follow the appropriate disclosure requirements. These requirements tend to vary across different States. Nonetheless, most states have standard forms that help you to disclose all relevant information formally. Here is a guide on seller disclosure requirements in each State.
Should I Get A K9 Bed Bug Inspection Before Selling My Home? (Even if I don’t have a bed bugs problem)
Yes, it is best to get a K9 bed bug inspection unit to check your home before you sell it. Most people do not see the need to spend money on an inspection when they’ve never seen them. Well, bed bugs are excellent at hiding, so you might not have seen them even though they are there. Performing a thorough inspection using K9s (Dogs) helps protect you against a potential lawsuit.
According to a study report, researchers found that bed bug sniffing dogs can be 95% accurate at finding bed bugs. A well-trained dog can identify different stages of a bed bug’s life cycle. Using this detection method guarantees accurate results even if the infestation is still at an early stage.
I’m selling a house but the problem has been solved, should I disclose it?
Yes, it is advisable to disclose bed bug infestations even if you have already dealt with it. You may be tempted to withhold such information out of fear of a decline in your house’s value. While its true that the information may negate the value of your house, failure to disclose may be more costly in the long run.
Providing proof of bed bug treatment can help mitigate the effects of disclosing such information. If you don’t have such proof, it would be best to hire a K9 detection unit to check the house in the presence of the potential. Through negotiation, you can find a way to minimize the cost of the detection service, perhaps, by convincing the buyer to share the cost with you.
The 3 Important steps to sell a house with bed bugs
To reassure buyers and prevent your home from losing value and avoid future problems, here are the 3 steps to follow:
Hire A Professional Pest Management Company:
Hire a professional to fix the bed bugs problem. Hire a professional with a guarantee to provide a new treatment for free if you still have bed bugs after. Ask the professional about the treatment method and why they are adapting it.
Choose the best method to terminate the bed bugs completely from your house. The method will depend on the level of infestation in your house, however, make sure that both treatments can be done with proper care and caution to protect the house from other materialistic damage.
Provide proof that you’ve addressed the problem
Provide proof that you addressed the problem to buyers, including the guarantee. Make sure that all the documents including the certificate from the professional company should be present at the time of sale. You can even ask the professionals to visit the house to make a free inspection with the buyer and reassure them of the safety of the house from bed bugs.
Disclose Your Concerns About The Problem:
Disclose the known presence of bed bugs in the contact as well as what you did to address it. Make a dialogue with your potential buyer, inspect the house with them, show them the places where the infestation was found out earlier, make out a fine difference between the past and present condition of the house.
Protect your new home
Before moving into another place take care to not bring with you the infestation. Most of the time, it is not the owner but the buyer who is responsible for bringing the bed bugs into a new home. If you have faced bed bug infestation in your old home, it might be interesting to invest in a heat box to avoid bringing bedbugs into your new house.
Also, clean and heat your laundry to the maximum temperature to kill the bed bugs hiding anywhere inside. It is recommended to dispose of the old carpets that have been used previously in your house and buy new ones for your new home.
Negotiate to not loose on value
Depending on the cost of the treatment in your area. But instead of accepting a decrease of the price of your house, you can offer a guarantee to hire a professional if a bed bug is detected in the house one year after the sale. Negotiate to incur the financial expenses required to terminate all the bed bugs from your house.
Sellers often do not incur the treatment expenses which eventually results in a deal breaking. And the new owner therefore, has to face a hard time with the hitchhikers and with a heavy pocket cost to kick them out of the house.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I sell a house without fixing the bed bugs problem?
Yes, but you should disclose it and be willing to give up on some value. Seek for legal advice and talk about it with your real estate agent. Fixing the problem before selling is often advised to avoid losing value.
Is the bed bugs problem should be at the charge of the buyers or the seller?
It’s a negotiation. If you don’t fix the problem before selling you might be exposed to a lawsuit. Some buyers can be scared or ask if they want to buy with a major discount.
How much does it cost to treat a house for bed bugs?
The price depends on the size of your home, the infestation level and your living place matter.
Can I detect a bedbug infestation myself?
Yes you can try by yourself. It will not be proof for a court that your house wasn’t infected by bed bugs if you don’t find any. But if you find bed bugs you know you will have to tackle this problem. You might want to read our article How to Check for Bedbugs
Do Bed Bugs Need To Be Left Out Before I Sell The Property?
No. It is not necessary that the bed bugs need to be gone before the house is sold to the potential buyer because legally a seller is required to look for any structural defects in the property. However, buyers can inspect for the pest infestation and negotiate over the additional cost of extermination of bed bugs from the house.
What Will Happen If I don’t disclose that Bed Bugs Were There, However I knew About the Problem?
It is very serious to not disclose the bed bug infestation in your house. If you will not disclose the bed bug problem earlier, you might face the deal breaker thing. Any settlement of the dispute might also cause you to pay for the cost of removal of bed bugs and other damages.
Selling a house with bed bugs is not an easy task for several reasons. One of these reasons is the awkwardness associated with disclosing that bed bugs have been crawling around your home. Nonetheless, proper disclosure is the cornerstone of any successful sale of a house with bed bugs.
It is always important to resist the urge of withholding information when selling a bed bug infested home. The disclosure, no matter how hard it is, will help put your mind at ease. More importantly, following the right procedures when selling an infested house prevents any potential future lawsuits.