With the rise in home sales over the summer, we were thinking it’s time to talk about buying and selling homes. Specifically, signs of infestation to look out for when purchasing and how to handle infestations when sellling.
Hopefully, if you are looking to buy a house, you are also going to look at the property before you buy it. Here are a few things to keep an eye – or a nose – out for:
Perhaps among the easiest things to keep at the front of your mind when looking at a property are potential points of entry. Holes are a fairly obvious point of entry, but even small cracks can let pests in. Fully grown adult mice, for example, can squeeze through cracks as small as 5mm.
Once you see a potential point of entry, you should check it for signs of use. Though disgusting and unpleasant, droppings and waste products are a common sign of recent activity. Look around cracks and holes in a property for piles of dust, frass or small pellets. These waste products not only indicate activity, but can also be used to find nests, should you decide to buy the house (or you could tell the sellers in a bid to negotiate price).
Did you know that mice can leave greasy marks along the bottom of a wall or that cockroaches, particularly in large numbers, have an oily, hard-to-ignore odour? These things are not so obvious and may take a more experienced hand to positively identify, but they’re worth keeping in mind when looking around, particularly in a kitchen.
Maybe this is too obvious, but if you see pests, then there is probably an infestation. Pests often prefer to hide in places that are hard for us humans to access, so whether you see just the one or loads, alive or dead, it’s likely there is a pest problem.
Selling a house involves enough work as it is. You really don’t want to make it harder by also dealing with pests. So here are some tips:
Think of it as sealing up the carrot to avoid having to use the stick. All living things are trying to survive, pests are no different. But if you make necessary things like food or water scarce, pests will have to search elsewhere for sustenance. So empty out sources of standing water and food (like pet bowls), cover food, keep living areas tidy and most importantly, clean, clean, clean! An additional bonus: a house that is clean and tidy will surely attract better offers.
Most people know what it sounds like when a mouse is scurrying in the walls or the loft of an old house. But large rodents aren’t the only pests you can hear. According to some experts, if you put your ear up to a wall that you suspect is infested and listen carefully, you can actually hear termites chewing the wood in your house! If you can’t hear them that way, you can use a stethoscope to listen for any activity in the walls (or have some fun at your neighbours’ expense, perhaps).
This can be as simple as filling in cracks with putty, then repainting or re-wallpapering the area. For more tenacious pests, you may need to seal off points of entry with something stronger. Rodents can gnaw through softer materials like wood, so you may need to fill holes and cracks with something stronger, like metal. You may also want to call in a professional to make sure points of entry are securely and safely filled.
Though you might worry about lost viewing times or a lingering smell of chemicals, calling in the professionals can mean less work for you – not to mention these temporary inconveniences are better than a potential buyer seeing a mouse run across the living room. If a smell does persist and viewers are stopping by any minute, try baking a tray of choc-chip cookies. The scent of the cookies baking will probably mask any odours, and if not, you can always charm your visitors with freshly baked cookies!