Nothing turns off prospective homebuyers more than bugs and critters – dead or alive. And when there are visible signs of rodent pellets on the floor, some prospective buyers may even run out of the house screaming. Home sellers need to ensure that bugs and critters don’t turn a potential sale into a lost opportunity, resulting in a costly cleanup.
If every home was sealed air- and water-tight, there wouldn’t be a need to take preventive maintenance steps. Bugs and critters would have no way to enter and search for food or nest. But it is almost impossible to seal up a house and in most cases, it is unhealthy. An airtight house doesn’t have the chance to “breathe” and poor air circulation makes indoor living uncomfortable.
So what necessary steps does a homebuyer need to take before showing the home?
The most obvious is to seal cracks in the foundation, walls, roof, seams between walls and windows/doors, chimneys, holes made by animals such as squirrels and woodpeckers, ripped window/door screens, seams along window air conditioning units, etc. The list goes on and home inspectors can provide more information and where bugs and critters can enter the home.
Preventive maintenance can be relatively inexpensive. For example, during an annual storm door swap out (replacing glass with screen), a visual inspection may reveal some holes or tears in the screen. Most repairs can be done by homeowners with a screen replacement kit or the local hardware can make the fix, one that will fit most household budgets. Cracks in foundations can be sealed with spray foam or easy-to-mix mortar. A critter screen atop a chimney stack is an easy fix, too. Again, the local hardware store would be good source for products and advice.
One thing homeowners miss is the obvious – leaving food around or storing trash in unsealed containers. That is an invitation for bugs and critters to come in for a visit. Besides being a temptation for invasion, the look and smell of old food and garbage are sure-fire ways to turn off prospective buyers.
If homeowners are too late to prevent the invasion of bugs and critters, the next steps are to clean up any visible signs, such as mouse droppings and dead bugs in lamps. And by all means, there should be no visible signs of mouse traps, insect poison, or fly paper. These items are a dead giveaway that the home has a bug or critter problem.
Homeowners should not let a small, sometimes barely visible creature ruin a profitable home sale. A little prevention can go a long way.
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