If you’re a veteran looking to purchase a home, there are few options more appealing than a Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan. These loans don’t require a down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI), have low interest rates, and reduced closing costs. However, if you’re using a VA loan, there are a few requirements you’ll have to meet before you’re approved, specifically the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). MPRs are a set of criteria designed to ensure that homes funded by VA loans are safe, structurally stable, sound, and sanitary.
Within MPRs, one of the most important criteria is to check if the property is suffering from wood-destroying insects, specifically termites. Termites are some of the most destructive pests out there, causing over $5 billion in damage to over 600,000 homes annually. Because of this, the VA wants to make sure the homes it approves for vets are free of these wood-destroying pests. Thankfully, not all states possess these pests, and the VA uses this termite distribution map to determine whether an inspection is required or discretionary.
If your home is in an area with a moderate to high population of termites, like most states along the Southeastern portion of the U.S., you’ll likely be required to have a termite inspection. For states with low or nonexistent termite populations, an inspection will be discretionary, depending on the findings of your VA appraiser.
States That Require Inspection for a VA Loan
For states where these wood-destroying insects are common, potential homebuyers will be required to have an inspection. While this may feel like an extra hoop to jump through, termite inspections help homebuyers by ensuring that their home is a sound, safe investment. Homes within the following states will require a VA termite inspection:
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- Washington, D.C
If you live in a state where termites are less common, the VA program will not automatically require you to get a termite inspection. These are called discretionary states and only require inspections if a VA appraiser determines it necessary, usually in the face of existing or prior wood-destroying insect damage.
Discretionary states include the following:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Discretionary, County Dependent States
For some states, termites might only be a problem in specific areas while practically nonexistent in others. In these situations, the VA will have county-specific requirements, meaning that you may need a termite inspection by default if you live in certain counties within the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New York
Who Pays for the Inspection?
Termite inspections can cost anywhere from $50 to just under $300, depending on your area, home size, and pest control company. In the past, homebuyers applying for VA loans were not allowed to pay for termite inspections, instead putting the responsibility on either the seller or lender. As a result, some sellers would look unfavorably on VA loans, sometimes passing them up for other deals. To combat this, in June of 2022, the VA updated its rules to allow homebuyers to pay for termite inspections, but only for certain states.
Nine States That Require VA Borrowers Pay for the Inspection
Below is a list of the states where the VA allows loan applicants to pay for termite inspections:
VA loans allow veterans to purchase homes more easily through their low rates, lack of down payment, and not requiring a PMI. At the same time, the VA wants to ensure veterans are moving into homes that are safe, stable, and pest-free. This high standard requires homes to be reviewed by an appraiser and, depending on the state, a termite inspector. We recommend homeowners, regardless of their mortgage option, take advantage of early home and termite inspections. These early pest inspections help protect the homeowner and allow them to detect termite issues before they become a problem, potentially saving them thousands later.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a VA Loan?
VA loans are a mortgage option provided by private lenders and backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government, allowing lenders to offer them with no down payment, low interest rates, limited closing costs, and without requiring private mortgage insurance (PMI). To be eligible for a VA loan, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have served for 90 consecutive days during wartime.
- Have served for 181 days during peacetime.
- Possess six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves, or 90 days, of which 30 must be consecutive, under Title 32 orders
- Be the spouse of an active service member who died while in the line of duty or the result of a service-related injury.
What Is a Termite Inspection?
A termite inspection is when a pest control specialist comes to your home and looks for signs of termite damage. This inspection can take anywhere from one to multiple hours, depending on the size of your home and the areas available to check. During the walk-through, the inspector will check for the following signs of termites:
- Damaged, hollow, or weakened wood
- Mud tubes
- Termite homes in baseboards, walls, and ceilings
- Termite refuse (referred to as frass)
- Discarded wings
- Buckling pain
- Discolored, damaged, or sagging drywall
When looking over your home, an inspector will thoroughly check the following areas:
- Door and window frames
- Crawl space
How Long Is a Termite Inspection Good for a VA Loan?
A termite inspection is valid for 90 days after the inspection date. This time frame gives potential buyers plenty of time to finalize the closing process. Remember that, while valuable, inspections are not a warranty or guarantee that the home is currently free of termites or that an infestation cannot occur later.
How Much Does a Pest Inspection Cost?
Pest inspections can vary in price depending on the pest control company, the size of your home, and the region. For example, homes in the Northwest have, on average, fewer termites, making inspections there faster and cheaper. On the other hand, homes in the Southeastern section of the U.S. face a wider range of wood-destroying insects, fungi, and other problems, requiring more thorough (and more costly) inspections. On the cheaper end, pest inspections typically cost between $70 and $125. But for larger homes or those in pest-prone areas, they can be as high as over $300.
Do New Home Constructions Require an Inspection as Well?
Yes, if you’re in a state that automatically requires a pest inspection, you’ll need one for both new constructions and property purchases.