Realtors: Tips for Keeping Your Properties Pest Free

Realtors: Tips for Keeping Your Properties Pest Free

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If there’s one thing that will keep a property from selling, it’s the obvious infestation of pests. A home with a pest problem won’t pass an inspection, and any sign of bugs will have potential buyers running in the opposite direction. While sometimes this may be out of your control, it doesn’t mean that every time you see an ant or two you’re doomed. If possible, contact the owner and get permission (and possibly a budget!) to try these pest elimination and prevention techniques:

Keep the Home Clean and Dry

Like most living things, rodents and insects are attracted to food and water. For rats, nothing beats a foreclosed home that offers food and shelter without any humans. The Natural Resource Defense Council suggests that you make the property less enticing to pests by:

  • Wiping up spills with soap and water immediately
  • Fixing leaky faucets or appliances to avoid water pooling
  • Ridding rooms of all food and garbage (if the home is empty)
  • Storing fruit in the fridge and food in tightly-sealed containers (if the home is occupied)
  • Sweeping and vacuuming floors regularly

Seal All Entryways

Eliminating the reason pests want to get in is a great start, but why not eliminate their opportunity as well? Silicone caulk— found at any major hardware store for $10 or less—can seal cracks and points of entry in pipes, ducts, baseboards, moldings and electrical outlets. Additionally, use a needle and steel wool to fix holes in heating and cooling vent screens to keep out larger pests like squirrels and mice. And don’t forget to check the exterior of the home for entryways as well. Plus, firewood, vegetation and other debris kept close to the home can be a great place for pests to live in and climb into the home.

Try a DIY Approach

Have you seen the live critters, their damage or their leftovers? According to the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service, Formosan termites infest more than a dozen southern states and cost an estimated $1 billion a year in property damages, repairs and control measures.

If you aren’t sure what creature is causing the damage, can help you identify the pest so that you know how to eliminate them. And with household products and natural remedies, you may be able to find an inexpensive solution on your own. First pick your pest, and then pick your poison:

  • Ants: Ever wonder why one ant today means 10 tomorrow? Ants leave an invisible scented trail as a way to help others find food. Scrub this trail away with vinegar and water, or use coffee grounds, paprika or cayenne pepper to keep ants away in the first place.
  • Fleas: If your client had pets and you suspect fleas roam the property, try sprinkling baking soda and salt in the carpet. Leave the solution overnight, and then vacuum in the morning.
  • Roaches: Mix a 3-to-1 ratio of borax with sugar and sprinkle the mixture in areas of high traffic. The sugar will attract the roaches and the borax with attack. Plus, this should also eliminate any pesky silverfish pests.
  • Fruit flies: Try filling a Mason jar with a few inches of apple cider vinegar. Cover the bottleneck with plastic wrap and poke a few holes. The flies won’t be able to stop themselves from drinking and drowning in the sweet-smelling mix.
  • Bed bugs: A realtor’s nightmare. Dealing with bed bugs is a complex challenge, but it’s not impossible. Check the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for step-by-step instructions. Some home remedies include placing infested items in a clothes dryer on high heat or hot car or placing items in the freezer for four days.
  • Online help

Call an Exterminator

If you still have a problem (or don’t have the time to deal with it yourself) call someone who does. The U.S. is swarming with pest control companies—approximately 20,000 currently in business, according to With a little information, the site can help you find a local exterminator who can address your pest problem. With proof of repair and professional care, pest damage generally won’t affect the property value, so you and your client can rest assured.