Warning signs of pest infestations to look out for while house hunting

Warning signs of pest infestations to look out for while house hunting
Pest infestations are a nightmare to deal with (to say the least!) and you most definitely don’t want to encounter them just a few months after you’ve moved into a new home. Insects and other pests can do terrible damage to the structure and different components of a home. It goes without saying that their control and removal is an expense you don’t want or need just after heavily investing in a new property. Infestations can grow quickly from minor to major and it is only by a professional building and pest inspector that you can be 100 per cent assured the home you’re interested in is pest free. But is there a way to foresee the possibility of an infestation when you’re browsing through potential properties? Here are some key signs of pest infestation to watch out for at open homes.

Topics in this article:

  • Live pests
  • Dead critters
  • Empty or partially destroyed nests
  • Leftover pest control devices
  • Bad odours
  • Holes or gnaw marks
  • Greasy tracks & marks
  • Evidence of termite activity
  • Documentation
  • External Checks


Live pests

This is the easiest thing to watch out for as you walk through a home. If you see live pests walking or flying around the interior or exterior of the property, that’s a sign that there is likely a problematic pest issue at hand.

Dead critters

When walking around the home keep an eye out for dead pests that may be in the corners of rooms or near the windows.

If the previous occupants had attempted any control and removal measures it’s quite possible that a few stray bugs from that process or from having completed their life-span will be left behind.

Empty or partially destroyed nests

All pests have a colony or nest, so if a home has an infestation, you will definitely find a nest if you look in the right places. If possible, carefully look through hollow parts of the house, garage or the areas behind any broken walls or under floorboards.

In fact, use a torch to check these spots and if you find an existing nest or the remains of one, that should be a red flag for you. Again, this may not be possible at all home inspections and you should hire a professional to thoroughly check all cavities before signing on the dotted line.

Leftover pest control devices

Survey areas in, under and around the house for traps, possum guards on trees, rat-sack or empty bottles of pest control products. If you spot these it means the previous owners attempted pest removal and there may be a larger issue to deal with lurking beneath the surface.

Bad odours

All insects, possums and rodents leave behind an odour caused by their excrement, urine and remains. If the house has a musty or foul smell, an in-depth assessment by a professional is necessary to determine whether there is an infestation.

Holes or gnaw marks

Look for holes on walls, wooden frames or doors, and bitten-up wiring. Rats and mice, in particular, like to feed on these items.

Poke your head out of the window or look from the balcony to see if there are any of these signs outside. This will also help you determine if pests have made their way inside.

Greasy tracks & marks

Keep an eye out for any grease marks or tracks on the floor and droppings in cupboards. Pests like mice and rats generally tend to leave droppings, as well as marks from their greasy fur and this trail can indicate which parts of the home they have been visiting.

Evidence of termite activity

Termites are the worst kind of pests for any home. They cause structural damage that can weaken and destroy a house in a dangerous way. When going through the house,check for any hollow sounding or sagging wood, doors or windows that stick, the accumulation of fine sawdust, faecal pellets or wings that have been shed.


Ask the agent if any measures had been taken by the previous owners to guard against pests and if they have copies of the most recent building and pest inspection report for you to have a look at.

External checks

Take a stroll through surrounding areas of the house like the sideway and yard to check for any damage and easy access points for pests and their breeding grounds.

Check open spaces for anthills, window frames for wasps nests, trees for termite nests, and sheds and trees for possum nests. Be on the lookout for other evidence that pests are living there such as droppings under trees and the skin being eaten off lemons on fruit trees. Secondly, observe greenery in the area. If there are damaged plants or patches of grass pests may be to blame.

The hassle and expense of a pest infestation is something no new homeowner wants to have to deal with. So, keep your eyes peeled for the above signs of a pest problem to steer clear of a property lemon.

If you have your doubts about the property and want to verify any symptoms or signs you may have seen don’t hesitate to have a pre-purchase building pest inspection done from a reputable service.

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