Desmond Brown

The Termite Surprise

05 March 2020
Desmond Brown

In my 22 years selling real estate, I had never seen anything like this! The termite damage in this Scarborough house was beyond repair. In fact, the damage was so bad that the City of Toronto ordered the home to be demolished.

Here's the background on the situation:

  • The current owner bought the house back in 2017 and paid over asking with a firm unconditional deal. No home inspection.
  • This house backs onto a ravine and the new owner wanted to renovate to build a dream home.
  • When the contractor started to remove the drywall, unprecedented termite damage was found from the basement all the way up to the second floor.
  • The new owner initiated legal action against the previous owners, claiming that they knew about the termite infestation and had covered it up.
  • The listing agent and buyer's agent are being sued as well
  • The home has been demolished and the lot sits empty.
  • Neighbouring homes also have termite damage (the owners invited us in to look at the damage)
  • A huge tree in the ravine adjacent to these properties was also infested with termites and had to be removed

Termites are by no means sweeping across Toronto or the GTA. However there are some pockets and neighbourhoods where they are definitely a problem. As realtors, we have relationships with pest control companies that specialize in termite control. These companies have extensive records on all neighbourhoods across the city and can tell us if they have knowledge of infestations or if homes have been treated.

The best way to avoid a problem like this when buying is to have a home inspection. Reputable home inspectors will know what to look for when it comes to termites. If you're purchasing in a known termite area, get a separate termite inspection by a pest control company. You can also ask if the owner has ever had termites in their home, or an inspection, and if so, if they have a record or certificate of treatments and maintenance. 

With our crazy market in the GTA, don't get caught up in the hype and leave out critical conditions like home inspections in the agreement of purchase and sale. Surprises such as termites and major structural issues can be costly and emotionally draining. And lawsuits can take years to come to a conclusion.