Getting your house ready to sell might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a few cost effective enhancements you can improve your home’s curb appeal and its potential value while delivering a powerful pest control punch.
Pest related issues are often symptoms of a home maintenance issue. While this may not always be the case, the presence of pests will always register as a negative in the minds of those considering your home for purchase.
But you’re in luck, invest a weekend stepping through our easy do it yourself pest control tips and your home will attract buyers while repelling pests.
see our infographic at the bottom of this article
We all know this one, improving your home’s curb appeal is essential to increasing the overall value of your property. However, a bit of smart landscaping can do a lot more than make your house and yard attractive to prospective buyers. It can also help repel unwanted pests.
A well-maintained lawn, new flowers, and some fresh mulch will work wonders for your property’s exterior. Choose the right modifications and you’ll also have a natural barrier that repels pests all around your home. Let’s get started.
Maintain Your Lawn
Keeping your lawn in proper order is an easy way to enhance your home’s curb appeal. Overgrown grass, a cluttered yard, or untrimmed bushes not only looks bad, it attracts pests.
- Mow the lawn. Tall, uncut grass is a great hiding place for several pests such as grasshoppers, crickets, mice, squirrels, rats, and snakes. Mowing your lawn on a regular basis keeps it looking sharp while eliminating a common refuge for many unwanted pests.
- Clean up the yard. Give your yard a makeover by cleaning out debris, compost heaps, and other garbage. Not only does this make your yard look messy, it also provides shelter for pests. For example, debris contributing to standing water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Prune vegetation near the house. It’s common for pests to use the vegetation touching or overhanging your home to gain access. Prevent ants, cockroaches, and even mice and raccoons from accessing the house or attic by keeping the surrounding vegetation pruned back at least two feet.
- Eliminate moles in the yard. Mole or gopher tunnels can mark up a lawn, set mole traps or spikes or use natural repellents to eliminate these pests and keep your lawn looking good.
Pest Repelling Plants and Flowers
This is one of my favorite tips. Not only is planting flowers an inexpensive way to improve your home’s curb appeal, selecting the right varieties can also create a full time pest repelling barrier.
- Marigolds – Known to repel whiteflies, round worms, aphids, and mosquitoes. These beautiful flowers thrive in the sun and also help ward off snakes. Mexican marigolds are known to repel rabbits.
- Lavender – Popular for its pleasant smell and relaxing properties, lavender is also a natural fly, moth, and mosquito repellent.
- Lemongrass – Ideal for sunny areas, lemongrass contains Citronella oil, which repels bugs and snakes with its strong, citrus-like smell.
- Petunias – Widely enjoyed as decorative flowers because of their beauty, they are also bug repelling plants that keep aphids, beetles, and squash bugs away.
- Chrysanthemums – These visually stunning flowers not only make your yard and garden look amazing, they also repel ticks, mosquitoes, silverfish, roaches, and beetles. Chrysanthemums contain Pyrethrins, organic compounds used in the production of many commercial insect repellents.
- Dahlias – Many landscapers use dahlias in gardens and yards because of the flowers’ beauty. However, dahlias also help repel roundworms from your garden.
- Garlic – Garlic, onions, scallions, leeks, and chives are all alliums, growing tall with lovely flowers and helping protect other vegetables and plants in the yard against worms, slugs, flies, and spiders. Some alliums can be dangerous for dogs and cats, so be wary of you own a pet.
Cost Effective Exterior Home Improvements
Selecting the right exterior improvements will increase your home’s appeal while blocking indoor access to a variety of pests.
Note, depending upon your aptitude with ladders and hammers, you may want to consider hiring a handy man for a couple of these items.
- Fix and cover cracks or holes. Homes tend to settle over time, so houses more than a couple years old may have minor cracks in its foundation and walls. These elements alone may put off some potential buyers but they also allow access to pests. Sealing them off and adding a fresh coat of paint can improve the exterior appearance of your home and stop pests from sneaking in.
- Clean the attic. Attics are popular hideouts for several types of destructive pests like squirrels, raccoons, birds, and mice. Cleaning the attic, securing entry points, and adding fresh insulation will keep pests at bay while presenting your home as a well maintained retreat to potential buyers.
- Fix and clean the roof. Check and repair damage to your eaves, replace any missing or damaged roof tiles, and clean your gutters. This will freshen up the look of the home while securing common entry points for pests. Removing bird nests from eaves or overhanging trees can reduce noise and unsightly messes.
- Clean and secure crawl spaces. Snakes, moles, and rats in a home’s crawl space are common and puts them a step closer to your family. Find and secure their entry points to ensure they are unable to enter your home.
Clean and Declutter
Now that you’ve caught a potential buyer’s eye with your home’s stunning exterior, it’s time to get the inside in top shape.
You can make your home appear more inviting by taking a few easy steps to clean and declutter, and done right, it’ll contribute to your pest repelling objectives.
Clean Up Your Living Spaces
Maintaining good cleaning habits does more than improve the house’s appearance. It deters pests from entering the living space.
- Clean Routines. Stay on top of your regular cleaning routines to present your home in its best form. Layer in some easy modifications and repel pests at the same time. For example, mix up a simple peppermint oil spray solution and use it liberally around baseboards to repel common house spiders while leaving a refreshing scent.
- Food Storage. Store food items in airtight containers and sealed packages to manage down the potential for ants in the house.
- Store and organize items neatly. Declutter and organize your storage areas. Aside from making these areas appear more spacious you’ll discover or deter any pest hiding spots.
Out of the Ordinary Cleaning Tips
Not all cleaning efforts are as routine as those listed above. Here are a few items not likely on your weekly list but worth your attention as you prepare your home for sale.
- Eliminate visible nests. Take inventory of any wasp nests, bird nests, or chipmunk burrows you may find around your lawn, attic, or garage and follow the proper steps to remove them. Odds are these unwelcome guests are causing you trouble today or they will soon. Most assuredly they’ll raise questions in the minds of your prospective buyers.
- Clean pipes and drains. It’s important for the house to look and feel fresh, airy, and well looked-after. Cleaning the pipes and drains will ensure that your home has a pleasant smell while also eliminating drain gnats or flies. Use a bio drain cleaner to dissolve any debris that might attract these nasty pests.
Create a Comfortable Outdoor Space
If curb appeal speaks to your home’s appearance from the street and often includes the front yard, then your home’s outdoor space is often the backyard. It’s the outdoor oasis that the home offers – a garden, deck, or even a pool. It’s a part of your home and it’s certainly a part of the purchase that buyers will not overlook.
Your home’s outdoor space can offer a relaxing care-free environment or it can be a wild kingdom of bugs and bees and nests and ants. Is your outdoor space turnkey or is it rife with projects?
With a little invested effort, your home’s outdoor space can become a valued selling feature.
- Maintain the lawn. Don’t be the one that maintains the front yard and ignores the back. It looks lazy and it invites pests. Pests thrive in tall grass. Keep the lawn in shape to deter pests.
- Avoid standing water. Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes, attracts insects and rodents, which can attract snakes.
- Use natural pest repellents. Plant flowers that naturally repel pests to assist in establishing a full time pest repelling barrier. (see curb appeal section for a list of options)
- Create a landscaping barrier. A landscaping barrier makes it more difficult for pests to access your home or deck and it’s as simple as inserting space between you plantings and your home.
- Add Products. There are several popular and easy to deploy products that provide effective pest repelling options. Decorative scarecrows and bird spikes are effective bird repellents. Squirrel baffles safeguard feeders. Mosquito traps can keep a yard bite-free and nothing beats a Flowtron bug zapper for pest repelling themed entertainment.
- Deter strays. Stray dogs or cats are a frequent nuisance. Use natural repellents, ultrasonic repellers, motion activated sprinklers, or fencing to keep stray cats and barking dogs away from your property.
Pest Control is a year round enterprise with each season reflecting its own set of pest related issues. Some pests are active in the summer but hibernate during winter months, while others seek to move indoors, requiring homeowners to step up their game.
Adjust your approach according to when your home hits the market to ensure a pest free oasis to your prospective buyers.
- Spring. Many pests come out of hibernation once spring begins. Flies, ants, ticks, and beetles become active around this time and can prove troublesome for homeowners. It’s important to keep an eye out for these pesky insects and to take the necessary measures to deter them from invading your home.
- Summer. Most insects thrive during the summer, so it’s not surprising that homeowners are often forced to deal with wasps, carpenter ants, earwigs, spiders, and mosquitoes. Prolonged periods of drought and hot weather can drive some pests indoors, but most of your repelling activities are focused outdoors.
- Fall. As the temperatures drop, many pests start looking for food indoors. Rodents, spiders, and beetles may become more common nuisances as it gets colder. Flies and box elder bugs also seek shelter and food indoors around this time as well.
- Winter. Although some pests are inactive during the winter months, many move their activities inside. Rodents, silverfish, and cockroaches start searching for food and water indoors. Mice are especially active this time of year gathering food and expanding their numbers.
Routine Home Inspection
The typical home inspection is focused on the overall condition of the property. While it’s not focused on pest control it can point out pest related issues or impacts.
- Entrance Points. Foundation cracks or holes in the attic eaves are good examples of issues that may be identified during a routine structural inspection.
- Evidence of habitation. Chewed wiring, tunneled/disrupted insulation or even animal poop are evidence of pests and are subject to being reported.
- Obvious Infestation. Any infestation identified during an inspection is certainly reported.
Home inspections are routine in the selling process and their findings can play a role in the negotiation process. If you are concerned over what a home inspection may uncover, consider investing in your own inspection prior to placing your home on the market.
Termite and Wood Eating Pest Inspection
Most mortgage lenders require a home to pass a certified termite inspection prior to finalizing the loan. And with good reason. Termites are active in 49 of the 50 states and the damage they render is more than the combined total of the damage resulting from tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Further, termite damage is rarely covered by insurance.
Termite damage itself can be difficult to identify in the early stages of an infestation because the affected wood is being consumed from the inside out. For this reason, a licensed termite inspection is required. Such a professional can report over existing infestations – termites or other wood destroying pests such as carpenter ants – and assist with identifying areas most prone to experiencing termite issues in the future.
As a seller you should consider having an active termite bond in place prior to placing you home on the market. A termite bond is essentially an inspection and retainer agreement with a pest control company. Terms and conditions of bonds may vary by provider and state so be sure to understand what you are purchasing. Further, sellers are often required to fund a termite bond for a period of time following the home sale. These requirements vary so consult with your real estate professional.
Other Required Disclosures
Depending upon your state regulations, you may be required to make specific disclosures regarding your property when you place it up for sale. Mandatory disclosures do vary by state so consult with your real estate professional to better understand your specific requirements.
- Bed Bugs. Homeowners may be required by law to disclose bed bug infestations before selling a property. In most states voluntary disclosure is not required, but it is usually necessary to disclose any pest infestation issues when specifically asked by potential buyers.
- Termites can damage the structural integrity of a property, and homeowners in most states are legally obligated to disclose termite or wood-eating insect infestations to prospective buyers. See prior section on Termite Inspections.
- Pest Infestations. States such as Texas, Ohio and Florida have already drafted mandatory disclosure forms that sellers must complete when listing a property for sale. These forms now make it necessary for sellers to disclose any pest infestations that the property has experienced.
- Pest Disclosures – Case Law. Just because your specific state doesn’t currently require you to disclose pest infestations, there’s a growing amount of legal precedent heading in that direction. As it turns out, the Golden Rule remains a viable standard. If you’d want to know about it when you are the buyer, you might do well to share the same when you’re selling.
First Impressions Count
When it comes to selling your home, first impressions are important. Well maintained, pest free homes and lawns consistently receive more interest and command higher sales prices than homes overrun with projects, pests, or both.
Further, pest infestation disclosures can have a substantial impact on the price a buyer is willing to invest in a home.
The good news is that you can get and stay ahead of these concerns by deploying some easy to follow do it yourself pest control tips that will make your home safer and more enjoyable for your family while helping to get your home ready to sale fast when the time arrives.