A common problem you may face when trying to sell an empty home is keeping bugs at bay. When no one is living in the house, bugs can get in and are a pain to get rid of. Not to mention, seeing signs of bugs can be a deal-breaker for a potential buyer. Follow some simple steps to keeping bugs away from the home you're selling.
An Ounce of Prevention. . .
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests you try preventing pests before anything else. The best way to keep pests from calling your house home is to avoid giving them any reason to set up camp. Transfer the food in your pantry, such as cereal, chips and sweets, into glass or plastic containers that have a tight seal. You don't want the critters or bugs to be able to chew through the material.
Always clean up after making a meal or snack. That includes washing your dishes, wiping down the counter, table and stove, and sweeping the floor. Take out the garbage regularly and use a trash can with a heavy-duty lid. De-clutter your house by clearing out old newspapers and magazines, old clothing and junk, so that bugs have nowhere to hide. Keep surfaces, sinks and floors dry so that the pests don't have anything to drink.
Close Up Shop—and Then Sell
Sealing off doors and windows will keep bugs and rodents from coming inside. The National Resources Defense Council recommends using silicone caulk to seal holes and cracks along doorways, windows, and around water pipes and outlets. Put screens in your windows if you open them and place screens over the front of vents to block the way in for pests. This is a particularly important step for homeowners who want to sell their house, since having pests may be a deal-breaker for interested buyers.
Identify the Pests
Roaches produce allergens that can trigger asthma or allergy attacks in some people, according to the American Lung Association. The bugs also carry bacteria and pathogens that can spread disease such as gastroenteritis, commonly called the stomach flu. Other common pests, such as termites, aren't much better. According to the LSU Agricultural Center, termites cause more than $2 billion in damage each year.
If you do see evidence of bugs or rodents, it's helpful to know what you're up against. Compare the damage and the appearance of the pests to pictures on the Orkin site, for example. You can look at images of termite swarms and colonies; then compare them to what's happening in your house.
Go the Natural Route
Killing or eliminating the pest problem doesn't necessarily require the use of pesticides. Natural options for pest problems include vacuuming up evidence of nests and webs left by spiders, setting out glue traps to capture larger bugs or rodents, and setting out snap traps for mice or rats.
You also can try a natural bug-killer such as Borax, which effectively kills ants, roaches, termites and silverfish. Although Borax is not as toxic as stronger pesticides, you need to be careful when using it. The powder can irritate your eyes or skin if it comes in contact with them. Only use it in areas where small children can't reach.
Bring in the Pros
If pests remain a problem despite your best efforts, it might be time to bring in a professional exterminator, who can identify the source of the problem, which you might have missed, and offer the best solution to defeat the pests. Pro exterminators also are trained in the safe and appropriate ways to use heavy-duty pesticides, if needed.