What is a Termite Letter and Do I Need One?
A termite clearance letter (also known as an Official Georgia Wood Infestation Report) is typically issued
in connection with the purchase or refinancing of a home in the State of Georgia. The report involves
more than just an inspection for termites. A licensed evaluator / inspector will look for other types of
wood-destroying organisms such as powder post beetles and wood boring beetles. The inspector /
evaluator should also make note of wood decaying fungus (literally mold that can eat the wood framing
on a house) and any areas where wood is in contact with the ground. If any type of wood-destroying
organism is viewed (or the evaluator/inspector is unable to view key areas) then the termite company will
typically send a document explaining why a termite clearance letter was not issued.
A termite clearance is not required by law, but many lenders will require one to approve a loan. It makes
sense that the lender would want to protect their interest and not issue a loan on a house that is infested
with termites. Typically, a termite clearance letter will expire after 90 days so another letter may be
needed if a closing is delayed for an extended period.
In the Atlanta area termite clearance letters will typically cost between $50-150. However, there are some
home inspection companies that will offer free termite letters if done in conjunction with a home
When purchasing a home the seller may have a transferable termite bond already in place. A termite
bond is essentially a warranty offered by a termite company that will include treatment, regular
inspections, and an agreement on the responsibilities of the company if active termites are discovered. A
retreat bond will provide retreatment services if active termites are found. A repair and retreat bond will
also cover the costs for repairs if the termites cause damage while the house is covered by the bond.
There is a saying often repeated in the Atlanta area: “It’s not a matter of if you get termites, it’s just a
matter of when.” Whether or not it is required by your lender, it is always a good idea to make sure the
home you are buying or refinancing is protected from wood-destroying insects. Be sure to have a termite
inspection and make sure that you will be able to have the house covered by a termite bond.