FAQ: Can You Sell a House with Bats?
When you inherit a home from a family member, you can almost always count on the property coming with problems both big and small. The house may have foundation issues, especially in California where the risk of earthquakes can shift the home and the concrete slab or raised foundation it sits on. There may be plumbing and electrical issues or outdated appliances that no longer work efficiently (if they work at all). Or, the house may simply need some sprucing up if it’s older or sat vacant for a long time.
And, though rare, it’s possible that bats have invaded the property as well. As small as they are, they can create big problems, too. Unfortunately, when you find them, it’s also likely that they aren’t the only problem you’re going to have to deal with—especially if your plans are to sell the property.
Ridding your home of bats, however, is a complicated, and potentially sticky, legal process.
So, can you sell a house with bats still in residence? Well, that can get tricky, too.
Since the last thing you need at a time like this is more confusion around an already difficult situation, we’ll help you sort through what to do.
Can You Sell a House with Bats?
Unfortunately, when you find that bats have made a home in your house, they’ve likely been living there for years. Most bat species are territorial. Though they can also be migratory to more temperate climates, like those found in Southern California, bats often lend themselves to year-round residency. Even when bats migrate, they frequently return to their favorite roosting sites—especially mothers needing a safe place to rear their young. So, before you sell a house with bats, you’ll probably want to know how long they may stay and what exactly you are dealing with.
Whether the bats living in your house are there year-round or during the colder seasons only, the extent of the potential damage to your home can be substantial.
California bat colonies can range in number from 30 individuals to a few thousand. Even at the low end, that’s a lot of bats. And, though they don’t typically chew through walls or wiring—as the occasional Hollywood film would have you believe—they can damage these and other items.
Bat droppings, called guano, and urine accumulate quickly, eventually soaking through walls, insulation, ceilings, wiring, and even sheetrock. A large bat colony over time can cause structural damage to a house, and a significant drop in property value, with its waste products.
Bats Spread Disease
Bats can spread disease and introduce other pests, too. They are carriers of rabies and the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, the pores of which, when inhaled by people, can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening lung infections. Bat mites are an issue as well. Luckily, as deadly as they are, neither rabies nor histoplasmosis infections are common in humans. Mites, on the other hand, frequently make humans their hosts. Still, the mere risk of any infection is enough to scare away potential home buyers. It’s also enough to further devalue the home.
To raise the home’s value, potentially attract more buyers, and help the sale of the house go through quickly, you can opt to rid the home of bats and perform all necessary repairs. But, that is going to cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Ridding Your House of Bats
The first thing you need to bear in mind when it comes to removing bats from the home is that harming them in many states is illegal. Federal law protects several species, too. So, even in states where laws against harming bats do not exist, their federally-protected status prevails.
The penalties for breaking state or federal laws are usually stiff, too. In California, you will pay a fine and could spend several months in jail. You cannot even attempt to capture a bat without a license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Your federal penalty will depend on whether (and where) the bat is on the endangered species list. But, you can count on potentially paying somewhere between $3,500 and $13,000 for killing a single bat.
In contrast, paying to have bats humanely removed—called bat exclusion—can cost as little as $150 for a small colony and between $500-$1,500 for a mid-sized colony. When dealing with a larger colony, however, that number could reach as painfully high as $8,000.
If you also account for the damage the bats have probably done to the home, your total cost can start to make your home sale proceeds look like a pittance. If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to pay several hundred dollars more for waste cleanup—though the time you’ll have to invest for bat exclusion, cleaning, odor removal, and property repairs can extend into months. And, if it’s bat mating season, legally getting rid of the bats will have to wait until after the pups are born.
Selling the House As-Is
Alternately, you could choose to sell the house as-is, with the bats in place and despite any damage done. But, as a solution to your bat problem, this option presents a few complications.
First and foremost, with both property damage and exposure to potential health hazards looming over their heads, most traditional buyers aren’t likely to bite—no matter how cheaply you price the property.
It’s not just because they’ll have to contend with the bat removal themselves or take on the responsibility of getting the house move-in ready, either. Lenders rarely approve loans on fixer-upper homes. So, your average couple or family simply might not have access to adequate funding for the purchase or renovation of the house.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you can sell a house with bats—or any other issue—and withhold information about their existence. You are legally obligated to volunteer everything you know about a property you’re trying to sell. Though laws can vary from state to state, this is not a responsibility you’ll want to take lightly. In California, for example, even when a home sells ‘as-is,’ if the new owner discovers an undisclosed issue one to two years later, they can try to sue the previous owner.
Instead, you’ll need to find a trusted cash buyer who’s in the business of taking homes as-is, no matter their condition or whether there is any kind of infestation. Such a buyer can save you money and potentially put more in your pocket from the sale—especially if they don’t charge fees or commission. A cash buyer will certainly save you time and prevent a whole lot of hassle.
The Best Solution to Your Bat Problem
The truth is, whether you inherit a property from family or have lived in your house for years, even a rare problem like a bat infestation is going to hold you up when it’s time to sell. That’s why, at Sell Your House Direct, we prioritize finding solutions for sellers that provide quick and easy returns from a sale. Sometimes, that means selling the home to us, as-is and for cash.
After all, we can often close in one week or less. But, because we’re real estate advisors—not just cash buyers—we aim to help you find your best solution. We won’t charge you any fees for our service, either.
So, if you want to give us a call to ask whether you can sell a house with bats to us, please do. Not only will we have an answer. we’ll even give you an offer.