During the buyer's inspection period, the buyer should ask for a termite report. This includes much more than termite activity - it covers any wood destroying organisms such as carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and wood destroying fungus in addition to termites. The report is prepared by a state-certified inspector as evidence of the existence or absence of wood destroying organisms or pests which were visible and accessible on the date the inspection was made.

What are they looking for in addition to actually seeing the pests?

Any wood-to-earth contact, which allows pests to come up from the soil and enter the house through the wood. This can also be an issue even with fences or decks, or planters made from railroad ties that touch the house.

Excessive cellulose debris, which can include overgrown dried grasses at the stem wall, firewood stacked against the house, newspapers or scrap wood which could harbor and allow wood-destroying organisms to reach the house.

Faulty grades, which is when soil is packed so that water flows toward instead of away from the house. Conditions that allow water to accumulate and stand along the stem wall must be corrected.

And excessive moisture, which is usually from leaks that provide termites with a water source. This can be from roof leaks, plumbing such as showers or outside faucets, that keep the ground wet.

Many of these items can be dealt with by the seller prior to a formal termite report. I will walk your property with you at the time of listing and note anything I see that should be corrected that might be of concern to a termite inspector of a potential buyer.