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Changing homes is an exciting step for any family, but there are dozens of logistical barriers and other things to keep in mind. Is this a fair price? How are the schools? What are the neighbors like?

Another key question to ask is if there's anything you might be unwittingly inheriting, namely a serious pest problem. Anyone showing a house or apartment will do what they can to cover up an ant infestation or damage caused by rodents, but if you don't catch these issues during a staging, you could end up spending your first weeks in a new home fighting off unwanted animals. Keep in mind that although a seller will need to disclose any pest problems, you could still be in for a surprise.

To avoid this frustrating possibility, use these tips to spot pest damage while touring a potential new property:

Keep a watchful eye

Anyone showing a home likely spent a few hours tidying up and making sure things are in tip-top shape. This will make it much harder to spot noticeable signs of pest problems. That being said, if you know what to look for, you can uncover clues that may hint at possible issues.

For example, bed bugs leave behind characteristic red or brown markings that can stain bedding, carpeting and even walls. Spots in bedrooms could be a sign that the home has been or still is infested with these unwanted insects.

Other creatures can also cause unmistakable damage. Mice and rats ruin woodwork with incessant gnawing, and their feces stain cabinets and floorboards as well. Cracks or small holes could hint at the presence of carpenter ants or other insects. The Garden Helper found that browning house plants could also be a sign of a pest problem.

Ask tough questions

As you walk through a potential new abode, you should gather as much information as possible. Besides directly asking about past issues caused by pests, inquire about water damage, external repairs and other problems that could attract animals.

Along with asking the right questions, you need to do more than give a property a once-over, especially if you're seriously considering making a purchase. U.S. News & World Report suggested using a flashlight to look in places that are otherwise difficult to examine. You might spot a hidden mouse trap under a refrigerator or dead insects on top of a cupboard.

If the home or apartment is part of a larger complex, ask directly about pest control preparedness and if there has been any history of problems.

Monitor the yard

Remain vigilant as you examine the lawn and outdoor area of a property. Holes in the grass or the trunk of trees could signal issues caused by squirrels, groundhogs, birds or any number of insects. Likewise, consider the layout of the yard, as pooling water can attract mosquitoes and lots of brush bodes well for ticks, fleas and other parasitic bugs.

Take into consideration what's near the home in question as well. It might be nice to have a restaurant right around the corner, but that could mean a higher risk of rat problems. Even future construction projects in the neighborhood could lead to otherwise unforeseen issues.

Look for strange smells or noises

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, rodent droppings and urine can contain hantaviruses and other harmful pathogens. More to the point, animal waste also leaves behind a stale smell that can linger in cabinets or attics. Soft scampering in the walls may also be a telltale sign that a property is housing more than just human inhabitants.

If you're concerned about a potential new home, reach out to a pest control specialist to learn more about specific risks and hazards.

Abell Pest Control is a family owned Canadian company dedicated to providing effective, professional and courteous service in pest management.Started in 1924 with one office, Abell now employs several hundred people with branch offices across Canada and the United States.

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