Bed bugs take over the New York Times Real Estate Section

by nobugsonme on August 22, 2009 · 6 comments

in bed bugs, bedbugs, co-ops, condos and coops, etiquette, money, multi-unit buildings, new york city, real estate

Well, almost. Bed bugs feature in a trio of New York Times Real Estate articles this weekend.

The first, Buying and Selling in Bedbug City attempts to navigate the complicated and murky waters of shopping for a co-op or condo in a multi-unit building, in what New York Magazine’s Intelligencer referred to Friday as “The Age of Bedbugs.”

Teri Karush Rogers reports in “Buying and Selling in Bedbug City” that

According to the law, sellers and their brokers must acknowledge a [bed bug] problem if asked. But conflicts of interest aside, neither can be expected to know whether an infestation exists elsewhere in the building.

The problem is so pervasive that some lawyers have begun incorporating sellers’ representations about bedbugs into sales contracts, adding to now-standard ones about leaks, mold and noise issues. And buyers are having to determine if the pests are a deal-breaker or just one more headache on the road to a new home.

The article also tells stories of buyers who walk away once they find out a building has a bed bug issue, and those who don’t.

Perhaps the most distressing point made:

“Most residential buildings in New York City have had bedbugs,” said Aaron Shmulewitz, a real estate lawyer at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman who represents 300 Manhattan co-op and condo boards. (Among his most frequently asked questions: Who must pay for extermination?)

(Emphasis mine.)

The message here is that it’s apparently no longer about whether your prospective building in New York City has ever had bed bugs, it’s now about whether your unit or a proximate unit has them, and about how well and proactively the building deals with bed bugs or has dealt with them in the past.

The second article, “Disgusting, Yes. But a Deal Breaker?” suggests buyers should consider the location and proximity of an infestation to the unit for sale, how long the infestation has been going on, how widespread it is, and the ability and willingness of owners/occupants to cooperate with and participate with treatment and prep (and, it is not mentioned but goes without saying: prevention of future infestations). Of course, it is often very difficult or impossible to determine the answers to those questions.

The third article, “Debugging a New Home: Of Surrogate Sleepers and Pest Sensors and Special Dust,” suggests techniques for making sure a new home is bed bug free: bed bug sniffing dogs are an option, but not perfect; hiring someone (presumably someone known to react to bed bug bites) to sleep in your new home is an option; pest control professionals Gil Bloom (of Standard Pest) and John Furman (Boot-a-Pest) are quoted as suggesting Nightwatch bed bug monitors; Jodi Gangloff-Kaufmann (of the New York State Integrated Pest Management program) suggests having the insides of walls dusted.

Rogers notes,

Dessicant dust can be placed in the spaces behind outlets, for example. In addition, floors can be sealed with a thick coat of polyurethane, and sealant caulk can be applied to moldings. Some pest control companies have started marketing these as “exclusion services.”

Of course, we have heard of people fleeing bed bugs, or who were trying to avoid ever getting them again, going to such lengths when moving to a new home, or when trying to keep their old home free of bed bugs after treatment. However, this is the first time I have heard these “exclusion services” suggested as preventive measures in the mainstream press to people who may have never had bed bugs before.

It’s a sign of the times — a scary one, but a healthy one nonetheless.

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1 Winston O. Buggy August 22, 2009 at 4:47 pm

I think the coverage a good thing and at least they got good people to quote.

2 nobugsonme August 23, 2009 at 1:57 am

Winston,

Agreed. The more press focused on bed bugs, the better.

But of course, even better if it is good coverage. They did a fine job.

3 navi August 27, 2009 at 4:43 pm

PLEASE,PAY ATTENTION TO THE SITUATION WHICH IS UNFOLDING IN THE HEALTH CARE AGENCIES OF NYC.THEY SEND THEIR PEOPLE TO THE INFECTED AREAS WITHOUT WARNING THEM ABOUT THE DANGER OF THE B.B.SOONER OR LATER THE EMPLOYEES ARE BECOMING THE CARRIERS OF THE B.B. BECAUSE THEY DON’T TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS.THE AGENCIES HAS TO TELL THE TRUTH TO THE HEALTH WORKERS,OTHERWISE THEY PUT THEM IN A VERY DUBIOUS POSITION-INSTEAD OF DOING A GOOD DEED TO PEOPLE,THEY BRING THEIR CLIENTS INTO TROUBLE.

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