Todd Lubar on Winning the “Battle of the Bugs” in Baltimore

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 Most cities in America would like to be featured as a number one destination for tourists, foodies, outdoor adventurers, history buffs, and the like. Year after year, places like Charleston, South Carolina and San Francisco, California top this “list of lists,” encouraging waves of visitors to visit for a while and part with some hard-earned money. But then there are the unsavory lists that real estate professionals like Todd Lubar see as substantial impediments to healthy cities and healthy real estate markets.

Baltimore, for example, recently toped a list that no one aspires to climb. Elizabeth Janney reports the news about Baltimore’s rise to the top of the “Bed Bug” list. “For the second year in a row, Baltimore claimed the No. 1 spot on the list, which Orkin created based on the number of bed bug treatments ordered in each metropolitan area from Dec. 1, 2016, through Nov. 30, 2017.”[1] Orkin competitor Terminix was a bit more generous to Baltimore, listing the city as 11th on its infestation list. Janney adds that beg bug infestations require professional treatment. “Bed bugs are very difficult to get rid of, which makes them an infamous pest. Companies like Orkin and Terminix use a combination of insecticides combined with non-pesticide approaches, like vacuuming the insects or heat-treating mattresses. Insecticides typically are less effective than mechanical methods.”[2]

What to Do?

 Whether you’re buying or renting a property, Todd Lubar and other real estate professionals advise their clients to know the signs of bed bugs before you sign your life and health away in pursuit of a particular property. “The number of bed bug infestations in the United States is still rising,” says Orkin entomologist Tim Husen, adding, “They continue to invade our homes and businesses on a regular basis because they are not seasonal pests, and only need blood to survive.”[3] Inasmuch, Todd Lubar and colleagues affirm some of the bed bug defying procedures defined by Orkin. They include:

  • Inspecting your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check mattress tags, seams and behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
  • Decreasing clutter around your home to make it easier to spot bed bugs.
  • Inspecting secondhand furniture, a common way for bed bugs to be travel, before bringing into your home.
  • Drying potentially infested bed linens, curtains and stuffed animals on the hottest temperature.[4]

Think your house is immune to this type of “Big City” infestation? Think again. “Any type of home is prone to bed bugs. It has nothing to do with sanitation,” says Husen. “We have treated for bed bugs everywhere, from newly built upscale homes to public housing.”[5]

The Role of the Real Estate Agent

When buyers or renters approach professionals like Todd Lubar on the frontend of a home rental or purchase, the bed bug scare can be managed and overcome in week one of the home search. Disclosures, for example, can help buyers identify potential problems in a desired home like previous bedbug infestations. A thorough home inspection can also identify and mitigate problems, as the top home inspectors will spot signs of an earlier or current infestation even when no notes on the issue appear in disclosures.

For consumers looking at a rental of a furnished or unfurnished apartment, the first signs of an infestation should be treated seriously, with pest control specialists called in to identify and nullify the problem.  As Todd Lubar and others point out, an infestation is not always a result of a dirty, neglected home. “Bed bugs ‘hitchhike’ and people often unknowingly carry bed bugs into homes in infested luggage and bags, furniture, mattresses and box springs, bedding or clothing,” note professionals with the Baltimore City Health Department.[6] “They can also travel between houses and apartments through cracks and openings in or around doors, windows, walls, and floors.”[7] Obviously, unexplained bug bites are a calling card of bedbugs. “Bites are often one of the first signs of a bed bug problem. Most bed bug bites are painless at first but later become large, itchy skin welts. These welts do not have a red spot in the center like fleabites. Although bed bugs are a nuisance, they are not known to spread disease.”[8]

Bottom Line

Beg bugs are a nuisance but they do not mean the end of the world for a home buyer, seller, owner, or renter. If you think an infestation is before you, be in touch with a pest control specialist equipped with the tools and techniques needed to deal with the problem. More importantly, do yourself a favor on the frontend of a purchase or lease, and connect with a seasoned real estate professional like Lubar. Real estate pros know where to look, what they’re looking for, and who to call if there’s a bedbug problem at your abode.

[1] Extracted from: “https://patch.com/maryland/baltimore/baltimore-tops-bed-bug-cities-list

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://health.baltimorecity.gov/node/2026

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

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