Only a decade ago, bedbugs were virtually unheard of in the United States. While many homeowners had probably heard the saying “Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” the majority were largely unconcerned with the reality of such instruction. Today, however, nearly everyone knows someone who has experienced issues with a bedbug home infestation and, furthermore, there is an entire industry based on the identification, prevention and eradication of these nasty little pests.

The real issue for real estate investors and bedbugs is that they can easily and immediately kill a sale. “Anyone can get bedbugs in their home. They are not a sign of uncleanliness,” said Ron Harrison, Orkin entomologist and the company’s director of technical services. Unfortunately for homeowners with an infestation, they are also extremely difficult to detect and eliminate, as they are very small (about the size of an apple seed when full grown), can survive a year without feeding and hide in cracks and crevices. Many buyers would rather find another property than risk permanent “creepy crawlies” in their new home in the event that they discover there is an existing problem or that the seller had one in the past.

In order to avoid purchasing properties with bedbug issues and identify potential infestations, investors should look for the few telltale signs that bedbugs are or have been in residence. It is not enough to simply talk to homeowners, who may have a vested interest in hiding their bedbug history and who may not be aware that they have an issue, as many people have no physical reaction to bedbug bites. Inspect the home for signs of bedbugs, including any mattresses, behind baseboards and headboards, and in electrical outlets and picture frames.

Also, be aware of cities that are particularly prone to this issue. Orkin recently released a list of “top bedbug cities” based on how many treatments the company performed for residential and commercial buildings between December 2015 and November 2016. Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York; and Columbus, Ohio, were the top five.

You can get more of Carole VanSickle Ellis’ coverage of this topic and others online at

About the Author

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the host of Real Estate Investing Today, a daily nine-minute investing podcast, and the editor of the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter. Contact her at


  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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