Get Rid of those Pests – Portland Home Selling Tips

portland home selling tips

You’ve done the hard work of getting your Portland home ready to sell – cleaning, organizing and painting. You’ve contracted with a real estate agent and agreed on a listing price. Just when you think you’re ready for your first home showing, they appear. 

Maybe your home has an out-of-the-blue ant problem. Maybe it’s just always been a haven for spiders. Perhaps you can hear the little family of mice scurrying about in the attic. Whatever the pest, they’re sure to be a turn-off for potential home buyers. 

One thing we love about the Portland metro area is that it’s a prime nature zone — but living with urban and suburban wildlife can be a tricky dance. Bugs are fascinating outdoors, but terrifying indoors, and these along with rodents can do some serious damage to the home.

Before you call an exterminator, though, it pays to do a little research. Much of the time, homeowners can be rid of the pests by taking some simple home-based measures, saving the expense of hiring a pro — and the price hit of having your home marked “infested” by buyers and their Portland real estate agents. 

Bed bugs

Let’s address the scariest one first: Bed bugs. After years of doing battle with these pests, it seems the bed bug invasion in Portland is starting to be controlled, though of course new infestations happen daily. Bed bugs are tiny insects that enjoy living in beds, couches, and any other type of furniture where humans hang out. They can live other places in the home, but only in the case of a severe infestation. Bed bugs are usually spread by someone bringing a new item of furniture into the home that was previously infested, or traveling from an infested place and carrying bed bugs with them in their luggage. 

Bed bug management is complicated and we could devote an entire blog post to it. Reading up on these pests on the EPA website is a good place to start. It may be possible to treat individual items of furniture separately if the infestation is fairly new and minor. However, if the bugs have spread throughout the home, the best course of action will be to call a pest management company and have them treat the entire home. 


Compared to bed bugs, ants are less of a nuisance but definitely more visible, liable to begin one of their tell-tale trails just before buyers show up to view your home. They’re especially active in the summer months in Portland. Kitchen ants can be a sign of openings in the foundation or envelope of the home, so you’ll want to prevent ant attacks before they start. 

Step 1: Remove food sources. Ants love crumbs, unsealed containers, and easy water sources. Not only should your kitchen be spotless before the home showing, with all food stored out of sight in sealed containers, but any small plumbing leaks should be fixed as well. Consider using fake fruit for the fruit bowl on your counter, or choose another centerpiece (keeping in mind that potential buyers could also be allergic to flowers). 

Step 2: Seal gaps and cracks around the home. This should be done anyway prior to obtaining the required Home Energy Score Report to sell a home in Portland. In particular, look for cracks and holes around windows, doors and foundations. 

Step 3: Cut back or remove any vegetation serving as a bridge between the home and the outdoors. Ants love these! 

Step 4: If ants are still getting in, sprinkle diatomaceous earth — a non-toxic insect barrier — around door and window sills. You can also cover the entire outside perimeter of the home. 

Step 5: If you have taken all these steps and still find an ant trail in your home, put out an ant trap. Try to find the ants’ destination in your home and eliminate the food or water source. Change the ant trap when it becomes full.

Important note: If you see an ant that’s much larger than the common black ants usually found in the home, you might have carpenter ants. This pest is one to take seriously as they can chew through wood and cause structural damage to a home. Fortunately, they do move slowly. Call a pest control company right away and have them handle it — this is not a pest to DIY removal. 


The eight-legged creatures are very common in Portland and orders of magnitude lest pest-y than other pests. They catch bugs like mosquitos and wasps while providing an important food source for outdoor birds. However, home buyers can get very creeped out by spiders — especially if they’re not from the area! Removing spiders and cobwebs around the home is an important step in cleaning and staging a Portland home. Our real estate team recommends a vacuum with a long hose and a spider mop for difficult-to-reach locations. Spiders can be relocated outdoors.


These invaders will take advantage of any opening in the home larger than a quarter. Once in the walls, they can be difficult to eradicate, and the services of a professional pest control company may be necessary. If you’re getting ready to sell a home and you’ve noticed some of the telltale signs of rodents (chew marks, nighttime noises), chances are you’re going to want to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Just be sure that your plan includes eradication and exclusion — that means preventing the rodents from returning once they’re out. In addition, you’ll want to take steps to eliminate rodent droppings from crawlspaces, attic joists, and anywhere else the creatures have been. If they turn up in the home inspection, buyers are going to want answers!

Pests are a headache; selling your home doesn’t have to be. Our Top 1% Sellers’ Agent is here to answer your questions and guide you through the process. We’ve seen it all, and there’s yet to be a home-sale problem we couldn’t solve. Try us!

July 19, 2019

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

Pay less (4.5% commission max.) and get more with his top 1% listing team or buy your next home with his excellent top 1% buyer’s team. We work from Salem, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington and beyond. Check out our full services areas on the top menu.