Australia Markets open in 8 hrs 25 mins

'I didn't think it would happen': Woman's warning to homeowners after losing $80k overnight

For most of us, the family home is our pride and joy - not to mention our biggest asset.

But an Adelaide woman was shattered to learn her long-term investment lost a third of its value overnight.

Bronwyn Frank worked hard to achieve her property dream, so imagine her horror when she discovered termites had eaten away at her three bedroom Morphett Vale home.

Termites caused significant financial damage to an Adelaide home. Picture: Today Tonight

The termites had surreptitiously caused substantial damage to three separate walls inside the house. The home-owner's hard-earned asset was suddenly worth $80,000 less than the day before.

"When I found out I was extremely shocked. I was angry and I was devastated," she told Today Tonight.

“'I'd been working all my life to have this as a nest egg, and it's been taken from me... The house is what I'd been working for all my working life."

“I did not think it would ever happen to me, I thought it would happen to somebody else, like you see on the TV.”

Bronwyn Frank's hard-earned asset was suddenly worth $80,000 less than the day before. Picture: Today Tonight

To make matters worse, Mr Frank had just put her property on the market and had just received an attractive offer.

Her agent Simon Paterson accepted a $280,000 bid on her behalf, but the sale was subject to a building and pest inspection.

"The report came back to us stating there were some major issues," the agent said.

"We're certainly not as agents aware of the structural integrity of the home, whether there is or isn't pests and a lot of the homeowners aren't either."

It came as a devastating blow when Ms Frank's agent broke the news.

Bronwyn Frank's major asset was literally eaten from under her. Picture: Today Tonight

"He just said look, I've got bad news, there's termites in the house and the young fella who was going to buy your house has pulled out'."

The homewoner said she was "extremely disappointed" she hadn't realised before putting the home one the market.

Ms Frank said she became complacent after getting a termite inspection when she moved in, then every two years after that for about 12 years, with the results always coming back negative.

"I just decided that it hadn't happened and I didn't think it was going to happen,"she said.

Learning from her expensive oversight, Ms Frank offers advice to others.

The value of the property greatly diminished. Picture: Today Tonight

"Whether you're living in it, renting it, whether you're buying it, selling it, just get a regular termite inspection done. Saves a lot of heartache at the end," she said.

Termite expert Neil Raw, who inspected the damage, said "They've come straight up one of the door frames, into the top plates. They've travelled in three different directions."

While it's not the worst termite problem he's seen, Mr Raw said the main living area will need serious repair.

But building inspector Fred Centofanti says renovating might not be worth it.

Real estate agent Simon Paterson accepted a $280,000 bid on her behalf, but the sale was subject to a building and pest inspection. Picture: Today Tonight

"Clearly the amount of money you would spend on a building would depend on where the building is, the value of the building, the age of the building, the character of the building.'

Mr Centofanti said without carrying out a destructive inspection of the property, the full extent of the damage may not be revealed.

"It'd be very difficult for any building inspector or even a builder to come along and tell you how much the remedial work would be worth, because they'd be giving you a price and then when they start the work it's possible they'll find more damage."

It appears demolition may be the best option, but with the value of the property greatly diminished.

But the 560sq m property must be sold. With the agent taking an honest approach, someone could come away with a real bargain at auction.

"The bidders can fight it out amongst themselves and we'll see what it makes on the day," Mr Paterson said.