When a buyer considers the purchase of a home, they are buying not only a house but the neighborhood in which it sits and the neighbors surrounding it.
So, when you’ve got a problem neighbor that makes your home and other homes in the vicinity look less than desirable, what do you do? After all, your home is lovely, as are the others around it! It’s just that one inconsiderate or sloppy neighbor that’s giving your street a black eye!
How do you conquer this situation and still come out with the best sale price possible and a buyer that’s assured they’ll be happy with their new purchase?
Well, a lot of it will depend on what kind of problems the errant neighbor is creating as well as the type of community in which you live.
This is one of the most common complaints by those who dislike their neighbors and what they do on a regular basis. Loud parties, music blasting, household arguments, disrespecting your rights. All of those fall into the category of inappropriate behavior.
There are a number of ways to address this behavior, depending on where you live and just how bad the behavior might be. A good way to start – if you believe it’s safe – is to simply talk to the neighbor. They may not understand that what they are doing is distracting or disruptive, and the problem may only need to be pointed out to them in order to get them to stop. Most people are reasonable!
However, if you don’t believe talking will help, and the neighbor is doing something illegal (breaking noise ordinances, harassing others, etc.) you can call in the local authorities. It’s something no one likes to do, but if you want to sell your house, you may have to address the situation aggressively.
If you live in a development with a Homeowner’s Association, you can contact them with your complaint rather than addressing it personally. A condo board or a similar resident’s association normally has little tolerance for inappropriate behavior.
You see them in every neighborhood! The guy who never mows his lawn or the family who likes to pile their belongings outside on the porch. And then there’s the dude with the junk cars! No one wants to look at those!
So, where do you start?
If it’s just an overgrown lawn, you may simply want to offer to help. (Remember, you never know the circumstances. It could be that the neighbor’s mower is broken, and they can’t afford a new one or that they are too sick or elderly to handle the outside maintenance.) Just bite the bullet and tell them you’re listing your property for sale, and you want buyers to know that you have great neighbors that care for their property. That might be enough of a compliment to get them to do it themselves or to allow you to do it.
If the problem extends to trash, junk, and other issues that make the exterior look awful, there are different ways to handle those. Quite often, for example, there are laws about keeping junk cars on one’s property and you can probably get the local authorities involved and have them removed. Your neighbor may not be pleased, but they’ll likely comply or risk hefty fines.
The hoarder, of course, is another problem. This is the individual who keeps everything and piles it up both inside and outside their home. This is often a tough one as a true hoarder is usually very attached to their “stuff” and doesn’t see a reason to get rid of it. They often get very belligerent with anyone who tries to “help” as well. Again, you can try to assist by offering to rent a storage unit for them until your house sells, or you may have to get the authorities involved, especially if the situation is a health hazard or a danger to others.
If your neighbor has noisy or nasty dogs, you must address the situation with that neighbor. Barking dogs or animals that look and seem (or are) intimidating can make it difficult to sell, especially if your prime market is families with small children. It’s also a concern when a nasty dog is easily able to escape its enclosure.
Begin by setting up a time to speak calmly to that neighbor and tell them your concerns. Ask if they can make sure their dog is safely confined at all times and explain to them that you want to present them and the neighborhood in the best light possible so that you can secure a good buyer.
Again, most people will be reasonable but, if this neighbor is not and you’re worried about more than noise (i.e., safety), get law enforcement involved.
It’s Not Easy!
It’s never fun to address any of the above issues with a problem neighbor, but it simply needs to be done, preferably before you list. Ask your realtor for other suggestions as he/she will likely be familiar with local laws concerning noise ordinances, property conditions, junk storage, and more.