In a perfect world, nothing external would influence your home’s value. As long as the market is on your side and you ensure that the place is in spick-and-span condition, you should not have any problem getting your home sold – right?
Just do not forget about your neighbor’s house, especially if it’s in close proximity to yours….
The frustrating truth is that a bad apple in your neighborhood can make selling your house a real struggle. Look, there will always be the late-night partiers, the hoarders, the non-stop dog barkers and the just plain lousy, rude neighbors who can easily throw off a sale. If you have a neighbor living next door who fits one of the above descriptions, it could easily put a wrench in your house selling process.
In preparing to sell your home, you can keep your lawn cut. You can replace a damaged shutter on your house. You can tuck away your side porch clutter into your garage. But you can’t take the same action on your neighbor’s house, at least not without his/her permission. Your best option: a smile, a diplomatic conversation, and possibly a willingness to spend some money on your neighbor’s house. And keep your fingers crossed – that won’t hurt either. But despite your best efforts, your only remedy, sadly, might be to lower your asking price, get the place sold, and get the heck out of Dodge.
And once in a while, you may just have some legal recourse.
Here are 3 common kinds of horrible neighbors and advice on how you should handle them when your home is on the market for sale.
The neighbor who wants your home
If your next-to-door neighbors want to expand their property, they may have an eye on your home and no fears about shooing-off the competitors. For example, a vindictive neighbor who is eager to purchase your home, may conveniently make himself/herself available to answer questions every time somebody pulls in to see your house.
How to deal? You can sell your house to the neighbors, but if they are expecting a neighborly discount (or they’ve turned you off with their bad behavior), you should sit them down for an open conversation and tell them you’ll consider their immediate, full price written offer. Otherwise, ask them politely but firmly to stop speaking with other potential buyers viewing your home. If they ignore your request and continue to scare these home buyers, you should consult an attorney. You might have a case to sue them for libel but you should expect the road to success to be full of twists, turns and unexpected detours.
The neighbor with a bad attitude
Maybe your neighbor is just a miserable guy, keen to make you, your family and the entire block equally miserable.
These less than savory attributes can make your house a nightmare to sell. Eventually, you might be forced to sell the house to an out of state buyer who will not know why you’re selling and isn’t bothered to speak to anybody about the neighborhood.
However, hoping that your buyer does not do due diligence might not be a practical option. You should work with the other residents of the neighborhood to solve the problems – they may be willing to band together and approach your miserable neighbor “en force”.
Whatever you do, ensure that you consult your attorney and real estate agent about what you should disclose, particularly if you are dealing with potentially criminal elements. This depends on your state and your real estate agent can give you more details.
The neighbor’s house who trashes the neighborhood
Not everybody keeps their home perfectly clean, and you would be surprised if you expect as much- even from the good neighbors. But when disheveled becomes unmitigated disaster, selling your house can be quite a nightmare.
For example, you might share a driveway with a neighbor who does not make any effort to make the path look acceptable, has dead, rusting vehicles in their front yard, or a no trespassing sign that states that their house is protected by Smith & Wesson.
However, there is nothing legally-objectionable here. You may have a case with the vehicles or the other junk on the neighbor’s property—take photographs, document the condition, and get in touch with the local or municipal authorities. Nonetheless everything else is just bad manners.
Unfortunately, many neighbor disagreements are quite difficult to solve in the legal system. Nearly all lawsuits involve the payment of money damages for tangible harm. Many neighbor disputes aren’t about cash, but trying to correct the behavior.
If you are dealing with a real problem house – such as a home filled with fraternity brothers who like to party 24 /7, or worse, your first step should be talking with the homeowners association (if there is one) and the other neighbors, if possible. The association may offer to clean up debris, mow the lawn, or take other essential action using their rules, regulations, and bylaws.
The author, Rick Sheppard, is a licensed real estate broker in Pennsylvania and a 32 year veteran of the real estate trenches. He knows a lot because he’s seen a lot. If you have any questions about this or any real estate related topic, feel free to contact Rick at [email protected] and he’ll do his best to answer your questions.