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10 Ways Neighbors Ruin Home Sales (& How to Help Your Sellers)

Posted by Jessica Schweppe

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Jun 16, 2015 8:00:00 AM

In today's Agent Insights - Fred Griffin, a 30-year Licensed Real Estate Broker in Tallahassee, Florida, talks about how your neighbors can deter potential buyers and create issues with your home sales -  and offers advice on how to deal with them.

Here's Fred:

Fred_GriffinDo your sellers have obnoxious, inconsiderate, annoying neighbors? These people can be more than a nuisance - they can ruin your chances of selling their house. What's worse, bad neighbors can even wreck the value of nearby houses, lower comparable prices and deter potential buyers from wanting to move in!

The 10 Worst Types of Neighbors:

  1. Discontent Neighbors:
    Busybodies who complain about the neighbors, the neighborhood and everything else.

  2. Unkempt Neighbors:
    Neighbors who don't care what their house looks like. They leave Lawns that are not mowed; junk and trash in the yard.

  3. Absent Neighbors:
    Abandoned houses (like FNMA and HUD foreclosures that are in terrible disrepair).

  4. Noisy Neighbors:
    Hangouts for teenagers and loud parties.

  5. Messy Neighbors:
    Garage doors left open, collections of items stored in plain sight.

  6. Dilapidated Neighbors:
    Weather-beaten houses that are in serious need of repair.

  7. Snarly Neighbors:
    Barking, threatening, or vicious dogs.

  8. Car Tinkering Neighbors:
    Cars on blocks, "driveway mechanics", abandoned vehicles.

  9. Disturbing Neighbors:
    Loud music, shouting neighbors, fighting spouses.

  10. Nosy Neighbors:
    Overbearing neighbors who want to talk to all your prospective buyers.

Any of these situations can turn away potential buyers - and, bad neighbors are not just in the "lower-end houses"... they can appear in all types of neighborhoods and all price ranges, from starter home neighborhoods to upscale Golf Course Community neighborhoods. Make sure to help sellers take the appropriate steps for their situation. You can use the advice below as a guideline.

What can your seller do?

  • First - Talk to the Neighbor:
    Your seller might be able to resolve the problem with a simple conversation and a little diplomacy. Sometimes people are not aware that their behavior, or the appearance of their house, is offensive. Dog owners may be oblivious to the barking. Busy parents who are often out of town may not know that their teenage children are using the house as a party place for their friends. Sellers should talk to them and give them a chance to react before taking more extreme measures.

  • Contact the City: 
    Sellers can contact their city Department of Code Enforcement, Environmental Management, or Zoning. The cars on blocks and the un-mowed lawn may be a violation of City Ordinances. Let the City or County Government be "the bad guy" who gets the  problems corrected.

  • Contact the Homeowners' Association:
    Some offenses might be a violation of the commonity HOA's deed restrictions. Many HOA's have the legal authority to place liens on houses that are in violation of the covenants. Help your seller contact the HOA and insist that they enforce the covenants. If needed, encourage your seller to talk to an attourney for advice on the best way to proceed.

  • Find Out Who's Invested in Forclosures:
    The Big Banks and quasi-Governmental agencies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae don't care, but you or your seller can try contacting the Lender that is the owner of record. Another option is to bring in a local TV Station or other news media outlet, and ask them to do a segment on the eyesore.

  • If All Else Fails, Talk to an Attorney: 
    If the situation is bad enough, it may be worth checking to see if a civil lawsuit is a viable option. Granted, few people want to bring a lawsuit given the cost, the time, and the personal animosity that may result, but it may be the only choice.

Bad neighbors can wreck your chances of helping your clients sell their house. If your seller has nasty neighbors, give them advice on where to start. If the situation is already escalated, refer them to a real estate attorney for help. 

To learn more about Fred, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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