Selling Your Home When Your Neighbor’s House is an Eyesore
Posted on 13 August 2009
I just read this interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about the problems associated with trying to sell your home when you live next to a dump.
It was very timely since I encountered this very issue while previewing a beautiful new construction home in Sherman Oaks just last week. The developer built 2 gorgeous, side-by-side, high-end homes with luxury upgrades and beautiful finishes. The homes were identical in layout, but the builder wanted to Stage only one – the less desirable one. Why was it less desirable? Was it smaller? Did it have fewer rooms? Ummm…no. This one was less desirable because of the next-door neighbor.
I didn’t take a photo of the neighbor’s yard, but you can probably picture it. It looked like a junk yard, filled with old appliances, lumber and debris. And the home itself looked like it should’ve been condemned. It hadn’t been painted in decades, the yard was overgrown and it looked a bit like, well, a crack house. Hardly the sort of neighbor the buyer of a brand new luxury home would be excited about.
Of course my Staging plan included large potted plants and window treatments to block the view of the neighbor’s home from the bedrooms and patios. But at some point a potential buyer will open the curtains or peer over the fence, only to find that their future neighbors live in a dump.
So what do you do if you are trying to sell your home and your neighbor’s house isn’t quite as presentable as you’d like?
1) Approach your neighbor about the issue in a non-threatening way.
Attempt to solve the problem amicably (I find this is always the best way to deal with any issue). The article suggests that it might be a good idea to tell the neighbor that a Realtor or potential buyer made a complaint.
2) Offer to help.
Have a solution in mind and offer to help with any labor or costs involved. Simply offering to rake leaves or take a bunch of old junk to the Goodwill may be all it takes to solve the problem. If you don’t want this to seem too personal, try organizing a neighborhood cleanup with all the families on your block. Rent or borrow a truck to take everyone’s extra items to the dump or donate them. Tackle unfinished yard projects and pick up trash around the neighborhood. If everyone is taking part your neighbor won’t feel singled out.
3) If you are uncomfortable talking to your neighbor, ask your real estate agent or home staging professional to make the initial contact.
It may be less threatening if the news comes from a third party. You could even ask your agent or stager to say s/he is speaking to them without your prior knowledge. I am not one to condone lying, but if you are trying to preserve good relations with a neighbor, this type of white lie may be unavoidable.
Once again, make sure your representative addresses your neighbor respectfully (without trying to pick a fight) and offers to help in any way possible.
4) If all else fails and your neighbor refuses to comply, contact the local code enforcement office or neighborhood association. This should be a last resort, as it’s much more pleasant to get a friendly call from your neighbor rather than a complaint.
Just know that you may not get any satisfaction going this route. Oftentimes what may seem like a code violation is actually not against any rules. And filing a complaint doesn’t guarantee a quick fix. Your neighbor could file an appeal or simply drag their feet.
Another important recommendation from the article:
Ask the homeowner before doing any work yourself!
You don’t want to be accused of trespassing.