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When Neighbors Make It Tough to Sell …

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

You have a great house to sell, but then you look next door–could the neighbor be hurting your chances of finding a buyer and getting the highest price for your home? Certainly, the “neighbor effect” has become a growing problem in recent years.

Foreclosures and abandoned homes have left some nearby properties decaying, which has made some buyers grow wary of moving next door to a home with overgrown lawns, boarded up windows, and trash scattered about.

But foreclosures and abandoned homes aren’t always the problem. Sometimes it’s just a stubborn nearby neighbor who is making it a challenge to sell.

Maybe they send their yapping dog outside whenever a potential buyer comes near, or their yard or fence’s lack of upkeep is bringing down the “look” of the street. Buyers don’t just eye the home for-sale, they’re also looking next door to see who their neighbor will be…and they don’t want to see trash.

A man in Brighton, Colo., was accused of sabotaging his neighbor’s home sale. The man posted warning signs to potential buyers on his recreational vehicle parked outside of his home. He wanted to let would-be buyers know what they could expect if they moved next to him: Loud parties, loud music, and loud cars. He also warned he has three Rottweilers and he’s “anti-horse” (the home is in a horse community). The real estate agent said buyers quickly stopped calling after the man’s signs went up.

County officials did step in, fining the man up to $100 per day for the signs and for having too many vehicles and trailers parked on his property.

Some cities are cracking down on messy neighbors, imposing daily fines or, in extreme cases, even putting them in jail.

A 53-year-old woman in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Linda Ruggles, was jailed for six days for having a messy yard and not paying a $480 city fine for it. The yard had piles of shingles on the rooftop (for three years), a driveway covered in scrap metal, and toilet bowls that were being used as planters. Neighbors had complained that the woman’s messy yard was bringing down the value of their homes.

But neighbors, contractors, and a real estate group offered to help the woman clean up her yard, after learning her business had slowed and all of her money was going toward keeping up with her mortgage to avoid foreclosure on the home she had owned for 15 years. She said she didn’t have the money to cover the cost of cleaning up her yard.

In some cases, a neighbor’s mess may be due to a health or financial circumstance, in which a helping hand is all that is needed. But in other cases, you may stumble across a saboteur neighbor who just doesn’t seem to want to help their neighbor sell a home. For some tips on how to handle potential saboteurs and messy neighbors, check out Battling the Neighborhood Eyesore.

Have you ever had a messy neighbor almost derail one of your deals? How did you handle it?

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