Piggy Neighbors, Foreclosed or REO's in the neighborhood
This issue is certainly a problem as no one wants to live near a neighbor that doesn't have pride of ownership. Especially in these times with dozens of foreclosed and abandoned homes. What I have done to help my clients selling around these properties is to approach the bank or owner and get permisssion to clean it up myself or pay to have someone do it for me. Nobody usually says no to FREE.
A few years ago there was a home listed with a competitor of mine for a year that would not sell. The owner let the listing expire and was referred to me known as the "agent that sells the unsellable" to market it for them before THEY got foreclosed upon as well. The house my clients owned was decent but needed a few things to be done inside like paint and carpet cleaning. But this was not the reason for the house not selling.
The house directly across the street was a big issue. The owners were getting foreclosed upon and had a tenant that had left the property outside in terrible disarray. With three non-registered cars in the yard exhibiting flat tires, bashed in windows and blocks underneath the frames, the place looked like a junk yard or an area with break-ins. To add to the picture there was a couch in the front yard, trash barrels, animal cages and various old rusted appliances. An eyesore in the neighborhood with no lawn and tons of leaves and brush, I quickly surmised that this "white elephant" was turning people off to our listing, just on the drive by.
My clients had approached the town health department on Cape Cod and various other departments regarding the issue, but no one could seem to help. Being the pro-active REALTOR that I am, I decided to contact the owners of the nasty house, who had no money or energy, for permission to tow and donate the abandoned cars. We requested the titles for the cars from the old tenants, who gladly signed them over to us for $100. Then I got permission from the owners of the house to clean up their front yard and do a dump run. Since it was winter, there was not much that could be done to the landscaping. But I hired a handyman guy to fix the front screen door that was flapping in the wind and also contracted a landscape company to get rid of all the old leaves, brush and old dead Christmas Tree. True, it cost my company about $450 to do all this but I knew we could sell my listing with this "eye sore of a property" cleaned up.
True to my instinct the listing went pending in three weeks and sold in 45 days. I wrote the expense off as a business expens to "marketing". One important caution is not to get overzealous and trespass or clean it up without permission. Also, it helps if you have good relations with the neighbor or tenants or REO company, otherwise if you are a for sale by owner and do not, hire a Realtor can make it happen.