A Question of Neighbours

Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen

A Question of Neighbours


Once in awhile the question gets asked - "What do you know about the neighbours?" or "Who lives next door?" Whether the question is directed at me representing a buyer or directly to the seller or their agent, this is basically an open mine field for anyone who actually wants to attempt to answer. The question it seems gets asked more frequently by folks looking at high and medium density complexes as opposed to single family residential neighbourhoods. Closer living quarters equals closer contact.

The reasons why buyers ask are usually based around personal safety, level of interaction and how people tend to get along, noise, expectations of participation etc. (Though in my experience they aren't actually able to define what they want to know clearly) All very difficult for anyone to assess and pass fair judgement. And that's what it is - a judgement based on personal experiences, perceptions, expectations, desires, personal like and dislikes. Some people do have biases about who the people who maybe living around them but how someone else describes another person is very subjective. Is it the realtor to suss out ‘kind of people' will live near you? There's also a bigger question of ethics underlying the smaller question of wanting to know about the neighbours.

If you ask someone about neighbour and they tell you he has a slight mental health problem - what exactly does that mean? It means nothing really because there is no substance behind the statement. If you ask the woman who was cheated on by her husband by a neighbour, she may have nothing nice to say even though the "culprit" maybe a very nice individual. Maybe someone doesn't like kids - or at least the neighbour's kids. Maybe a neighbour doesn't like certain cooking smells and has made an opinion of someone based on that. This could go on indefinitely. It happens all the time and it's all about a point of view. At some point, this could be detrimental to the seller.

If a buyer is truly concerned (and they should be) about criminal activity, sex offenders and drug houses, and property crimes, that information is easily accessed by anyone including the realtor through local crime statistics and a quick search on the internet of community news stories. This is fact based information and part of my role to help people make educated decisions about where they want to live.

If a buyer truly feels the need to know about neighbours, than they need to do the legwork themselves of driving around, talking with people, knocking on doors, asking personal/private questions, talking with property managers etc. The can then form their own opinions based on the opinions of others.


Comments (8)

Kim Dove
Watson Realty Corp - Jacksonville, FL
Realtor - Jacksonville FL

Jan, great advice! I direct buyers to our city website when they want to know about criminal activity in a certain area.

Apr 23, 2011 03:34 AM
Kwee Huset
Kwee Huset Realty - Venice, FL
Venice Florida Homes For Sale

Hi Jan, good post and you do the right thing.

Apr 23, 2011 03:37 AM
Edward & Celia Maddox
The Celtic Connection Realty - Queen Creek, AZ

Good article.  The answer depends on who you are asking, two differenct individuals may answer same question 180 degrees apart.

Apr 23, 2011 03:37 AM
Jeff Craig
Hang Me Up Photos - Jamestown, NC
Greensboro Area Real Estate Photography

We are not legally allowed to make any comments about neighbors.  We direct them to websites or suggest they talk to other neighbors.

Apr 23, 2011 03:56 AM
Jan Rankin Richmond
Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen - Richmond, BC
South Delta Realtor

Kim & Kwee - Thanks!

Edward & Celia - So true. 

Jeff - thanks for your comment. We do leave ourselves open to all kinds of nasty things when we walk into this type of stuff. 


Apr 23, 2011 04:04 AM
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

Definitely a can of worms I will not be opening. Good post Jan.

Apr 23, 2011 04:12 AM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

I get that " What is the racial makeup of the neighborhood" questions more than what I expected. I usually just say " I don't really know and don't really care.", and sometimes tell them they can visit the neighborhood pool, or drive around when the school buses are dropping off kids. There are people here from every country, so Idon't know why people even ask this question. Didn't they see all the different people driving around on their way over to see the house? I think it's just testers that go around asking this question most of the time.

Apr 23, 2011 06:27 AM
Jan Rankin Richmond
Sutton Group Seafair Realty - Richmond, Ladner & Tsawwassen - Richmond, BC
South Delta Realtor

Happy Easter - thanks Randy.

Happy Easter, Jeff. It's a frequent question here as well. Sometimes people want to know the "ethnicity of the people selling".


Apr 24, 2011 06:36 AM