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What's with the house next door??

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty, Westport CT

You pull your car up to the lovely house that you are about to show a buyer.  On paper it's perfect.  It meets all the necessary criteria--number of bedrooms, number of baths, school district, etc.  Then you and your clients scan the neighborhood only to be aghast at the dilapidated house next door (or across the street, or down the road).  That neighbor's house is pitiful.  Sometimes it's more than just neglect or deferred maintenance.  Sometimes it's a junkyard of contents or an abandoned boarded up bank-owned property.  Regardless of what the situation is, it is likely going to kill any potential sale.  Bad for the buyer.  Worse for the seller

Neighborhood blight comes in many forms.  Most town ordinances for controlling blight issues come down to identifying extreme properties that are potentially dangerous for health or safety.  However, there are far many eyesore properties that "fly under the radar" of town ordinances yet severely impact all the surrounding neighbors.  These eyesores are often what makes buyers walk away.  Here's some of the dialog I've heard:  "What's with the house next door?  Is it going to get worse before it gets better?  I can't imagine looking out my window and seeing that!  Nope, I think we need to look at other properties."

Although I am a proponent of being both direct and tactful on addressing problems before a property is put on the market,  I must say this issue has stumped me.  The few times I have worked with a seller on politely asking the other  property to help our real estate marketing efforts, it didn't go so well.  One case was a blank stare--with a "What seems to be the problem?" rebuttal.  The other was met with a defensive and combative exchange.

Sure, we can always get the town involved.  And, I certainly recommend going in that direction when there are potential safety issues.  However, the run of the mill, junkie occupied house in the neighborhood is more prevalent in our everyday business.

Any suggestions on how you would handle this situation when it effects selling your home or your listing?  




Posted by

Nancy Manby  203-856-7069

Serving Lower Fairfield County CT

Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


I try to get some information on the home. For example a few year there was challenging close to my new listing. When I did the research it turned out to be an elderly couple that was slugging to take care of the home. We found a local service group that agreed to freshen up the home for the couple.

Good luck and succes.

Lou Ludwig

Oct 25, 2016 10:43 AM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Congratulations on recieving a feature for your post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Oct 25, 2016 10:45 AM
Nancy Manby

Thank you Lou!

Oct 26, 2016 02:44 AM
Harry F. D'Elia III
WEDO Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I very much enjoyed your post today. We are looking forward to more insightful ones.

Oct 25, 2016 12:41 PM
Cheryl Dukes . . . . . Intown Atlanta
Guaranteed Offer for your Home - eXp realty - Atlanta, GA

Perhaps you can ask your buyer to buy the house next door too, and then they can fix it up the way they want it.

Oct 25, 2016 01:14 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Burlington, MA
Metro Boston Homes For Sale

Nancy Manby - I have represented the buyers where the sale was killed just because of the neighbor's home!

Yes, it can happen!

Oct 25, 2016 03:04 PM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Find a buyer who likes cars up on jacks, the wheels off and with projects all over the yard next door. There's your buyer. Birds of a feather flock together. Definitely don't talk out in the yard about the property you listed highlights with the green acres home behind you in plain view. If the home is not cared for, usually neither are the bank loan payments and the problem goes away in foreclosure. But those houses where the neighbor inherited them free and clear, wait for the third year taxes to scoop it up and rehab for the daughter of the new buyer who will be getting divorced right about then or the mother in law needing digs.

Oct 25, 2016 08:28 PM
Terry McCarley
Coastal Real Estate - Cape Coral FL - Cape Coral, FL

Cape Coral has lots of ordinances to keep the city looking nice but we still have some bank owned homes and abandoned homes out there that seriously hurt the neighborhood

Oct 25, 2016 10:38 PM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

To some, life isn't about having a pristine house and maximizing the value of their house.  They might  have other priorities.  Maybe they use their money to help people who don't have any food to eat.  I wonder if Mother Teresa spent a lot of time keeping her home pristine in order to keep home prices up.

Oct 25, 2016 11:44 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

When I was building/developing, I would offer to paint the house that took away from the project. Other than that, if the city codes allow it, what can you do?

Oct 26, 2016 12:04 AM
Nancy Manby

Certainly when it is simple clean up like keeping the grass mowed, the seller can assist.  Sometimes it's more like the whole house is a wreck.  Ugh!

Oct 26, 2016 02:39 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I had listed a house in what was a higher end 1930's neighborhood close to downtown. Next doo an eccentric had inherited the house and was a recluse and wouldn't answer the door. He had weeds and grass 4 to 5 feet tall in the backyard and the house was falling apart on the outside. We filed a complaint with the city that could have resulted in a daily fine and he did clean it up a bit in the yard. Thsiw as years ago and now it makes me want to drive by and see if he is still there.

Oct 26, 2016 01:02 AM
Nancy Manby

My guess is he reverted back!

Oct 26, 2016 02:37 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Nancy,

The only thing that has ever worked for me is leading by example, but that takes a long time (year +). When neighbors see your pretty flowers or neat new tree, they often ask about it & when you tell them how easy & relatively cheap these improvements are, they often fix up their yards too. 

Oct 26, 2016 01:34 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Sadly, it can take years for these homes to either get repaired or sold.  In the meantime, everyone knows about them and  I think all you can do is point it out and hope for some change.

Oct 26, 2016 03:06 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

This just is not something that matters much in my neck of the woods.  First of all our average lot size is an acre so your "neighbor" is really way over there. And in my market your neighbor doesn't affect your appraisal because we don't have traditional neighborhoods in my rural area.  

Oct 26, 2016 07:14 AM
Nancy Manby

Lucky you.  In my neck of the woods the average lot size is just under a 1/2 acre.  Many streets have sidewalks.

Oct 27, 2016 03:46 AM
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!

Nothing can kill a good sale quicker than a neighbor, and many times it doesn't have to be the run down house. 

1.  Barking dog(s)

2.  Old Car(s)

3.  Toys all over the yard

4.  Screaming kids

5.  Motorcycles

Every buyer has their hot buttons, and we never know when they will find another one!

Oct 26, 2016 08:05 AM
Nancy Manby

Totally agree!

Oct 27, 2016 03:46 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

THis is a tough issue and I've faced it my self as a listing agent. Here in KCMO, you can report violations but the city doesn't enforce the code.  Talking to neighbors..sometimes I can get a clean up but it's usually temporary. 

The title of your blog--I've heard that exact sentence so many times!!

Oct 26, 2016 08:21 AM
John Van Hogen
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Hillsboro, OR
Serving Sellers / Buyers / Investors 503-680-9390

While people often criticize HOAs, they can offer protection from these situations. I recently saw a house painted near-fluorescent acid green with deep black trim. While the property was not run down and the paint was fresh, only a limited pool of buyers will volunteer to live next to such a beacon of color.  

Oct 26, 2016 08:50 AM
Nancy Manby

I agree.  The HOA's absolutely have value in these circumstances.

Oct 27, 2016 03:48 AM
Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Great observations!!!

There are far many eyesore properties that "fly under the radar" of town ordinances yet severely impact all the surrounding neighbors.  These eyesores are often what makes buyers walk away

Oct 26, 2016 09:30 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

There are so many neighbor issues that can impact a sale, and unless there's an HOA or city ordinances that allow intervention there may not be much that can be done. It definitely can kill a sale unless the price is really right ! And change can take a long time, or might not happen at all.


Oct 27, 2016 12:45 PM
Donna & Larry Johnson
Keller Williams Real Estate - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County

Their is always that one house in the neighborhood that can kill a deal. Doing some investigation first so you have the answers is always a good idea!

Oct 28, 2016 02:03 AM
Sana Solanki
Kingsway Real Estate - Brampton, ON

Loved reading your post, congratulations on the feature.

Oct 29, 2016 09:30 PM