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What's Under the Roof . . . ?

Industry Observer with RETIRED / State License is Inactive Inactive License Oregon

Image result for judge not lest ye be judgedFrom time-to-time I'll read a post and it will make me think a little deeper.  I read this post today "What's with the house next door?" and it got me re-thinking the precept.

First, when a prospective buyer views a home on paper, it does not, can not and will not -- ever -- be a tactile review of the property, in the flesh.   As an Exclusive Buyers Agent, I call this:  JOB SECURITY.

As pointed out in the above-referenced post, the property seemed great on paper.  But, that house next door . . . is killing my deal!

I've showen many properties that have had  these "houses next door."  WE CAN SEE IT, my clients and I. 

I try to ground myself in the following reality:

The house next door has a someone living in it.  A PERSON.

The house is not in disarray to ruin my deal!  

The house is not in disrepair to hinder my life, or cause my client any grief.

We have come to be a nation of whiners who take everything personally, and a direct affront if, GOD FORBIDE, the person, place or thing isn't a mirror-image of our reality.

Let's Look Under the Roof

The house is in disrepair . . . more than likely . . . because there is A PERSON living there that may have some hardships.  

Many of the homes I see in my local area that are in need of some TLC are owned by ELDERLY PEOPLE who are on a very fixed income and can't take care of the home.  The deferred maintenance . . . that can not be deferred any longer.

The paint is the color of oyster puke, and that's because that was the trend (fad, rage) 30 years ago ...

The lawn is un-mowed . . . and so is the roof!   That's because the owner broke their hip, and can't manage the lawn, or can't afford the costs of roof maintenance.  

There are cars parked . . . and it's a junkyard . . . and that might be a sign of the PERSON'S mental health issue.  I've been to a few HOARDER houses.   I feel sorry for the owners.  They obviously can't see their accumulations, which have become obsessive.

DING DONG . . . It's Not Avon Calling

"Hey, why don't you REPAINT . . . "

If someone came on to my property, without invitation, to bitch and moan about the condition, why would it surprise anyone that I -- the PERSON living in the home -- becomes defensive?!?

My home is not meeting your expectations?!?  Boo hoo hoo

See, here's the thing about human nature . . . you can't go into soverign areas and complain.


" When I was suffering with my medical abuse issues, my home went to seed.  Things didn't get done.  I wasn't prepared to have an othropedic surgeon butcher me.  Society did nothing for me.  By the Grace of God . . . I survived!


In your travels through life as a real estate agent, and you see a home which is in need of some TENDER LOVING CARE . . . think about this:

  • The PERSON living in that home may need all kinds of help.
  • The PERSON living in that home may need financial assistance.
  • The PERSON living in that home may have some mental health issues.
  • The PERSON living in that home may have some life altering events.
  • The PERSON living in that home may be suffering with addictions.
  • The PERSON living in that home may be on a very fixed income 
  • The PERSON living in that home may be isolated
  • The PERSON living in that home may be on pscyhotropic medications 

If. . . the only thing that society brings to their front door is a pushy real estate agent bitching about the condition of their property, because it's messing up their deal . . . what does human nature predict will happen?  The PERSON living in the home will welcome the bitch and moan about their property's condition . . . or, get a tad defensive?!?

OFFER TO HELP.  I've called listing agents to ask about the "house next door" -- is it a rental?  Does the owner know the condition of the property?  Is the owner living there?  Is the owner elderly?  Do they need some help?  Is there an outreach program in your city to help?   Is there a CHURCH in the area that can help the person?  A little coat of paint can go a long way . . . AND make an elderly person feel better.  Organize a school to help?  Get a youth program to volunteer to help in neighborhood clean-up projects.  The list can go on and on.

For every home that is in disrepair . . . for every city suffering blight . . . I can assure you, it's not done to ruin your sale, or to make your clients turn their nose up in disgust.  

It's because of circumstances . . .

which we are not privvy to unless we look under the roof

Posted by



Carla Muss-Jacobs has RETIRED effective May 1, 2018

Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner ~~ INACTIVE

Carla Muss-Jacobs' retirement became effective May 1, 2018

Direct: 503-810-7192 


All Rights Reserved © 

Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Well said Carla. People have issues and problems and there is far more going on there than meets the eye. Unfortunately it does hurt the listed home sitting next to it. That's the reality. Your suggestion to get more information and try to help is something most agents wouldn't think of.

 The neighbor with the unsightly house may be a lazy loser, but odds are that they are more likely as you describe....elderly or in physical or financial hardship. Something to think about! 

Oct 26, 2016 07:04 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Sharon Tara I think when people age out, and their families, if they have them near, do help.  But I see more and more of the families circle at the very end.  Pity. Thanks for your comment!!

Oct 27, 2016 04:06 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

There is certainly a lot to be said about walking a mile in those shoes.  In my life I have too have had struggles and it makes me much more aware when seeing the world through experienced eyes.

Oct 26, 2016 07:09 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Tammy Lankford, thanks for your comment.


Oct 27, 2016 04:07 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

I suspect seniors are even more challenged with home maintenance the last few years.  They haven't had a social security increase in two years, and this coming year it has been announced the increase will be 3/10ths of 1%.  That's an average of about $5.00 a month per retiree.  I like the idea of neighbors offering to help!

Oct 26, 2016 11:54 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Myrl Jeffcoat and since, statistically, females live longer than males, it's an eldering woman.  There is plenty to do in this place we call home to stay positive and help.  

Oct 27, 2016 04:08 AM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I love the post. Thank you for sharing. I hope others will read it too. 

Oct 26, 2016 09:53 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Gita Bantwal thanks for the love!!  

Oct 27, 2016 04:09 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Love this perspective.  You never know what is happening in someone else's life that lead to that disrepair.

Oct 27, 2016 11:29 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Featured in the group:  BARTENDER, MAKE IT A DOUBLE.

Oct 27, 2016 11:31 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

My husband and osn-in-law bought a flip house and while doing the repairs began to notice the house next door with a hole in the roof. Trash and debris filled the backyard. The kid that lived there was on drugs. My son-in-law reached out to the kid, offered to pay him if he would pick up the backyard trash and keep an eye on the flip house. Then he asked about the hle in the roof and the kid said his parents were disabled and had no money to fix it. My son-in-law went next door and met the parents and asked if he could have his roofing contractor fix the roof for them. They agreed and thanked him.

He was able to resell the flip house, keep it safe while on the market because of the kid that was watching it and helped the neighbor's property look better. It was a Win-Win.

Oct 27, 2016 12:52 PM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Great post, Carla. And totally agree, no one knows what is going on under the roop of the neighbor's house.

Nov 02, 2016 07:11 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 ,

Loved your post..well said! I'm with Chris Ann Cleland "You never know what is happening in someone else's life that lead to that disrepair!"

Nov 02, 2016 10:04 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Yes, exactly!

Nov 02, 2016 10:54 AM
Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Tampa, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Tampa Home Buyers

What I love most about this blog is your point of view...a side that shows compassion.

I live next door to a semi-horder.  Really nice widower that can't seem to throw anything out...he stores it in his driveway and side of yard. This is not something that could just be cleaned up...you would need 3 "got junk?" trucks. 

It would be a real eyesore, but we have decided to let the hedge grow to 10 feet and hide his junkyard.  One of these days when he moves, our hedge will go too.


Nov 19, 2016 01:43 AM