, Newburyport, MA

Real Estate News

October 4, 2011

Neighbors Can Make or Break a Home Sale

- — Are you on good terms with your neighbors? If you aren’t, you might want to mend those fences before listing your home for sale.

A client of mine didn’t get along with his neighbor, for reasons having nothing to do with real estate. Their dispute grew personal, and the neighbor had already shown his nasty side. But that was nothing compared to what happened during my client’s first open house.

The neighbor had invited ten friends over that afternoon — and their dogs. Throughout the open house, the neighbor and his friends sat in the front yard, kicking back beer and blasting rock music. The dogs ran wild around the neighbor’s yard and had a blast digging up the grass in my client’s yard.

This is the scene that prospective buyers witnessed as they arrived for the open house — not exactly the impression the seller wanted to make. Several buyers later said they loved the house based on pictures they’d seen online, but they took one look at the chaos that afternoon and kept driving.

I’ve heard a few similar "nasty neighbor" stories from other agents, too. For instance, a disgruntled neighbor sends the listing agent or seller a certified letter just as the sale is about to close. The letter complains about property line disputes, trees that block views, or other bogus issues. The seller is required to disclose these complaints to the prospective buyer, whether the issue is valid or not. Unfortunately, this last-minute disclosure sometimes gives buyers cold feet.

Today’s market is tough enough. So before listing your property, try to settle any lingering disputes and keep your neighbors on your side — no matter how much they bother you.

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and real estate expert based in San Francisco and New York. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog, has collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets.

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