Lori Davis was concerned when a promotion meant she had to relocate to another state. While her Charlotte, N.C., home was in pristine condition, she was afraid that, without her help, her neighbors' distressed property was going to affect her ability to sell.
Her neighbors seemed nice enough. But they did not do regular maintenance on their home, and it had become an eyesore. New York City real estate queen Barbara Corcoran
, now an expert for NBC's Today Show
, recently outraged television
viewers when she advised a person in a similar situation to simply shoot the neighbor
Corcoran went a little overboard, but home sellers have good reason to be frustrated.
According to a study done by Servicemaster.com
, 63 percent of respondents said that they live near a home that wasn't properly maintained. Some 21 percent of respondents said it was their own home that was not maintained properly. The reasons for a neglected home vary: Some
homeowners don't have time to do the maintenance, some don't have the money to do it, and some just don't care. Here are three ways to handle the situation:
1. Meet with the homeowner in a non-confrontational manner.
Rather than say, "Make your home look better so I can sell mine," bring a list of specific things that you would like taken care of. Offer to help them accomplish these things, or offer a gift or incentive to them if they do it.
2. Organize a "Neighborhood Clean-up Day."
Chances are, there are other residents who are also displeased with your eyesore next door and would be happy to lend a hand. Rent
a dumpster, send out invitations to all the neighbors, and have everyone pitch in to beautify the neighborhood. This method accomplishes the goal of improving the neighborhood's appearance, without singling out and alienating the offending person. This is also a great option if there is more than one home in need of help. The cost of the dumpster, beverages, and snacks will surely be recouped by a higher sales price for your home.
3. Take photos of your neighbors property and bring them to your local municipality's code enforcement department.
There are nuisance laws to protect people from noise, standing water, and lack of maintenance. Unkempt properties can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes which can carry the West Nile Virus , and tall grass and junk in yards increases your risk to rats, mice, and snakes. The enforcement officer can give a citation ordering your neighbor to clean up the property or face fines.
Do your best to keep communication
with your neighbor amicable. Lori spent two weekends helping her neighbor clean up their yard and repaint their trim, but felt it was a worthwhile investment considering the risk of decreased property value
due to her neighbor's lack of care. Even if you don't have success with improving your neighbor's home, you may still find a buyer willing to overlook the mess and put up privacy fencing.
Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. You can follow her on Twitter @thedesigndiva.
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