How to sell your home if you have bad neighbours
So, the time has come to sell your home and move on. There is only one problem – ‘bad’ neighbours. We have all heard the nightmare tales of bad neighbours, and these problematic people next door are definitely not a selling point when it comes to marketing your home – in fact, having bad neighbours can negatively affect the value of your property.
There are different kinds of bad neighbours: neighbours who are simply very nosy and don’t respect your privacy, neighbours who neglect their property and garden maintenance, noisy neighbours, rude neighbours, neighbours involved in illegal activities, and so forth.
Each kind of bad or problematic neighbour can affect the sale of your property in different ways. The nosy neighbour might corner potential buyers and interrogate them, or give them way more information than necessary – they might even show up to an open house to have a look around your home. If your neighbour has been neglecting their property maintenance, the rundown condition of their home and garden might create a negative impression with buyers, no matter how pristine your own home and garden are. Noisy neighbours can scare potential buyers away – who wants to live in constant noise and disturbance? Rude or needlessly aggressive neighbours can very quickly sour a potential buyer’s impression – nobody wants to feel like they will constantly be dealing with a rude person in their everyday vicinity. If your neighbour is involved in any illegal activities, this will, of course, deter potential buyers from considering your home.
Unfortunately, you can’t change the fact that you have problematic neighbours, but you still want to sell your home, and at a reasonable price.
So, what can you do? What are your rights as the seller? Working with a licensed and qualified real estate agent is still the best way to sell your home in the shortest timeframe and achieve the highest price. An experienced real estate agent will also have dealt with difficult neighbours before, and will be able to help you navigate this difficult situation. The agent could even act as an impartial middleperson for you and the difficult neighbour, which could already ease tensions.
What should you disclose to potential buyers?
Depending on the state or territory you live in, there are various aspects and factors that, by law, you need to disclose to buyers during a property sale. These usually relate to defects, potential hazards, building regulations, etcetera – things that might affect a buyer’s decision about buying the property.
So, what should you disclose to potential buyers concerning nuisance neighbours? In a nutshell, the answer is ‘nothing’. When it comes to property sales, the onus rests on the buyer to perform due diligence concerning the home they are interested in buying.
However, if a buyer asks you outright if you have problematic neighbours, you have to be honest – otherwise you are misrepresenting the property. If you do this, the buyer can take legal action against you down the line when the truth comes to light.
Also, you don’t always need to disclose the information for buyers to glean that your neighbours might be problematic – they will be able to spot the neglected home next door, or hear the noisy neighbour, should they be disruptive during home viewings.
Again, a licensed and experienced real estate agent will be able to help you navigate just how much to share with potential buyers, and what you can do regarding the neighbours to try and make the best of the situation.
Here are some ways you can try to resolve the bad neighbour situation before or during the process of marketing and selling your home.
Try to talk to the neighbours to find a mutually-beneficial solution
Your first step towards dealing with difficult neighbours should be to approach them in an open and non-confrontational manner. Explain to them that you are planning on selling the house, and would appreciate their co-operation. Do not start the conversation with accusations, but rather focus on the positives and try to find a mutual footing. Here are some guidelines to dealing with specific kinds of bad neighbours:
- The nosy neighbour
Approach this neighbour with the news that you are selling your home. Keep the conversation light and friendly. Explain to the neighbour that you appreciate their interest in the happenings of the neighbourhood, but that you would prefer that your real estate agent relate all information to potential buyers for practical and legal reasons. If you promise that you will keep them in the loop with regards to any developments during the selling process, the nosy neighbour might be very happy to take a step back.
- The neglectful neighbour
Start the conversation with this neighbour by informing them of your intention to sell your home. In a respectful and tactful manner, raise your concerns regarding the state of their home and garden, and how it might impact potential buyers. You never know, your neighbour might be dealing with personal issues or have fallen on hard times, and the neglect of their property is not intentional. In these instances, they may welcome your suggestions or help – you could offer to cut the grass, trim the trees, apply a new coat of paint, etcetera. This will be a slight expense compared to how it will affect the value of your own home, and you might just be helping your neighbour out of a difficult situation.
- The noisy neighbour
Do not be confrontational when approaching this neighbour. A good way to start the conversation is to ask the neighbour if any of your behaviours or habits disturb their peace and quiet. If they answer in the affirmative, you could discuss a compromise. Explain that you are planning to sell your home. Ask them if they would mind keeping barking dogs indoors or keep disruptive noises to a minimum during viewings. You can give them advance notice of when viewings will take place.
- The rude neighbour
You should approach this neighbour with caution – make sure they understand that you are not looking for an argument, but just want to start a conversation. Ask the neighbour if they have a problem with you, or whether you have done anything to offend them – and don’t get angry at the answer. Maybe you did something unknowingly at some stage that rubbed the neighbour the wrong way. If this is the case, take the high road and apologise, or offer to change behaviours that the neighbour finds annoying or offensive. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but keep your eye on the prize – if all goes well, the neighbour won’t be your problem for much longer.
- The neighbour involved in illegal activities
If your neighbour is involved in illegal activities, it might be in your best interest to not approach them, but rather report them to the appropriate authorities.
Go to your strata or body corporate management if you have one
If you live in a strata titled property, you can go to the property’s management to air your concerns. There will be codes or guidelines of conduct all residents need to adhere to. If your neighbour is not adhering to these, the management will have to intervene to ensure the rules or codes of conduct are upheld.
Raise your concerns to the city or district
Each town or district will have bylaws governing the residents that live there. If your neighbour’s behaviour does not adhere to the bylaws, you can report them to the city or district, through the appropriate channels. This might not be pleasant, but if your hands are tied, you have no choice. The bylaws can relate to acceptable noise levels, what is allowed to be done on the property, etcetera.
Get a lawyer, if absolutely necessary
If you have tried all the avenues to try and resolve the issues with your neighbours, but nothing has worked, you could be left with no alternative but to take legal action. Approach a lawyer to find out what your rights are. A lawyer will be able to advise you as to which legal avenues are available to you. The lawyer might recommend arbitration or legal action, depending on your situation. This can obviously be a tedious and costly process, and arbitration might be your best option.
Selling your home can be a trying situation, even without the hassle of bad neighbours to further complicate the situation. Your best bet is to work with a licensed and experienced real estate agent who will be able to help you navigate this potentially disastrous situation.
Are you trying to sell your home, but the neighbours have you worried? Perfect Agent can help you find a top-performing agent to manage this tricky situation. Simply fill out a quick online survey, and our team will get back to you within 48 hours with quotes from two to three licensed, top-performing real estate agents in your area – at no cost to you. Contact Perfect Agent today.