Help My Neighbours Dilapitdated Home is Killing my Sale

I was chatting to a guy I met at a networking event the other day and he was bemoaning the fact that his house had been on the market for over six months without any viewings or interest. This was despite the property being sensibly priced, having a large number of rooms and being well presented. He confided that he thought the main cause might be the dilapidated state of his neighbours’ properties.

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He was right to be worried. Prospective buyers are not just interested in the property they want to buy.  They also take into consideration the neighbourhood crime figures, what are the schools like but they will be especially interested in what their prospective immediate neighbours will be like. The questions going through their heads might be along the lines of are the neighbours quiet, noisy, nosy, do they like to party until all hours at the weekend, do they have loud quarrels, do they have flaky paintwork and neglected homes, old cars rusting on their front lawn? In order to check these questions out they will hopefully have already taken the trouble to research the area on one of the many property websites either Houseladder, Zoopla or Rightmove for instance for answers to crime levels, schools and entertainment. But to ensure that they really know what their new neighbours are like, then the wisest buyers will have already cased the jointas it were and walked along the road at various times during the day and night.

As it happened the neighbours on both sides of my acquaintance’ property were elderly, their homes were showing evidence of what estate agents like to call ageism! There were safety rails attached to the outside walls to enable easy use of the steps up to the front door. The paintwork on the window frames, sills and door was flaking and the gardens overflowing with weeds.

The state of neighbouring properties can, and do, block sales. Buyers don’t know the owners circumstances. They won’t know if their prospective new neighbours are elderly, single parents or maybe young in full time work and time-poor.  Many prospective buyers are likely to assume it’s a case of ‘can’t be bothered and neglect’ worse, it is a sign of possible difficult neighbours. With that in mind those buyers will simply not even bother to get out of the car to look at the vendors property.

Although this can be a difficult problem to overcome in most cases it’s not insurmountable – it just needs to be tackled thoughtfully and with great tact. The majority of home sellers know their neighbours well and are on friendly terms with them. By approaching the problem with lots of tact and diplomacy it is possible to come to an arrangement acceptable to all without causing upset and possible rift between the different households.

For instance on this occasion I suggested calling on each of the elderly neighbours and saying something along lines of:

“As you know my wife and I are now moving on and we would like to thank you for being such lovely neighbours over the past X number of years. As a parting gift we would like to give you some bedding plants. We would like to plant them for you and we could also mow your front lawn/weed your front garden at the same time?”  By using colourful flowering plants and tidying the garden you are taking the eye away from some of the problem paintwork, which can then be explained away to prospective buyers by mentioning the elderly residents health was limiting their ability to get the work done at the moment, and the tidier kerb appeal shows that some care has been taken of the property. Couched in such polite terms elderly neighbours are more likely to say, “Yes please!” Where the neighbours are younger or in full-time work or maybe single parents it is highly probable they are time-poor and again a sympathetic, tactful approach will work wonders.

How much nicer, positive and productive the tactful approach can be rather than an aggressive growl of “The state of your house is putting off my buyers!” definitely a case of a soft word and smile achieving more than hard words and a frown.

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