Every man may be an island, but every home? Think again! Home appraisers are trained to factor in surrounding conditions when appraising a home; their eyes wander far beyond the property lines. In a recent New York Times article, Richard L Borges II, the president of the Appraisal Institute, noted that neighboring nuisances like overgrown landscaping or persistent odors may bring down the value of adjacent homes by 5 to 10 percent!
As a real estate professional, you probably know that neighboring properties can affect a home’s market value, but there’s a good chance that your clients do not. Providing sellers with this information – and the opportunity to address any problems before putting their home on the market – is a valuable service.
What You Can Do
If you identify nearby factors that may affect a listing’s value, let your clients know that they are not powerless in this situation. There are many actions home sellers can take to try to erase or counteract the negative affect of problem neighbors. With potentially thousands of dollars on the line, we think these tips are worth a shot!
Let’s start with the easiest way to get anything done – just ask! If it’s something simple on a neighbor’s property (and your seller is on good terms with them), suggest that your clients visit to explain that they are looking to sell their house and would really love it if the yard could be mowed, the trash from last weekend’s party removed, the dogs kept inside more often etc… Bringing over a plate of cookies never hurts!
Volunteer Your Help
It’s possible that the owner or tenant of the problem property is aware of the situation, but is unable to do anything about it. They might be dealing with an illness or financial problems or something else entirely. If your seller is willing to volunteer their services – whether it’s painting a garage door or removing large debris – it could end up benefiting both parties. The neighbors will get that little boost they need, and your sellers will know they did what they could to increase their appraisal.
Involve the Neighborhood
Unless your listing is on a very, very small cul-de-sac, problem properties are likely to be bugging other nearby neighbors, too. Involving the neighborhood is a great way to enlist help to tackle bigger projects (see Volunteer Your Help, above).
Increase Curb Appeal Strategically
Of course, sometimes nothing can be done. Maybe the “problem neighbor” is actually an abandoned or bank-owned property. Even if you can find someone to take responsibility for it, progress may be a long time coming, and your clients want to sell now! In that case, try going above and beyond basic curb appeal by implementing strategic changes. Plant hedges to block views that are less than scenic. Create focal points on your property that direct potential buyers away from problem areas. Is something funky happening near the front of the house? Stage an attractive outdoor living space in the backyard, instead.
Look for Violations
If you are faced with a truly problematic problem neighbor, there is a worst case scenario: look for zoning or HOA violations. Local authorities or an association management organization may be able to step in and succeed where others cannot.
It’s true that some problem neighbors can’t be helped. If your listing is located next to a power plant or funeral home, there’s very little you can do to boost the appraisal. But in property maintenance situations, there are definite steps sellers can take to improve the situation – and ultimately their homes’ value. Feel free to print this list out to share with your clients.
Have you ever helped a seller deal with a problem neighbor? Tell us what you did!