When Selling a Home, the Neighbors Matter

Few sellers consider their neighbor’s home when preparing to sell their own. Why would they? Their biggest concern is getting the soon-to-be-listed home painted, cleaned, landscaped and sporting great curb appeal.

But all that effort could be for nothing, if just one of your neighbors doesn’t care much for appearances.

Imagine that you’ve spent time and energy weeding the front yard, painting the front door, power-washing your siding and planting flowers. You’ve updated the kitchen and bathrooms and de-cluttered the home. You’re ready to go to market.

And then, when you step across the street to look at your home, all that stands out are the beat-up cars in your neighbor’s driveway, the torn-up lawn, the barking dogs, and the overall negative curb appeal (or in this case, “curb unappealing”).

If you find the neighbor’s home unappealing, imagine your potential buyer’s first impression. The fact is, your neighbor’s unsightly property can diminish your own house’s curb appeal, no matter how much you’ve done to improve it.

The good news is, you have options – you’ll just have to plan ahead a bit. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your neighbors don’t cost you money when you sell your home.

Build good relationships

Even if you don’t have a plan to sell now, it’s good practice to maintain a friendly relationship with the neighbors. You never know when you’ll need them.

It’s not uncommon for issues to come up during a sale. Problems regarding fence repair, retaining walls or easements can often bring a neighbor into your home sale process.

Having a good relationship with your neighbor from the beginning will help to ensure their cooperation when you need them at a critical time in the home sale.

Keep them in the loop

If you plan to sell your home in the near future, it’s a good idea to give the neighbors a heads-up well in advance.

You may have the occasional nosy neighbor, but also people simply like to be “in the know.”

If you think you’ll need assistance from a neighbor for whatever reason, it will be easier to approach them if you’ve given them notice. Knocking on their door to tell them you’re selling and then requesting their cooperation right away won’t help.

Offer to pay for improvements

It will be difficult to ask your neighbors to reseed their lawn, pull their weeds, change their fence or paint their door to help your sale. Ask them to pay for it, and you can expect resistance.

If you need your neighbor to do some curb appeal work to help your sale, the money should come out of your pocket.

On top of that, you can’t force the neighbor to use your landscaper, painter or contractor, even if you’re paying for it. It’s their home, not yours, and you need to tread lightly.

Although many neighbors will appreciate the offer to spruce up their home on your dime, others may be hesitant. Bullying them to work on your timeframe or within your rules won’t help, and it could backfire once your home lists publicly.

With luck, a home sale can proceed smoothly without the need to involve neighbors. But if you hope to sell in the future, understand that your neighbors’ cooperation may be necessary.

If you plan in advance, open the doors of communication and offer to make things easy, you’re more likely to get what you want.

Ready to put your home on the market? Check out our Home Sellers Guide for tips and resources.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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