Strategies for selling your home when your neighbor is preventing it.

This has been on my mind for a long time. I have never felt so bad for a homeowner than one in my neighborhood. In my opinion, they are being held hostage by an home that you have to drive by in order to see the subject home for sale. They share a common driveway. The subject home (a great property and excellent home) for sale is just beyond the eyesore with multiple cars parked in its driveway and yard, never mind the fact that the physical condition is very poor. If I was a buyer, I would not want to drive by this place to get to my new home.

I don’t have the answers, but maybe some creative agents can suggest some ideas. One idea I had was that the subject home for sale could possibly create a driveway that connects to the adjacent main street. This would be expensive, but the alternative is no sale.

48 thoughts on “Strategies for selling your home when your neighbor is preventing it.

  1. Ryan,

    Hope I don’t land on that site, LOL.

    My sense is that going forward with a purchase, buyers need to take in consideration the probability of a future sale or exit strategy. In other words, what is it about my property or those next door neighbors that would make a future sale difficult.

  2. What kind of tact would be required if you approached the neighbor responsible and asked them to be mindful of their surroundings? If the neighbor became offended, they could retaliate further just in spite.

    I would enjoy reading any agent’s stories about this. Have any agents gone as far as bribery?

  3. In Seattle, there is a city code provision limiting the number cars that can be parked on a lot. You might contact the local authorities to see if a similar code provision exists and if they enforce it.

    Another consideration would be to enter a deal with the neighbor. Offer to pay them a certain amount to clean up their yard / driveway. They could use the money to defray costs of moving / storing the cars. Even if they don’t accept the offer, it might shame them into doing something to improve the situation.

    The deal could be structured so that they get paid out of closing.

  4. I think Ryan’s suggestion has merit. If the neighborhood eyesore is causing $20,000+ of lost potential value, I would seriously consider offering to clean up the landscape and even possibly paint it, as well as asking very nicely if they could keep their cars out of the way.

    Is the neighbor’s house a major motive to sell? If he hates looking at his neighbor’s house, most buyers will too!

    Good luck –

  5. Tim, you are correct in that the neighbor’s property is hindering the sale.

    I have hired a landscaper (my dime) to mow, trim, bark and weed a neighbor’s property to sell a listing. After we got the property cleaned up, the neighbor (who was very nice by the way…….she just had different landscaping values) did a nice job maintaining her yard.

    I know of another agent who had the front of a neighbor’s house painted.

    Fortunately I didn’t have to deal with the car issue.

  6. Greg,

    You paid for a neighbors yard to be cleaned up? First class service, Greg. Now that is value.

    That reminds me of one of our first real estate sales with Lynlee way back in time. The buyer (in tears) of our listing walked into our office while I was on floor duty very upset (for good reason) because our seller didn’t move. Very long story short, we rented a U-Haul and spent all day and evening moving our client. Then about 1am in the morning after we were through, we get a phone call from our seller to come to the Northgate SPD precinct to pick the seller up after they released our seller (decided to drive after we tried talking our seller out of it, unfortunately) for alleged DUI and hitting another motorist. I think our commission at the time was like $1,200 or so. I think we probably got home around 2:30 am.

  7. In Los Altos,California there are blight ordinances in place that force a homeowner to clean up their yard or the city will do it and bill the homeowner. A neighbor of mine was the main offender and the reasoning behind the ordinance. She had weeds 6 feet tall and rats running through the property. One could barely see the home from the street. It was vacant for 9 years. After she died the daughter sold it “as-is” for almost a million dollars. Thank God the daughter had some sense.

  8. I would first try to talk with the subjects and explain the importance of selling the house.

    Are there any city or neighborhood ordinances to protect the subjects from this type of neighbor?

  9. Tim, that is a terrible dilemma for the sellers.

    Those are all good solutions as a temporary fix for getting the house sold, but what about when the buyer moves in and finds out the normal state of affairs for the neighboring house? They may feel that they were deliberately mislead as to the condition of the nieghboring home…that could be an issue.

    Elizabeth Rhodes in the Seattle Times last Sunday had a similar question posted on her Home Forum:

    She offered similar solutions and also a link to Resolution Washington:
    as a possible way to work it out with the neighbor with help.

    I hope your neighbor is able to workout a solution.

  10. The only solution to this issue is buy in an area with a strong and active homeowner association. That’s what we did after going through a similar situation (shared driveway and all).

  11. Check and see if the local Police Dept has mediators. Many cities do have trained volunteer mediators who will try to facilitate a resolution. We have it in Hillsboro…and the service is free to residents. We mediate all kinds of neighbor conflicts.

  12. We’ll in Snohomish Co. they are apparently cracking down on neighbors and or landlords with tennants that are storing vehicles, trash etc..

    I recently read in the Everett Herald about a recent action where it took police and officials years to evict an owner (I think).

  13. Rhonda, you’re right a HOA doesn’t help the buyer’s current situation. But it sure makes them feel better when they can finally move. I’m speaking from personal experience here! (We waited out the bad neighbor.)

  14. My brother-in-law had a neighbor like this. The summer he was sellling his home, he would mow, fertilize and weed the neighbor’s yard. He had a nice talk with the neighbor and the neighbor cleaned up a few car pieces etc… and tried to do a better job. I think if you are willing to help them clean it up, not just threaten to call the authorities, most people are reasonable. Most is the operative word though! If not the sellers may need to get nasty, and that is never fun.
    Hope it all works out! Your neighbor’s home really does effect the sale of your home.

  15. I think the best answer will depend upon one critical issue: are the neighbors decent people or the “neighbors from hell?” Having litigated many disputes with the “neighbor from hell,” I learned that you don’t negotiate with such people. Give them an inch, and they’ll want a foot. Give them a foot, and they’ll want six feet. Ask them to clean up their mess, and you’ll get a sarcastic and negative response of some kind. But, and this is a big but, if they are reasonable, although messy, they would accept cash to clean up. Cash is king, right? So you get it sold, but is the solution permanent. Not. People don’t change, except

  16. I would contact the city and see what type of ordinances there are regarding yard upkeep and number cars in the driveway. We just forced a neighbor to mow his jungle by getting the city to send a letter of code violation. I would also take some photos in case the city workers need some proof.

  17. We helped a client that had this problem last year with first approaching the offending neighbor. While the guy was nice, he would just tell us what we wanted to hear and then not do anything. I ended up paying for a few yard clean ups, my clients and I picked up garbage in the area in front of their fenced front yard (his 5 boys would leave trash everywhere) and we eventually got a broken down car towed away. This was done by me getting a bunch of the neighbors to do a massive call in effort to the local city police, plus me calling and expressing concern that the derelict car would bring crime into the neighborhood – and this was at a time that vacant houses for sale were being broken into and having appliances stolen.

    Our clients loved us for it and it helped them “save face” by not having to go head to head with the neighbor on their own. The neighborhood called this guy and his house “the pig house” since so much garbage was accumulating in the back yard and some out front. One neighbor was planting a hedge to block their view of it. I’m sorry, but if you’ve got 5 sons, you can all do some yard work.

  18. Pingback: Go Ahead, Make My Day | Seattle Real Estate | Rain City Guide

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