• Selling a House: Most Common Neighbor Problems & Their Solutions

    Selling a House: Most Common Neighbor Problems & Their Solutions

    Selling a house is a monumental task. One might say it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do if this is your first time. From buyers losing their mortgage deal to an underlying lien on your house – it’s almost impossible to do everything right and plan for all the surprises.

    On top of this, there are issues that you foresee in the beginning, but you just can’t do anything about them – the annoying neighbor problems. I have been buying and selling real estate in Atlanta, Georgia, for almost twenty-plus years now. I can tell you with absolute certainty that having problematic neighbors is one of the worst nightmares for some of my clients.

    Some neighbors don’t know their boundaries, while others are a bit too involved in their world to notice how they affect property values. So, how do you sell?

    Selling a house with a neighbor problem is possible, albeit challenging, and legal action is not always the right answer. You could sell your house at top dollar if you deal with the situation diplomatically and know the appropriate solution for each neighbor problem.
    Frankly speaking, it’s not rocket science. You just need to know all the common problems and their solutions if you’re going to resolve your disputes for good.

    A serious neighbor problem can drastically affect the sale of your house – it could either break the deal entirely or devalue the property value atleast. These issues can lower the value upto 5-10%, according to a study by AppraisalInstitute.org.

    1. Ones who cross the property Line
      Sometimes your neighbor will intentionally or unintentionally trespass on your property. Maybe they’re building a shed or expanding their garage, and it won’t matter if you don’t mind it right now because the buyer will.

    You should immediately talk to your neighbor if you catch them encroaching your property line. Also, contact a good lawyer for advice if the neighbor disagrees.

    1. Dangerous neighbors
      Now, this is the worst kind. You could endanger your own well-being if your neighbor is verbally or physically abusive or dangerous in some other way. It might not be a good idea to talk to them directly in these cases.

    You must let the buyer know if the issue isn’t resolved till the sale because it’s a matter of the buyer’s and their family’s safety. Ideally, you should contact a lawyer and get law enforcement to resolve the issue while you stay anonymous.

    1. Noisy neighbors & Problem Animals
      The problem animals are usually pets or stray cats and dogs. If it’s an issue of strays making noises or forming packs, call animal control and have them resolve the issue.

    But if the issue is a neighbor or their pet, you should talk to them and explain how this affects your sale. You might get them to “lower the volume” or control their pet atleast until the sale finishes smoothly.

    You can contact local cops in these situations if they don’t listen – every state has laws about loud music and other sorts of noise pollution.

    1. The “I want your house” neighbor
      There are rare situations when a neighbor wants to expand their property, so they try to poach adjacent houses by sabotaging their house sale.

    If this happens to you, just try cutting a deal with them. Sell your house if the price is right; you’re moving away from this neighbor anyway. Although you should call the police or consult someone if this leads to harassment.

    1. Overgrown lawn
      Buyers take the front lawn very seriously during the sale for obvious reasons. And, this doesn’t stop at your lawn, but it includes your neighbor’s lawns too. Tall and uncut grass will push many buyers away.

    Many counties have laws about grass and debris, so you could contact the authorities and demand a clean-up job. If there are no such laws, it’s in your best interest to talk to your neighbor and even help them get the lawn clean.

    Pay for professional services if you have to; this could save you thousands of dollars on the sale.

    1. The Junk Collectors
      You might end up with a neighbor who likes to collect stuff regardless of how distasteful and tacky it is. I call those “The Junk Collectors.” While this is not your problem if the junk is kept in the backyard or within the house, it could become an issue if it stays on the lawn or in the driveway (junk cars).

    Get in touch with them to see what can be done; you could always offer a storage unit or a cheap lawn shed to clear those eyesores. But if they disagree, various states have laws against such specific cases.

    1. Foreclosures
      Foreclosure technically doesn’t fall in the “problematic neighbor” niche, but it will affect the sale of your house. The upside of this situation is that a bank owns these properties, and if you inform them about the worn-down condition of the house, they’ll resolve the issue almost immediately.

    In conclusion, the idea is to resolve the issue as efficiently as possible. I don’t wanna sound too political, but diplomacy is the key here.

    Do I HAVE to disclose problematic neighbors during the sale?
    Short answer? Yesn’t.

    Many sellers hesitate about disclosing their problematic neighbors to a full extent because it might jeopardize the sale of their house. While the concerns are quite understandable, you must not do it.

    Sellers are legally required to disclose problematic, sabotaging, and trespassing neighbors to buyers during the house sale. They must also put this information in their Purchase Information Form because buyers can sue their sellers for hiding information.

    If you have any issues with your neighbors, your first course of action should be to inform your realtor, lawyer, or whoever is managing your deal. Any professional worth their money would know how to deal with such situations delicately and put out the fire before any harm.

    Yes, your lawyer can counter-argue that “the buyer hired their own surveyors and inspectors and was completely satisfied with the situation of the house during sale.” But it won’t always work, and a lawsuit over your house sale isn’t something you should be planning for right now. Check the laws of your state to understand what problems are legally required to be disclosed right away.

    Various states have different registries for noise complaints, criminal offenders, etc., so it might be in your best interest to disclose them beforehand. That way, you have the moral high ground, and you could explain to the buyer how the problem is being resolved.

    Selling a House with a Neighbor Problem & When to Disclose

    Now that you know that you must disclose some aspects of sabotaging neighbors, if not all, let’s discuss how you could resolve the problem before you HAVE to inform the buyer.

    Should I sue my neighbor for devaluing my property?
    The answer to this question highly depends on the nature and intensity of the harassment.

    You could potentially sue your neighbor for sabotaging the house sale or trespassing your property – but it shouldn’t be your first option. Try to talk it through or complain to concerned authorities and sue if absolutely necessary. A legal dispute might cost you more money than a diplomatic solution.

    Let’s see your options now.

    1. Complain to HOA or COA
      Suing your neighbor for sabotaging your house sale might seem like a viable option, but it isn’t easy. You really can’t prove how much they devalued your property. The ideal way to deal with this is to talk to your neighbor directly and resolve the issue.

      Of course, that’s easier said than done since some neighbors just won’t listen. You should put a formal complaint to Homeowners Association (HOA) or Condominium Owners Association (COA) in such cases.

      You could also check the guidelines of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions (CCRs) for your specific community to see if HOA (or COA) has authority over your dispute or not.

      If it does, then you can relax. The association will talk to your neighbor or send them a legal cease and desist notice on the count of violating regulations from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
    1. Complain to City or County Authorities
      If your HOA and COA don’t have the proper jurisdiction over the dispute, you can complain to your local county office or city office and get the police involved. It’s a good idea to consult a property lawyer or atleast hire a surveyor who would confirm the legal boundaries since that would help you with your trespassing claims.

      These surveyors usually cost upto $500-600, but their formal report will save you thousands on the sale value. The last option is to sue your neighbors for their sabotaging behavior and get the issue resolved quickly before the buyers come.
  • Everything You Need to Know About Buying a House Out of State

    Everything You Need to Know About Buying a House Out of State

    Are you thinking about buying a house out of state but don’t know where to start? There are a few things you absolutely must know if it’s going to be a success.

    Why to Buy a House Out of State

    Many people wonder why anyone would want to go through all the work of finding, financing, and purchasing a house outside of their home state. The answer is: lots of reasons!

    For people who live in a cold climate, they may want a vacation home in a warm, sunny place. For those who live in Florida but like to ski, they may want a house in the snowy mountains! Plenty of other people just want a second home to go for family vacations and getaway weekends.

    Another good reason people buy houses out of state is to make money. Buying an investment rental property in an area where property is less expensive, but rental prices are high is a great financial decision.

    One of the more stressful reasons to purchase a home out of state is when your family is moving because of a job transfer. This kind of move usually must happen more quickly and is more permanent.

    We’ve all seen those shows on HGTV that make buying out-of-state property look fun and easy, and it can be! The important thing is to have a plan and a team to support your search.

    Where to Look for a House Out of State

    Like most things we look for these days, your search will probably begin on the Internet. There are many reputable websites where you can search for properties in any state. There are real estate company specific sites as well as general sites such as those populated by the MLS. These sites are a great place to start looking at listings of homes and learning about the area where you plan to purchase a property.

    Things to Consider About Buying a House Out of State

    Just like buying a home where you currently live, there are lots of things to consider when purchasing property in another state. You will want to consider the type of property you are looking for, the area you want to focus on, and what your budget is. All of these will be important to keep in mind as you begin your search.

    Will you need financing?

    Financing a home out of state will likely have some similarities to buying one in your home state. You’ll want to make sure that you are working with a mortgage lender or bank that is licensed in the state you are purchasing the home. They should answer your questions and help you throughout the process.

    You will also want to check the loan options available, which will change depending on whether this is your vacation home or an investment property. Often investment properties will require a higher down payment (at least 20%) and the loans are often at a higher interest rate. In any case, unless you are paying cash, you will want to make sure you are pre-approved for a loan before you start shopping.

    Should you use a real estate agent?

    Although the internet has lots of resources to help your home search, nothing is as helpful as working with a real estate agent. Real estate agents have access to much more information to help you throughout the home buying process. They know the neighborhoods, the school systems, and the crime rates of the area. They can give you honest assessments of properties based on their knowledge and experience.

    You’ll want to make sure that you find a buyer’s agent, not a listing agent, to work with. Listing agents are responsible for getting their seller the highest price they can, so they won’t be helping you to make a deal. You’ll want to make sure you are working with a buyer’s agent that you like and trust. Most buyer’s agents are paid by the seller, so you don’t have to worry about that.

    What if you can’t visit in person?

    It isn’t always possible to hop on a plane to go look at a property across the country. That’s why you need to have a great buyer’s agent on your team. They can go to the property and video chat with you or take additional photos and videos to send to you. Your agent can ask questions on your behalf and do research on the specific property for you.

    Pros and Cons of Owning Out-of-State Property

    For many people, owning another home, far away from where they live might seem like a major pain. It’s one more property to take care of, to manage repairs, and in general to worry about! However, if you are purchasing an investment or a vacation home, out-of-state property can be a great benefit! It will give you someplace to visit and host your family and friends, or another way to make money to plan for an early retirement!