How REALTORS® Can Overcome Messy Neighbors

REALTORS® know that one of the keys to successfully selling a property is presentation and attention to detail. Still, after the hedges are trimmed and the doors are painted, the eyesore of a messy neighbor can undo all your hard work.

Abandoned or foreclosed homes are one thing, unkempt properties and messy neighbors are quite another. Whether yards are littered, the home is in general disrepair, or the shrubs and trees are overgrown, the neighboring properties can significantly affect your ability to make a sale.

Not to worry. There are steps that can be taken to mitigate the damage of a messy neighbor.

Exaggerate positives of your property


Show a clear distinction between your property and the neighbor’s. Remember the saying, “Good fences make good neighbors,” and draw clear boundaries if the neighbor in question happens to be next door. This could mean adding new landscaping, adding fencing or highlighting other features to keep the attention on your property.

Know what you can clean up


You want to remain neighborly, but you also want to take care of your property. Homeowners have a right to prune shrubs and trees that cross their property line. If you can do so legally, clean up what you can along the property line, and make sure everything in your yard is in tip-top shape.  REALTOR® Magazine has a guide to dealing in the margins: “Legal Know-How: Taming the Neighbor’s Trees.”

Offer to Help


Contact your neighbor and offer to help clean up. If the neighbor has fallen on financial hard times or is battling health issues, they might welcome the assistance. If the neighbor is just being difficult, or worse, is sabotaging the sale, real estate writer Melissa Dittman Tracey offers tips for “When Neighbors Make it Tough to Sell,” and also recommends, “Battling a Neighborhood Eyesore.”

See if the law is on your side


Some states have laws that require owners to maintain their property. If problems persist and you’ve exhausted other measures, legal action can be an option.

For further reading on dealing with a messy neighbor, see how an eyesore next door scared buyers away from a listing until sales associate Andy Hood took the initiative and offered a neighbor a helping hands, in REALTOR® Magazine’s, “An Intervention with a Messy Neighbor.”

Do have experience dealing with a messy neighbor? What advice do you have for other REALTORS®?