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My house has been for sale for 2 months. Next door's backyard is a mess. Clean it up or lower price?

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January 23 2010 - Lake Claire
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Answers (28)

Welcome to Virginia! As I was reading this post, it occurred to me that this situation is a good argument for the plus side of Home Owner Associations (HOA) ~ not that it would have applied here, but we are always looking for examples to understand the pros & cons!  The added expense of an HOA fee seems burdensome at first glance, but knowing that your neighbors must abide by rule and regulations that would prevent this type of situation pays for itself in the long run. Sorry your sale was impacted so heavily! 

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March 28 2012
Profile picture for Dobiegrl
Hi Sunny,
 So nice of you to check in. Having been a realtor in Atlanta myself, I knew we had to make a serious change, and sadly, that neighbor "horse" could just not be made to drink , so to speak.
I still hear from my friends and neighbors who know everything we did to try to work with the people in order to solve the eyesore.  It's a lovely neighborhood of classic 1920's bungalows with sidewalks and porches perfect for communing with neighbors, so it is sad to have to pass the eyesore problem on to someone else.
The neighbors did seem to be "trying" to cooperate, but I think there were some issues , possibly some "hoarding" tendancies. We certainly did everything we could, as did our realtor, to clean it up. Finally, though, we could not stay any longer. We do enjoy the city here- it is run very efficiently and is a real pleasure-- they even have a truck that picks up your leaves if you rake them into the street on the designated "leaf" day. Alexandria is incredibly dog friendly-- some restaurants will allow you to bring your dog in, to special areas.  The leash and "scooper" laws are strictly enforced, and these types of regulations make for better neighbors and a nice, clean city!  On the whole, with a nicer small town yet international "flava"  here, and the DC "corridor" with all the museums, shopping, and dining you could ask for just minutes away, plus a fine public transportation system,  we feel we "traded up" in terms of cities. :)






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March 23 2012
Profile picture for sunnyview
Thanks for the update dobiegirl. I am glad that your agent did good work for you. That is so nice to hear.

It is terrible that the city was unwilling to enforce the code in Atlanta, but so good to hear that you are out of that situation and on to greener pastures! I hope the job change was an overall positive and that your neighbors now are nice.
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March 23 2012
Profile picture for Dobiegrl
I forgot to update this to let everyone know what happened.
A complaint was filed with City of Atlanta housing department, they contacted the neighbors about their numerous housing code violations, but  NOTHING happened. The city even claimed to have a court date, but in the end they did nothing to enforce the law against this egregious eyesore.
We talked to the neighbors a number of times,  hired a crew to go over and clean up the neighbors' backyard, and even after that, they still refused to remove the last of the old junk cars-- they just covered all the rest of the junk up with tarps . We had to move for work in 2009, so we ended up selling for $40 K less than our asking price , at the advice of our (very experienced) realtor. (Our realtor was a solid professional and we thought she was great.)
 Now the neighbors are someone else's headache. Property values continue to decline on Southerland Terrace and a number of houses there are now for rent.
We now live in Alexandria VA and the city services here are wonderful. They have a very responsive and professional police force, sanitation service is top notch, and laws are actually enforced here.
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March 23 2012
Profile picture for Best Miami Beach
Definitely Clean it up! Increasing the curb appeal is inexpensive and well worth the money!
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March 23 2012
Clean it up!  When potential buyers see that mess they will start to think of all the other headaches that neighbor may cause them.  At this point price does not matter to much because the inconvenience, in their mind, will be long term.
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March 23 2012
I'd recommend working something out with them to get it cleaned up regardless whether your home is priced at, above or below market.

Your pricing strategy is one of the strongest tools in your arsenal to get your home the attention it deserves. Obviously the more competitively priced it is, the more attention it will get. The higher the price, the less attention. 
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March 22 2012
OH my...clean it up if they will let you otherwise buyers will see it as an eye sore which could effect selling your home...best of luck
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January 13 2012
Profile picture for sunnyview
@Kyle
You might want to combine profiles (or delete the duplicate) so that all your listings, reviews and Advice contributions moving forward show up on one profile page on Zillow. I think that may also put you higher in the Zillow search under a few different filters so it might be worth doing.
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January 11 2012

Obviously the simplest and less costly measure is to clean up the yard next door.  Buyer's always want to know about the neighbors and neighborhood.  If a house or houses on the street, especially one next door is a wreck would cast a negative impression. 

Regarding your price reduction.  That truly depends on what liketype homes have sold for in the area during the last few months.  Sold comparisons which should be provided by your listing agent are the best measure to gage price reductions.  GLad to discuss this further if you have questions.  Best of luck for a quick sale.

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January 11 2012
This is pointless and DID NOT concern you.  Why respond?  You need a hobby.  Go away. 
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August 24 2010
Snarky?  Is that what it was?

I was simply curious about how feasible it was to expect a person who posted 7 months ago to want to discuss this further with you.
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August 24 2010
What kind of marketing plan is in place???
would a price reduction warent to spending a little money on a fence so you wouldnt see your next doors yard?? I.e. cost of fense vs reduction on sales price...
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August 24 2010
Joan,

Why would someone bother to post a snarky comment when it was not addressed to or concerning them?
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August 24 2010

Why would you want to discuss it further with someone who posted this question in January???

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August 24 2010

Obviously the less costly option would be to "help" your neighbor clean up or at least spruce up their backyard.  Something as simple as mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and trimming the hedges would do wonders and would give the appearance of a tidy and house proud neighbor.

However in this market the correct price trumps all else.  If you are not priced correctly (at true market value) then nothing else matters.  Buyers have the advantage in this market--plenty of homes, condos, townhomes, from which to choose.  Today's buyers are more savvy and are not going to overpay for a house or settle.  If you have been on the market for a couple of months with little or no traffic and more importantly no offers, then a price reduction may be in order.  What you lose on the sell you gain on your next purchase. 

Glad to discuss further if you have additional questions or concerns.  

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August 24 2010
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@Dobiegirl: Five months have passed since you posted this question, and you've not posted again.  I hope that means you happily sold and have moved on.
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June 06 2010
I would base that answer on the feedback your agent should be giving you from showings. If the lack of offers is a result of the poor condition of the yard, then clean it up for sure. Just make sure that the reason there are no offers IS the yard and not some other factor.

The buyers looking at your home will for the most part be honest so take their advice...Good luck in either case!
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June 06 2010
It's a pity that you should be faced with trying to make a decision based on their mess.  If there is a home owners association, or city codes that may be in violation, perhaps you can discretely approach it from that angle.  Is your neighbor perhaps the homeowner or a tenant?

It would certainly be a turn off to any potential buyer, and frankly, I would not encourage my clients to buy next to a "mess".

Unfortunately, unless you can "spank" your neighbors or "nudge" them into being responsible adults, you are in a bit of a "mess" yourself trying to get this house sold.

Hmm.  The best solution I can think of to get it taken care of is to Hire me, I will gladly have a talk with that messy neighbor of yours!!! 

 :)
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June 06 2010
or build a six foot privacy fence on the sides?
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May 13 2010
I would suggest nicely approaching your neighbor and asking them to clean up a bit.  Diplomatically of course.  You must have there approval to enter onto their property however if you use the "ole" Tom Sawyer lines it could work for you.
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May 12 2010
Be carful of cleaning up someone else's property.  You did not specify if the next-door property was vacant or not, a foreclosed property or not.  You may want to call your local zoning/code enforcement office and tell them your concerns.  If the grass is high or may cause a hazard to children, they will cite the homeowner and if owned by a bank, cite the bank.  This is usually the only way to get a vacant property cleaned up.  If it is not vacant, by all means, try the nice neighbor approach and let them know that you are happy to help clean it up.  Bottom line, if you have to lower your price, you lower their value.  A cause and effect that no one wants to have happen.   Best of luck on your sale...
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May 12 2010
Lowering the price may be a bit premature (and you would probably lose more than the cost of having the yard cleaned up). I would suggest approaching your neighbor (respectfully) and offering to have it cleaned up, at your expense.
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March 06 2010
Absolutely. The neighbor's messy yard could be keeping you from a sale. The trick is how you approach the neighbor. Be very sensitive. Offer to have people tidy up their yard. Say that your agent told you that buyers were reluctant to buy your house because of their yard. If they let you pay and organize the cleanup....honestly, it will be a favor to you. Act humble and grateful. Whatever you do, don't tick the neighbor off!
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March 06 2010
Maybe a Spring Cleaning block party?

Also, check the pricing to see if it is competitive in the market with other listings. 

A qualified realtor will be able to analyze this with you if you need assistance.
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March 06 2010
I think you could start by asking your neighbors to tidy up...you don't want to come across as rude, but maybe explaining to them that a couple of potential buyers all mentioned the same thing.  Also suggest that you will hire a crew to clean it up if they don't mind.  You never know...they might not have to time or money to do it...but just be kind and fully explain...I hope they understand and good luck to you..

As suggested before, maybe there are other factors why your house hasn't sold...maybe a reduction and cleaning up would = a sale.

: )
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January 23 2010
If you have the money to do it, put up a fence.  If you have a Homeowner's
Assn, ask about limitations, etc.   Then, call the city to find out  the materials alllowed & the maximum height allowed for your fence.  Then,hire a contractor.  The contractor needs to get a permit from your city and needs to determine your property line, so the fence is on your property only.
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January 23 2010
Profile picture for LasCruces_123
I say it depends on a few factors.
1. Do you know your neighbors? You might just ask them to tidy up a bit and maybe offer your help. You're not going to do all of it, but you will help.
2. If you can't do it, put out a listing for some younger/stronger/hungry students to do it for a free bbq at your house or offer cash as an incentive for them to help out.
3. Do you have a HOA? Some HOA's like mine have guidelines about messy/ undeveloped backyards. You can let them know the problem and let them deal with the neighbors. If they're homeowners, they are expected to follow guidelines just like you did.
4. Talk to your realtor about other reasons your home might not be sold yet. It could also be the interior is too cluttered or the area isn't the most desirable or the default reason: there's a lot of inventory and not enough qualified buyers!
I'm not a pro, but it's a few ideas from one seller to another.Good luck!

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January 23 2010
 
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My house has been for sale for 2 months. Next door's backyard is a mess. Clean it up or lower price?
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