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How to sell your house despite your messy neighbor

Zillow • Mar 4, 2013 at 4:07 PM

The real estate market is tough enough these days. The last thing you want to worry about is that the condition of your neighbor’s home might negatively impact your property value. But for some of us this is a reality that must be dealt with; whether it’s a nonstop barking dog, a cluttered yard, or unmaintained landscaping, your neighbor’s house can be an unnecessary distraction for potential buyers.

More important than the annoyance of these bad neighbors is the fact that their sloppiness can cost you thousands of dollars when you decide to sell your house. In fact, you might lose as much as 5-10 percent of the potential sale price as a result of this problem.

If this describes your situation and you’re struggling to figure out how you can overcome a problematic neighbor, here are some practical tips to help you navigate the circumstances.


Properties are usually neglected because the people are physically or financially unable to keep up with the demands, or they simply like to resist the expectations of the neighborhood. It’s important to remember that your neighbor may be facing an extenuating circumstance like a newborn baby or a sickness, or perhaps they are going through a significant life event like a divorce. Whatever the reason, try and find out the cause of the problem because it might help tailor a solution.

Have a Conversation

Once you understand the situation, it’s time to have a conversation with your neighbor. This is not an easy conversation to have so it’s good to remind yourself that you are trying to save tens of thousands of dollars.

When speaking to your neighbor it’s important to have a plan. Having a plan lowers your chances of becoming too emotional. Use a low-key approach when you bring your concerns to his/her attention and perhaps you could even offer to help with the cleanup effort. Appeal to their good nature and keep smiling. Be friendly and relaxed and focus your conversation on their needs rather than making it about your needs with the sale of your home.

Enlist Help

Sometimes a conversation isn’t enough to get results. Maybe the home is vacant, or the people living there are tenants who aren’t responsible for the condition of the home’s exterior, or perhaps your messy neighbors simply decide they won’t clean up their act. If that happens, there are a few more options. If you haven’t already done so, offer an incentive to your neighbor – donate your services to help with the restoration process – whatever that may be.

If there are tenants living next door, find the home owner and appeal to them. Ask your real estate agent to get involved. A professional can talk to the neighbor about the issue(s) that are hindering the sale of the home. If that doesn’t work, contact the governing homeowners association (if there is one) and ask for their help. Beyond that, you can check with your local city/county ordinances to see what recourse you have with code violations. If all else fails, a real estate attorney can guide you through your specific situation.

This story was written by Monte Mohr, who has sold over 2,500 homes, making him one of Americas top Realtors for the last 25 years. This experience has given him a unique perspective on the Nashville TN Real Estate Market worth paying attention to. He is also a regular contributor of real estate advice to Nashville’s NBC affiliate station, WSMV Channel 4. To learn more about Monte Mohr's experience as a real estate agent, to get free advice about your biggest real estate challenges or to request an interview contact him at Info@TennesseeDreamHomes.com


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