Just like family, you can’t choose your neighbours. If you have difficult neighbours, whether it be that they are excessively noisy, argumentative or fail to look after their property, selling can be a real challenge.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Imagine rocking up to an Open Home and hearing heavy music blasting from the neighbour’s house or noticing that their property resembles a junkyard that is very close to encroaching over the boundary line. You’re not likely to buy that home are you, even if it ticks the boxes in every other way?
Here are a few practical tips to try if you have difficult neighbours and are planning to sell.
Talk to them
Your neighbour may not even realise there is a problem. By going over and letting them know that you are about to sell, they may be happy to assist by turning the volume down during Open Home times or practising the saxophone at a different time of day and inside rather than on the back deck close to your main living room.
Alternatively, you could slip them a note explaining the issue and tactfully suggesting how they could help.
If they own the property, let them know that if your home sells for a good price this will reflect well on their own property value.
Determine if their actions are legal
If you find that any activities being conducted at your neighbour’s place are illegal (such as drug activity, harassment or even burning off) you have every right to seek guidance from the police or your local council.
Consider when to have your Open Home
Let’s say your neighbour is a music teacher and has students every Saturday morning. If the ‘music’ is loud and intrusive at these times, ask your agent to arrange Open Homes for the afternoons instead of in the morning. Similarly, if there are people living next door who often play loud music in the afternoons but tend to sleep in Saturday mornings, then elect those quiet times to have your Open Homes.
If you live next to nosy neighbours there are some effective solutions as long as you plan them well in advance of selling. Ideas include Installing curtains, blinds or shutters on windows facing the boundary line, planting a fast growing hedge or bamboo, or increasing the height of your fence.
Parking can be a contentious issue, particularly for inner-city areas. If your neighbour is regularly encroaching on your parking space with a car, boat, caravan or trailer, ask them if they could be mindful of the boundary and park their vehicle elsewhere, especially while your home is on the market.
Call your strata manager
If you are selling a Strata Title property and are having trouble with your neighbours, call the strata manager as the issue likely impacts others in the complex as well.
Boundary issues are one of the main causes of neighbourhood disputes, especially issue relating to trees and fences. Check with your local council if there are concerns about any trees on your neighbour’s property that are causing issues on your property. If you don’t have a fence, speak to your neighbour about sharing the cost to erect one and, if they refuse, consider the benefits of paying for it yourself in order to secure a better sale price.
While there is nothing you can do to change the colour or design of your neighbour’s home, you could consider offering an incentive to clean up their yard. For instance you could offer to pay the tipping fees to remove excess rubbish or do the garden for them if they have a health condition that prevents them doing it themselves and it has become an eyesore in the street.
Practise what you preach
Last but not least, practise what you preach by being a considerate neighbour yourself.
Do you need to tell the buyer?
The onus is on the prospective buyer to do their own research, so you are under no obligation to tell them about your challenges with the neighbours when selling. This is one of the reasons a good conveyancer or solicitor is so important when buying.