If you are looking at Sacramento real estate or searching homes for sale in Sacramento, you might want to know how to deal with a neighbor who’s hurting your home value. Well, loving thy neighbor may be easier said than done. We’re lucky if we can just plug our nose and look the other way sometimes. A recent survey found that 60% of Americans have a pet peeve with someone who lives nearby.
Your life can be a total nightmare if you have a bad neighbor. Certain neighborhood nuisances, such as unkempt yards, foul odors, annoying pets, and dangerous trees, could reduce the value of your home by 5% or more. I read about an appraiser who said a house in his area sold for 8% less than comparable nearby homes, due to some large, snarling dogs next door. Would you like to raise your kids there? Probably not . . .
So, what recourse do you have? You can move off the grid and into the mountains, or you can expect issues to arise and be prepared to deal with them appropriately. Try a few of the conversation-starters below before looking at log cabins in the boonies or lobbing a Drano-burger over the fence.
OPENING SALVO: “Hey Victoria, I haven’t seen you in a while. Everything alright with you?” This often works because it allows us to see the problem differently. For instance, perhaps the dog that’s been incessantly barking at the moon all night is outside more frequently because the owner has an out-of-town guest who’s allergic. Or, maybe the yard is a mess because the neighbor is ill. You may just find out that the situation is temporary. If not . . .
MAKE IT ABOUT YOU: “My infant naps in the afternoon and just won’t sleep if it’s not quiet. Thing is, Duke is often outside barking at that time.” This often works because the focus is on how the problem affects you, and your comments will probably be better received than, “Your Chihuahua barks too much,” which puts the monkey on your neighbor’s back. Using “I”statements helps you avoid coming across as confrontational.
REPHRASE IT AND REPEAT IT BACK TO THEM: “I totally understand that doggie day care is too expensive and that you can’t bring Duke to work with you.” This works because the neighbor needs to understand that you really do get it. Show that you understand your neighbor’s perspective by rephrasing what they said in your own words. Listening to what’s important can also help you create solutions that work for both of you. For instance, if you learn that the neighbor is concerned about the cost of removing a sick tree that hangs onto your property, you could offer to split the cost.
KNOW YOUR BOTTOM LINE: “It would be great if Duke stopped barking altogether, but what I really need is for him to be quiet from 2 to 4 PM. This works because you’re stating what you think is a reasonable resolution. Think through in advance what your ideal outcome is, what you’ll tolerate, and when you’ll walk away. Walking away means being ready with an “or else” plan, like calling the police if your neighbor refuses to turn down the loud music after midnight.
LAY DOWN THE LAW: “You likely didn’t know that there’s a local ordinance on noise; I brought you a copy.” Speaking softly and carrying a big stick shows your neighbor that you’re serious and, if necessary, have some powerful next steps. However, approach it gently. You don’t want to come across as a jerk that’s looking for an excuse to escalate the situation.
SEEK OUTSIDE HELP: “Uh, we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Can we give mediation a try?” At mediation, you and your neighbor sit down with a third party to find a solution. It puts positive attention toward the goal of working the issue out for both sides. Approximately 75% of those who use mediation walk away with an agreement.
Using one or more of these approaches will give you the best opportunity to settle your neighborly differences with a handshake. If you’re looking at homes for sale in Sacramento or considering selling or listing your home, give me a call to discuss your personal situation.