Dealing with an Eyesore Next Door
In a buyer’s market, curb appeal – yours and the neighborhood’s – becomes even more important.
Fresh paint, a new front door and colorful landscaping often are sure-fire ways to tease potential buyers over the threshold of a home for sale. But in some cases, no matter how perfect your pansies, nothing can draw their gaze past the tired-looking two-story buried in weeds next door.
More than 60% of 900 people surveyed by contractor-referral site ServiceMagic.com said they have or have had neighbors who make the street look bad by not taking care of the outside of their homes (21% admitted they were the culprit). Common problems: tall weeds and grass, imposing trees or a dying lawn; piled-up junk, particularly old cars; and peeling paint or a visible exterior defect, such as a broken window. Sloppy properties aren’t exclusive to older dwellings in established or up-and-coming neighborhoods. Bad habits are on display in new developments too, say real-estate experts.
Neighborhood eyesores aren’t a new or uncommon problem. But curb appeal, yours and the neighborhood’s, takes on greater significance in a nationwide buyer’s market. For buyers, eyesores may present yet one more negotiating advantage. Remember, appraisals factor in the condition of nearby properties.
Michael Lee, a realty broker for 30 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of “Black Belt Negotiating,” said sellers near eyesores “don’t have to have a fire sale, but do need to put their listing at a price that attracts plenty of traffic … or risk having a home that just sits on the market.” “That is death,” he said. “It becomes the tainted house.”
The National Association of Realtors says an eyesore can shave about 10% off the value of a nearby listing. Market-by-market differences affect that percentage, real-estate experts say, as does the situation — an overgrown lawn across the street is better than a boarded-up property right next door.
“If there are or were other similar eyesores in the area but the market is heading up, it’s likely that the home will get fixed up or torn down sooner than later,” said Bob Golden, a 20-year Atlanta agent with Re/Max. “If it’s the only house in the area that looks bad, it can have a greater impact on the resale of neighboring homes.”