Real Estate

12 Ways Your Neighbors Can Screw Up Your Home’s Sale

If you’ve ever been on the hunt for that perfect piece of real estate, then you know that decisions aren’t made based on the house alone. Even if your home is in perfect condition, your neighbors can cause your home sale to go south. 
old orange car abandoned in yard of derelict house


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You’re finally ready to sell your home. You have meticulously staged it, completed every repair, and boosted its curb appeal with fresh paint and landscaping. But have you considered your neighbors? After all, buyers are investing in the entire neighborhood, not just the house itself, so neighbors with less-than-desirable qualities can seriously hurt your home sale. In fact, bad neighbors can bring about a 10 percent reduction in your home’s value.

Learn some of the ways neighbors can hurt a home sale so you can try to nip these bad situations in the bud before prospective buyers start visiting.

1. They Have an Overgrown Yard

low view of long grass in sunlit overgrown yard

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. When what lies on the other side of yours is an overgrown wilderness of dead brush and debris, prospective home buyers may prefer to look elsewhere since overgrown vegetation can be an eyesore as well as a sign of neglectful neighbors.

RELATED: The Invincible Yard: 25 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

2. Their House Is in Foreclosure

man in suit sits on porch of house foreclosed with for sale sign by door

A foreclosure in the neighborhood is the kiss of death for other area homes on the market, and can lower your home’s value. While a foreclosed house next door may not deter first-time buyers looking for a starter home, more discerning shoppers may see it as a sign of a bad neighborhood.

RELATED: 10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Bought a Foreclosure

3. They’re Noisy

three siblings in home office arguing over laptop

Loud noises in the neighborhood can be another deterrent to house hunters scoping out your place. Whether the teenagers next door are arguing at all hours or loud music is thumping, all that racket can destroy the peaceful sense of welcome you’re trying to convey to a prospective buyer.

RELATED: 9 Top Tips for Blocking Out Noisy Neighbors

4. They Smoke

woman smoking cigarette on balcony

Like it or not, something as simple as a next-door neighbor who smokes—cigarettes or otherwise—can turn prospective buyers off in a heartbeat. That’s because secondhand smoke can snake through open windows, fouling indoor air and surfaces.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Air Purifiers for Smoke

5. They Have a Mean Dog

black lab dog barking and growling in yard

Particularly for parents with young kids, an unfriendly dog (or any dog) next door can be a deal-breaker. Safety is a top priority for families in search of a house. Ask your neighbor to keep their pups in their yards or on leashes.

RELATED: 10 Dog House Plans You Can DIY for Your Furry Friend

6. They Break HOA Rules

three empty brown trash cans on edge of lawn on residential street

If you live in a subdivision that requires residents to abide by a list of rules and regulations, rebellious neighbors are sure to cause grief. Buyers who value a clean suburban aesthetic and the benefits of a homeowners association will take quick notice of the fact that your neighbor doesn’t trim back their trees or bring their emptied trash cans out of the driveway, and ask their real estate agents to show them a different neighborhood.

RELATED: 11 Unenforceable HOA Rules—and How to Fight Them

7. They Have a Criminal Record

elderly man looking out window parting blinds and talking on cell phone

Homes located within one-tenth of a mile of a registered sex offender can suffer up to a 12 percent decrease in property value. While there’s not much you can do about who lives within a square-mile radius, knowing who’s close by and how their presence could affect your sale may help you set more realistic expectations when you price it.

RELATED: How Safe is My Neighborhood? 7 Tools to Find Out

8. Their House Needs to Be Painted

exterior wall of house with window with lace curtain and yellow siding that is faded and chipping

When a neighbor’s house hasn’t had a fresh exterior paint job in a while, it indicates possible negligence and ruins your block’s aesthetic appeal, and buyers may think twice before making an offer. If you have a good relationship, consider chatting with your neighbor about your concerns and referring them to your favorite painter.

RELATED: 12 Exterior Paint Colors That Will Help Sell Your House

9. They Have a Lot of “Weekend Vehicles” in the Driveway

large white camper vehicle parked on shady street in residential neighborhood

While it’s fun to have big toys like boats, RVs, and all-terrain vehicles, it’s not quite so fun to see them cluttering up streets and driveways all year long. If buyers observe lots of “weekend vehicles” sitting out in the open, your home can lose several points in the aesthetics department—enough to make prospective buyers give it a pass.

10. They Hang Controversial Signs or Decorations

"Any adult" political sign in yard

If your neighbors have controversial signs or decorations that don’t align with the values of prospective buyers, they may be making it tougher to sell your home. Political signs, for example, can be incredibly divisive and can even spark arguments among neighbors.

RELATED: 12 Things You Don’t Realize Are Annoying Your Neighbors

11. They Have a Busy Home-Based Business

group of women in fitness attire doing yoga in front yard of suburban home

A neighbor who runs a childcare service or some other business from home, or who frequently rents out their house, can be a turnoff for potential buyers. House hunters often prefer quiet neighborhoods, so the noise of people coming and going can be off-putting. Buyers might also feel less safe if strangers are constantly visiting the house next door.

12. They’re Overly Friendly

senior man in yellow sweater stands behind fence and waves at neighbor who is blurry in the foreground

No one wants to live next to a rude neighbor, but an overly friendly neighbor can be a problem too. Most buyers want to feel like their privacy will be respected when they move into a new home, so if your neighbor is poking around at every showing, asking questions and giving unsolicited opinions, prospective buyers may wonder whether their privacy and boundaries will be respected.