Jim Valentine: Are your neighbors blighting the neighborhood?
Buying a home is a significant investment. It is usually the largest single financial investment a person makes in their lifetime. Because of its relative impact on the financial well being of the buyer, most people are very cautious during the acquisition process. In addition to inspecting the physical condition of the home, they will look at the title and the neighborhood.
When looking at the neighborhood, they will notice how other property owners in the area maintain and live on their property. Are the homes in need of maintenance or are they painted nicely and the landscaping well-maintained? Are the vehicles nice and parked appropriately or are they missing parts and parked haphazardly next to the house? Is the front lawn an extra parking spot close to the front door? How they live on/in and maintain their property has a direct impact on the surrounding homeowners.
While there can certainly be downsides, one advantage of living in a Common Interest Community (HOA) is that you have a mechanism in place to correct extended breaches in courteous living that can impact the overall value of the subdivision. If a neighbor starts a junk collection that is a visual blight, the HOA will intervene on behalf of the collective owners and mandate that it be remedied.
Without the availability of the enforcement power of the HOA, fixing such problems can be difficult. We’ve seen situations where county and town have had their hands tied when trying to enforce codes against serial scofflaw code breakers. The neighbors suffered as did the community. This can be problematic to everybody but the perpetrator. To mitigate such a situation takes a concerted effort by the neighborhood and authorities. People have private property rights that must be protected, but not to the detriment of their neighbors.
Not all visual blights require extreme action. If a neighbor has a construction project going on with materials being delivered and dropped in, a public sensitive area have some understanding. It isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a moment in time when they are improving their property, enhancing their value and ostensibly enhancing yours. Filing a complaint in such a situation can cause project delays extending the other construction nuisance factors.
We learned of one such situation lately where a complaint was filed because of many pallets of very heavy bricks on a cul-de-sac awaiting placement. After the complaint, they were moved, to be replaced with mountains of base, gravel and other materials. When the governing body came to investigate, they soon realized that it was a private cul-de-sac over which they had no jurisdiction. The nosy neighbor that complains when the party improving their property even trims their trees are themselves a blight in that neighborhood, despite the fact that they maintain their property well. Problem neighbors impact property value if you own, up and down. If you rent, you can move. An owner doesn’t have such flexibility.
Our advice: If you have a problem with a neighbor creating blight in your neighborhood, start by trying to talk to that neighbor about the matter. Is it temporary? Are they in a pickle and need some help? What can be done to remedy the problem in a neighborly fashion? If cooperation is lacking, then you might have to resort to filing a complaint with the appropriate code enforcement entity. What happens at this point can impact the neighborhood, so be sure to be neighborly as you approach the matter. If they are unreasonable, then it’s on them. If you are being unreasonable, then consider your happiness for the remainder of your ownership in that neighborhood before blowing things wide open.
Neighbors can actually increase or decrease your value without any interest in your property. A tightknit happy neighborhood can separate you from the rest of the market when you sell. Do your part to keep things right.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. email@example.com