Neighbors affect home values

good neighbors
Good Neighbors (infographic from appfolio.com)

The housing market has been fairly good in recent years.  In fact, the shortage of homes for sale has shown how competitive home buyers can be as they try to outbid their cohorts for hot properties.  Even homes that are in need of “tlc” or have been neglected in some way have found new owners too.  But, as I have mentioned in the past, not all homes sell.  And for some home sellers whose homes have not sold, they only need to look their neighbors.

That’s correct.  Your neighbor may have more sway over your home sale and property value than you think.  A 2013 news item from the Appraisal Institute warns home sellers and buyers about the neighbor factor (Bad Neighbors Can Reduce Property Values, Appraisal Institute Warns; appraisalinstitute.org; January 30 2013).  Not only can bad neighbors affect your sale, but can “significantly reduce nearby property values.”

Former Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges II, MAI, SRA stated:

I’ve seen many situations where external factors, such as living near a bad neighbor, can lower home values by more than 5 to 10 percent…Homeowners should be aware of what is going on in their neighborhood and how others’ bad behaviors could affect their home’s value.”

“Bad neighbors” are often characterized as inconsiderate, if not sometimes belligerent.  Typical neighbor complaints stem from pets, excessive noise, and poor exterior home maintenance.  In high density neighborhoods (such as townhomes and condos), parking and trash/recycling debris can also be a source of neighbor conflict.

Neighbor disputes are often resolved by talking it out.  However, if you find that your neighbor is not receptive, you may have other avenues of recourse.  If you live in a Homeowners or Condo Association, your association may offer assistance in resolving your issue.

Montgomery County addressed the issue by enacting “Good Neighbor” ordinances in 2011 “to preserve the quality of life” in the county.  The purpose was to reduce the influx of commercial influences into residential neighborhoods, and maintain their domiciliary character.  These ordnances were directed at home based businesses, parking of commercial vehicles, off street vehicle parking, and paving of front yards.

If you believe your neighbor issue arises from a code violation, you can contact the appropriate county department to investigate a complaint.  For example, Housing Code Enforcement can investigate such things as housing and building standards, overgrown weeds, and excess debris in yards.  Whereas the Department of Police – Animal Services Division can investigate common pet complaints such as an unleashed pet roaming the neighborhood, or a neighbor not cleaning up after their pet does their business on your yard or common areas.

Unfortunately, there are occasions where trying to resolve your neighbor issues civilly comes up short.  In extreme instances, however, you may have to seek legal counsel.

Being a good neighbor is a two-way street, often requiring some compromise and offering assistance.  Housing experts suggest that you can resolve your neighbor issues by talking to them.  All too often, neighbors who seem neglectful of their homes are actually in need of assistance.  Regardless of their issues, they may be too proud to ask for help, they don’t know where to get help, or they are so overwhelmed they don’t know they need help.  Talking to your neighbors and lending a hand can not only mend fences and build a stronger community, but may also increase the value of your home.

Copyright© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Think about the parking before you buy a home

by Dan Krell
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© 2012

New HomesIn light of the increased attention of predatory towing in Montgomery County, it’s become apparent that parking is one of those things we often take for granted; parking doesn’t seem to be a consideration until we are hassled about finding a spot to leave our car.  Sure, we may think ahead about parking when we venture downtown or to the metro, but what about when we get home?  Parking can sometimes be a challenge as well as the source of neighbor conflict.  When buying a home, make sure you’re aware of the neighborhood parking conditions.

To ensure that residents have a parking space, many townhome and garden condo communities offer at least one, if not two, reserved parking spaces.  This may sound good, but if your family has multiple cars parking may still be a challenge.  However, if you think parking your extra cars in the unreserved spaces (often labeled “visitor”) solves your problem; consider how many other neighbors who own multiple cars are parking in these spaces as well – which could make the neighborhood feel like you’re parking in a busy downtown area.

Making matters worse, imagine how inconsiderate neighbors or visitors who park in your reserved space can affect your day.  Returning home late in the evening to find an unauthorized car in your reserved space, and no other parking spots available can not only be frustrating but leave you angry and resentful.

Parking issues are not only a phenomenon of high density communities, but can also occur in neighborhoods comprised of single family homes.  Regardless whether you have a driveway or not, off street parking can sometimes be tricky.  Much like the scenario of having an unauthorized car in a reserved parking space: you might encounter situations where people park in your driveway without asking (usually when neighbors have parties), or more often someone blocks the entrance to your driveway making it impossible to leave or enter.

If you’re planning to buy a home, don’t wait until it’s too late to think about parking.  Experts recommend you visit potential homes in the evenings and weekends to see how the parking is impacted when most people are home.  Circumstances that could impact a neighborhood’s parking availability might include recreational and commercial vehicles, as well as a neighbors’ home based businesses.  If you have a chance to interact with some of the neighbors, ask about the parking situation and how the neighborhood copes with parking issues.

Additionally, if you’re considering a home that’s located in a home owners or condo association; the association rules and bylaws are recommended reading.  Familiarize yourself with the rules and bylaws so you know the association parking regulations and how the management company deals with unauthorized vehicles.

In many areas there are parking restricted neighborhoods, like some in Montgomery County MD that are included in the Residential Permit Parking Program, which helps limit non-resident parking in neighborhoods that are impacted by nearby high traffic public areas and facilities.  Ask your real estate agent about obtaining resident and visitor permits as well as asking about the parking situation.

When purchasing a home you should consider the parking conditions, as well as how the neighborhood deals with unauthorized parking.  Many high density communities have strict towing policies, which makes someone think twice about unauthorized parking after being towed.  However, most neighborhoods solely rely on the residents’ thoughtfulness of their neighbors.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of November 19, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

Coping with neighbors

by Dan Krell ©2012
DanKrell.com

neighborhoodThere’s not a whole lot that will test your patience more than difficult neighbors. Neighbors, for the most part, tolerate each other regardless of their idiosyncrasies. However, it seems that the closer in proximity you live to your neighbor, the potential for friction increases; sometimes a worst case scenario develops and tempers flare. Common neighbor complaints typically concern pets, parking, excessive noise, and the maintenance of the home exterior and the lawn. When neighbor complaints arise, the offending neighbor is often characterized as being inconsiderate.

From a distance, the issues may seem inconsequential, but we find the situation and behavior of those who are involved in the neighborly dispute to be entertaining. The idea is so entertaining that Hollywood has capitalized on the theme and has created a number of hit movies. Sure, the “bad neighbor” portrayed in the cinema is an exaggeration of traits that we would consider as meddling and zany (such as Dan Akroyd’s character in “Neighbors [1981]),” or secretive and suspicious (such as Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack in “Arlington Road [1999]).” Some films depict a new resident to find out the entire neighborhood acts bizarrely, such as portrayed in “The ‘Burbs (1989)” or the “Stepford Wives (1975 and 2004).

As much as we enjoy the over the top behavior depicted in “neighbor” films, we like to think everyone tries being considerate of their neighbors in real life. However, if this were true, then “good neighbor laws” would not be enacted.

Montgomery County enacted its own “good neighbor laws” last year. These laws affect: home based businesses (limiting the amount of visits into the home as well as possibly limiting parking depending on the type of home based business); parking of commercial vehicles (except for temporary parking, parking for heavy commercial and recreational vehicles are prohibited from parking on residential streets); and off street parking (must be on surfaced areas, unregistered vehicles are not allowed on the property, and there may be limitations on the amount of front yard that can be surfaced for parking). Of course, these “good neighbor laws” are enforced by [neighbor] complaints.

neighborhoodCoping with annoying and meddling neighbors on a daily basis can be challenging, but how about when you’re selling your home? Since most neighbor issues are caused by a lack of communication, experts recommend trying to speak to your neighbor first. Once talking with your neighbor, you may find you share a few commonalities. You may even be surprised to find out that your neighbor is in need of your assistance in cleaning their yard, or towing the unused cars away.

If you find that your neighbor is not responding with your attempts to communicate, then gaining support from other neighbors may assist you in getting your neighbor to be more considerate.

Of course, if your neighbor is totally unresponsive, you may find yourself seeking assistance through official channels; such as making complaining to your HOA, local officials, or even the police. Although not all HOAs are good at enforcing their rules, complaints made to local authorities are often investigated and handled through official channels.

Don’t wait for a home sale to mend your relationship with your neighbor. Besides smiling regularly, experts suggest that long term neighbor problems may be avoided by solving issues when they arise.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of June 4, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

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