Saturday, February 28, 2009

Any Ghosts in the Closets? The Neighbors Will Talk

”Do you think I will get top dollar for my home,” my seller paused before adding, “ even after what happened here?”
From the tone of her voice, my instinct told me that this wasn’t good. “What happened here?”

My seller shared the story of how after they had moved into their beautiful home that the neighborhood children began to tease their children “that they lived in a haunted house”. There was much more to a last minute disclosure of a “death” in the house than had been told. Unfortunately, they had not met the neighbors before the close of escrow to share the tale of the house. While they bought the house at a reduced price, moved in and lived there happily for many years without any problems, knowing the history may have affected their decision to buy the house and should have been disclosed more thoroughly since it will live on with the house.

I have had numerous encounters with neighbors before helping buyers purchase a home and while some neighbors may have a vendetta again the seller, most often the information is helpful.

For example, while looking at a piece of land with a buyer, the neighbor stepped over to share that she wondered why anyone would buy a piece of land you couldn’t build on, because it was in a flood plain. While this wouldn’t necessarily stop me, if I loved the land, just because a neighbor says something doesn’t make it fact. However, I would definitely heed the warning and check it out with the government agency that issues building permits.

In this day of foreclosures, neighbors can be a great source of information since the banks are exempt from certain disclosures, since they have no knowledge of the house. Recently, I approached a neighbor with a potential buyer for the house next door. With a friendly introduction, we asked the neighbor about the sewer that was noted “available” in the listing information. The kind neighbor shared with us about the home being on septic, as well as, the questionable addition had been there since the house was built. While again, I would still recommend checking out the building plans at the government agency, the neighbor’s information gave my buyers the information they needed to feel comfortable enough to proceed with an offer.

So the moral of the story is, it is a good idea to meet your new neighbors before you make an offer or as soon after, while doing your inspections…to find out if there are any ghosts in the closets.

--Virginia Hall

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