THE BAD NEIGHBOR, WHOSE FAULT IS THAT?
November 3, 2017 | Richard Sites
Bad neighbors can be a reason for moving or at least make your life tense. That’s why there is an old saying, “Good fences make good neighbors”.
But when selling a house, is the bad neighbor a “material fact” that should be disclosed to potential buyers? Let’s talk about it.
What is a Material Fact?
A material fact is anything that could influence a buyer’s decision to buy a property. Sounds a little ambiguous right?
Well it is hard to define material facts and sometimes a court may be called in to settle differences. Here’s an example: If a murder was committed in the house sometime in the past, is that a material fact? Courts have ruled that it is not.
So how do you define a material fact? It is really a matter of perspective. I would suggest that bad neighbors are determined only by the new owners of the subject house. But when a new owner has remorse or does not get along with the neighbor they (new owner) may try to blame the seller or either agent by saying they “knew or should have known” that there were bad neighbors next door.
What is a Bad Neighbor?
That’s pretty hard to say.
If you live where there is no HOA your neighbors are free to do as they please within the limits of the law. It is pretty safe to say loud music or engines running loudly after 11 pm would constitute a problem. Dogs barking all the time might also be an issue.
Recently, in Jupiter Farms, where backyard chickens are allowed, a couple moved in only to find that the neighbor’s rooster, “Rex”, was annoying them. A legal battle ensued before it was determined that Rex could stay.
Even though there is no HOA in Jupiter Farms and you might run across chickens or roosters when you buy there, the new owner no doubt felt that Rex’s owner was a bad neighbor.
And I’m sure Rex’s family would say the other party was also a bad neighbor. So, the bad neighbor is really a matter of perspective.
And some buyers might try to blame the real estate agents by saying they should have known about the bad neighbors but again, it is a matter of perspective.
BTW-Rex is really a beautiful bird!
The Take Away
Although you can never be 100% sure how you will relate to your new neighbors, I would ask the owners of any home you are considering buying a couple of questions about the neighbors and their relationship with them. You might not be satisfied with the new neighbors after you move in but this will at least give you some idea of what to expect.
If you would like to have a conversation about meeting your real estate goals and needs, feel free to contact me using the form below.