• Sarah Lipkowitz

How To Spot Bad Neighbors Before Buying A House

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

So you’ve found the perfect house and you’re ready to write an offer, but now you’re wondering about the neighbors. What if they’re awful? Frequently, the first piece of advice you’ll receive is to look out for an unkempt yard, but that isn’t always the best way to tell if a neighbor will be troublesome. Here are a few ways to spot bad neighbors before buying a home.

Talk To Them. There is nothing stopping you from spending some time in the neighborhood and knocking on a few doors to get your potential neighbors’ thoughts on the area. How people respond will tell you a lot about the neighborhood. Are they friendly? Are they uncomfortable talking to you? If you are buying a farm, do the neighbors also have animals? Buyers are often afraid to use this tactic, but if you plan on living there, you need to feel comfortable with your neighbors anyway. Just be respectful and people will likely respond better than you’d think (and if they don’t you may want to reconsider writing that offer).

Listen Up. Bad neighbors may include businesses and pets. Take a listen. It is likely that you will hear machinery whirring and dogs barking in any neighborhood, particularly during the warmer months, but certain properties might be less desirable if they are next to a noisy business like a club or even a gym. If you walk down the street on a Tuesday and hear blaring music or the neighbors’ dogs barking like crazy, you know what you might be in for.

Learn About The Area. Is there a nearby college or university? College students may be a bit rowdy and there might be a lot of turnover in the neighborhood. Are there a lot of vacancies or foreclosures? Find out why. This might affect home values and mean that there is something undesirable about the neighborhood. Remember when I said there’s nothing stopping you from spending some time in the neighborhood? I mean it. Take a walk, visit the local shops, meet the residents, and ask lots of questions.

During the spring market when you are competing with other buyers and you need to make quick decisions it can be difficult to take the time to gather the necessary information. If you know you will be on the market for a new home, spend a few months before learning about the areas you are most likely to move to.

Check Out Online Reviews. Whether you are moving in from out of town or you already live nearby, the internet can be incredibly helpful. Online forums and sites like Niche will give you a really in depth understanding of the neighborhood’s culture and any pros and cons that you should be aware of. Keep in mind that people tend to post online if they either really love or really hate something. Don’t get thrown off by one bad review. Multiple bad reviews? Maybe you should start asking questions.

Keep An Eye On Zoning Changes. If a zoning change is in the works, you will want to be aware of it. The addition of city services (like a sewage treatment facility), businesses, or other types of housing nearby might affect the home values and even quality of life for residents. You may really like what’s coming if it means rising home values and new amenities, but traffic and noise might also be drawbacks. If you are purchasing a farm, it is critical that you keep an eye on who might be your neighbor in the future. It is likely you will be grandfathered in if any changes are made, but many farm owners dislike having new housing developments backing to their property.

It’s not always easy to predict whether or not you will be dealing with bad neighbors when you buy a new home. Especially since bad neighbors aren’t always neighbors in the most traditional sense…(i.e. businesses), but hopefully you find that these tips help you spot bad neighbors before writing that offer!

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