Neighbours - The Good, Bad, & The Ugly

If you've got neighbours, then at some point, in some way, they're going to have at least some sort of impact on your life. Some will enrich it, but unfortunately, it's all too possible that some will make it miserable.

Here are a few #truthbombs about neighbours:

Trying to hide something when you're selling your home? One of your neighbours will probably rat you out...

The condition of your neighbour's property can affect YOUR home's value.

Fighting with your neighbours is costly both emotionally & monetarily.

Today's subdivisions have people packed in quite tightly & good-sized yards have been sacrificed for larger homes. It's no wonder that one of the biggest requests I get from buyers is to find a property that doesn't feel like they're living in a fishbowl. And why homes with no neighbours behind, command such a premium.

I've had great neighbours on either side of me for the last 18yrs & I really do count myself lucky, because I hear stories about the bad ones all the time!

The Good
Street parties, cocktails in the driveway, neighbourhood garage sales, sharing keys in case of emergencies, eyes on your property when you're away & a whole host of other things can be the blessing of good neighbours.

Years ago, in the middle of the night, when my youngest son was a newborn & my husband was away for work, I went into the garage for something & accidently locked myself out of the house. After 30mins of trying everything I could think of to get back in & being panicked to the point of tears, I finally knocked on my neighbours door...he got dressed, pulled out a ladder & found a way in! It wasn't easy but he did it, THAT's a good neighbour!

The Bad
Here's where you'll see the petty stuff, the passive aggressive BS...dirty looks as you drive by...parking enforcement or by-law enforcement are suddenly paying you a visit for the smallest of infractions (you know the kind that a friendly civilized chat probably would have solved).

I had clients who lived on a 50ft wide lot, where their back deck & patio were smack dab in the middle of that lot, and one of the neighbours constantly complained about them smoking clients became so stressed about it that they ended up selling & moved somewhere where they had "more elbow room".

And then there was a couple that I met at the home show in Oshawa last year. Their neighbour had security cameras pointed directly at their house as well as a few other weird things that made them feel uncomfortable & they were thinking about moving because of it too...luckily their neighbour moved first & the problem went away.

I also love the irony of the story another client shared with me recently. Many with a single car driveway know the struggle when it comes to parking a 2nd vehicle. One of their neighbours would constantly make comments to them about parking on the street (and they're fairly certain that when they started getting tickets all the time that it was because this neighbour tipped parking enforcement off). Eventually they had their driveway widened to accommodate both vehicles. And lo and behold the neighbour's adult son moved back home...and where did he park? You guessed it, it suddenly became acceptable to park in the street, lol.

The Ugly
And then there's the ugly...we've seen the media stories about how just 1 complaint can cause things to spiral out of control, costing homeowners not just money, but having to be "on guard" all the time stealing their happiness as well. Ice rinks, treehouses, noisy children at play, to name a few well-publicized incidents from the past year

A REALTOR® I know, moved to a property with beautiful 20 foot cedar hedges all along his property line, on HIS side of the fence. One day the top 10 feet of the hedge on one side was just gone! Cut down at the neighbour's request by their contractor because "she didn't like them". That 10 feet of hedge represented years of growth so there's no quick-fix! Imagine coming home to find that? The family was devastated!

Another REALTOR® recently shared a story of their neighbour holding their tree hostage over a driveway extension plan. Either he allowed the neighbour to widen their driveway (encroaching onto his property) or the neighbour was going to cut down all the branches of his 70 foot tree that extended over their fence.

So how can you protect yourself when you're buying a home?

If you're looking at moving into a particular neighbourhood it can be helpful to look at the demographics for the neighbourhood to see if it will be a good fit for you, at least on paper. When I'm selling a property I will often provide a Community Feature Sheet so that potential buyers can check just that. The percentage of households with children is usually of particular interest.

But that only tells part of the story...because you never know what you'll get with people. I've had clients who have asked me to check on the income levels of the neighbourhoods they were interested in, but how much money people make does not necessarily make them good people or good neighbours either.

Do some reconnaissance in the evenings or the weekends, check out the parks, talk to the honest with why you're asking & people will be more likely to be honest with you! Let's face it, you can only do so much...sometimes you just have to cross your fingers & hope for the best! We tend to only hear the bad stuff anyways & nothing about the thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of neighbours who co-exist peacefully together.

If you have a great neighbour, let them know you appreciate them! The weather looks perfect this weekend for a driveway party! Cheers! :)

Have a fabulous day!

Additional Reading:

Mediation Service in Peterborough for Neighbour Disputes

How to Deal with Bad Neighbours

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