Abandoned homes can be an unpleasant sight. Over-grown lawns, boarded windows, sagging gutters, and unsightly mold – not to mention, a higher risk of fires, vandalism, rodents, and mosquitoes.
Properties are often left to deteriorate while in foreclosure limbo; the owner is already gone but the bank can’t take possession until the foreclosure process is finalized.
So what happens when you have to sell the property next door? According to research by the Center for Responsible Lending, foreclosures will affect 191.5 million nearby homes by 2012 and reduce property values of these homes by $20,300 per household.
If that neighborhood eyesore is bringing down your listing, here are some steps you can take.
Notify the Homeowner’s Association
HOA’s will pay to have the grass mowed and take care of maintenance issues, and then tack the expense on to the HOA bill, which will have to be cleared by the bank before the property sells, will fine owners for not maintaining properties. Whom should you contact with your gripe? Start with your city’s building division; it’s often in charge of making sure a vacant property is boarded and secured. The bylaw department can check for building code violations, the fire department can inspect for fire hazards, and the police can help if there’s vandalism.
Make Property Boundaries Clear
On the outside, fences make good neighbors; so does landscaping with arborvitae shrubs – a fast fix worth the investment. Inside, use plantation blinds turned down so the light comes in but the view does not.
Help With Cleanup
Stepping in to help with the maintenance can be tricky. Regardless of your good intentions, your actions could be considered trespassing. First figure out who owns the property, which can be a challenge in itself, and then offer your assistance. Some cities and counties have started a vacant property registration that makes it easier to locate the owner.