In San Carlos I think we’re generally blessed to have good and conscientious people as our residents. In the many years that we have lived in San Carlos, we have gotten to know more great people than I can possibly count. It’s one of the key things that makes San Carlos such a great place to live, and why I’ll be here for many more years to come.
This is important because in White Oaks and Howard Park, we’re often wedged in together nice and cozy on adjacent 4,000ish square foot lots. That means this (hopefully) conscientious citizen is now a very close neighbor. In spite of all the things we do to be good neighbors, when you’re living in close quarters like this, it’s inevitable that somebody is going to do something, albeit unintentionally, to make their neighbor unhappy.
It’s often something as simple as your neighbor putting a basketball hoop on the street next to your driveway. Or having a few too many late night pool parties…Or that the next door neighbor’s kid has aspirations to lead the next Pearl Jam. You get the idea. Things like these start off as annoyances, but can often lead to strained relationships between neighbors in the best of cases.
But this is NOT a lecture on how to be a good neighbor — it IS a reminder on what you need to do if you’re selling your home, and you’ve had to deal with neighborhood issues.
If you have bought or sold a home before, I’m sure you’re very familiar with the standard disclosure documents that are involved in the sale. With very few exceptions, the Transfer Disclosure Statement and the Sellers Supplemental reports must be completed by the seller. It’s the primary instrument for the seller to communicate any known facts that could materially affect the value of the home. The documents are pretty thorough, and lead the seller through an extensive series of questions that are intended to help the seller fully disclose any and all issues.
From my experience, sellers generally do a good job of disclosing all items about the condition of the home itself. But for some reason, whether it’s intentional or just an oversight, issues relating to neighbors and neighborhood conditions are often overlooked, or not adequately disclosed. Maybe the sellers forgot about the fact that a neighbor often works on his cars in his garage late at night, or that the street they live on is prone to speeding. Or maybe the feel that since a problem has been resolved they don’t have to disclose it. But it’s critical to understand that this lack of due diligence in disclosure often becomes a dispute after the home is sold, or worst case a lawsuit.
For sellers, after you’ve thought long and hard about everything pertaining to the condition of your home, do the same diligence with the neighborhood you live in. Be sure to disclose ALL environmental issues (noise, traffic, weather, barking dogs, neighborhood conditions) — even if issues have been resolved, be sure to disclose that, too.
For buyers, if you’re seriously looking at a particular home, spend some time walking that neighborhood at different hours of the day. Look at traffic patterns during commute hours. Listen to the neighborhood noise at night. See if you’re in the flight pattern of the airport. And if you’re concerned about any police activity, get a neighborhood report from the local police department — they’re very accommodating, and all you have to do is ask.
The bottom line here is that the more that you disclose about your neighborhood when you’re selling your home, the more informed your buyer will be when they decide to purchase — hopefully this reduces the likelihood of problems after the sale. In other words, if you can’t “love thy neighbor” make sure you disclose why…
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