Buying a home is one of the biggest investments a person can make in their lifetime. Therefore, it’s important for potential buyers to do as much research and due diligence on the property as possible before they make a decision. But how many home buyers take the same amount of time and consideration for their potential neighbors? Most buyers are more concerned with square footage and bathroom tile than paying attention to who and what is next door.
Approximately 25 percent of home buyers said they regret not asking about their neighbors, while 30 percent said they wish they’d looked into the local sex offender database, according to a survey of 2,000 homeowners by mortgage information site HSH.com.
Only 16 percent regretted that their home was too small; however, roughly 40 percent of people said they’ve argued with their neighbor over noise, parking, kids, pets, danger to property and other landscaping issues, according to a separate survey of 3,000 people by real estate website Homes.com released last year.
An annual online poll ranked noise as the number one neighbor complaint several years in a row. Noise complaints include barking dogs, loud music, car and house alarms and domestic arguments.
To avoid getting stuck with unpleasant neighbors, here are a few tips:
Find out the names of your potential neighbors and do a little research. Check out their social media profiles, if possible. Check public records for any criminal activity. Simply enter their names into a search engine like Google or Bing and see what comes up. Keep in mind, you may not always find the most accurate or up to date information, but it’s a good way to see if any red flags come up.
Check online sex offender registries. Not only will this help you feel safer when making a decision to buy a home, it could help you find a home with a higher property value. A study conducted by Longwood College and Longwood University in Virginia said that registered sex offenders living nearby can reduce a home’s value by 9 percent, and homes near registered sex offenders can take up to 70 percent longer to sell.
Make sure the property line in the deeds of your future home matches up with the actual property line, says Robert W. Zierman, a Seattle-based lawyer. Not many homeowners are familiar with “adverse possession,” but it is the legal grounds on which a neighbor can claim “continuous, exclusive, open and notorious” use of your land if he or she has done so for a period of time. If there has been unlawful use of land for many years, the neighbor may be able to claim ownership in some states.