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Selling a house with nightmare neighbours | REM

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Selling a home that has challenging neighbours adds another level of complexity. But it can be done!

Jasmine Lee, a broker with Re/Max Hallmark Realty in Toronto, had a neighbour issue with one of her sales. “We had a listing and the neighbours with connecting lawns would never cut their grass and maintain the curb appeal. So, our seller clients ended up cutting the grass and maintaining the curb appeal to add more value to their listing and the way it showed.”




Jasmine Lee
Jasmine Lee

Angela Langtry, a broker at Century 21 Immo-Plus in Montreal, also had a listing with less-than-ideal neighbours. “Several years ago, I had an attached house for sale in Pointe-St-Charles in Montreal with neighbours who basically used their backyard for leftover construction materials, which potential buyers could see from the upper back balcony of the house. In addition, the soundproofing between the neighbouring wall was poor and we could sometimes hear the kids yelling and the neighbours arguing. We found a soundproofing solution and buyers who didn’t mind the junkyard, and got the house sold.”

In many cases, the offending neighbour may not even realize that they are doing something offensive. They truly may be unaware that their behaviour is affecting others. Unless safety is a concern, encourage the sellers to have a respectful and diplomatic discussion with the neighbours to see if they can come to a resolution that works for both parties. With their bottom line at stake, it’s worth a shot.

Jennifer McIntosh-Davies
Jennifer McIntosh-Davies

That is exactly what Jennifer McIntosh-Davies, a sales associate with Re/Max Realty Professionals in Calgary, did. Her sellers lived in a duplex and the people who lived in the other half of the residence had a backyard full of junk. McIntosh-Davies knew that in the current Calgary market, they couldn’t afford to have the home look shabby. They approached the neighbours, who were accommodating; they didn’t want to do any of the work but were happy to have it done for them. McIntosh-Davies told the sellers to add into their budget the cost of cleaning up the neighbour’s yard. Problem solved.

On the upside, what your sellers think of as obnoxious when it comes to their neighbours may not upset someone else. It may not be as hard to find a buyer as anticipated. For example, a neighbour with a yard full of semi-functional vehicles may not faze a weekend wannabe mechanic. A buyer who loves to gossip may not be put off by a neighbour who sits on their porch all day shouting at passersby.

Lee offers advice for what to do with a listing’s nuisance neighbours. “Introduce yourself to the neighbour and see if you can offer some of your referrals to help with the yard clean up. If they party 24/7, work on possible hours and days for the partying. With a nuisance dog, have a conversation about a solution for both sides. It’s about creating the win-win for all parties involved.”

McIntosh-Davies adds: “It’s all about spinning things.” By the time people are at odds with each other, it is to the advantage of the neighbour who is staying behind that the seller’s house is sold. McIntosh-Davies suggests talking to the neighbours and encouraging them to do whatever is possible to help sell the house, the best possible outcome for both parties.

We’ve all heard the stories of late-night partying neighbours and dogs next door that bark nonstop. But that’s just the beginning. These horrid neighbours, all real-life examples, could really put a kink in a home sale:

  • Neighbours who come into the backyard to hang their laundry on your clothesline
  • Neighbours who constantly call the police because you back into your own driveway
  • Neighbours who erect a pool – complete with a wooden jumping platform – in their front yard, bordering your property and the sidewalk
  • Pilfering neighbours who steal from your garden
  • Hoarders whose piles of stuff encroach on your property
  • Neighbours who slash your tires
  • Neighbours who install barbed wire on the top of your shared fence
  • Neighbours who dig trenches to undermine the foundation of your garage

Langtry shares her thoughts on what to do about troublesome neighbours: “I would advise the agent or seller to speak with the neighbours and/or landlord of the neighbours, if rented. Century 21 has discounts with 1-800-Got-Junk who can clean up the yard (if the neighbour agrees). The agent or seller could offer to pay to remove the debris. Police can be called for noise disturbances, especially after 11 p.m. Either way, be fully transparent with potential buyers about the situation. For the right price and at the right time, a buyer will come along that will be willing to tolerate or deal with it. There is a solution to every problem, and a good Realtor is a great problem solver.”

But use caution when interacting with questionable neighbours. This summer, an agent in Pelham, Ont. was confronted by a nightmare neighbour while conducting a showing. The neighbour approached them brandishing a gun. The agent immediately got himself and the prospective buyers to safety and called the police. It turned out to be an airsoft gun, although it looks like the real thing. The neighbour was charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, among other things.

In January, a Kelowna, B.C. man was so fed up with his bullying neighbour that he decided to put his house on the market. He staked a sign on his front yard that read “Home for Sale by Owner Because Neighbour is an A**hole.” Despite the sign, the family received multiple offers on the house, giving hope to the rest of us that even the most horrific neighbours won’t kill a deal.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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Real Estate

10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

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Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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