Paper Money - Paper Tales

Thursday, November 16, 2006

You can't choose your neighbors!

Here's one from the Star Beacon, a local paper in Ohio. Check out the the part where Vicki Miller of Miller Realty suggests that a home seller might want to buy the filthy neighbors property and clean it up to enhance their own sale!!

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The old saying "You can't choose your neighbors" rings true when homeowners are trying to sell their home and a neighbor's unsightly property inhibits the sale.

The problem is not uncommon and could be costly to the homeowner, but are there solutions to the problem? The answer is: Yes. However, they vary depending on the community in question.

Zac Shadduck, of Saybrook Township, has been trying to sell his North Bend Road home for some time. He has been unsuccessful due to the mess on his neighbor's property, he said.

"My Realtor told me people call to see the house, but they drive by and see the neighbor's house and cancel their appointment," Shadduck said. "I just want to sell my house."

The modular home that sits on the acre of land next to Shadduck's, has no siding on the sides of it. There are several animals on the property including four dogs and several cats, he said.

"There are at least 12 cats that run loose all the time," Shadduck said. "They're in my mud room, eating my cat food. I'm chasing cats out of my house every day."

Aside from the animals, he said there is trash all over the property. Shadduck said he has gone to the township trustees and spoken with the zoning inspector, but the issue has not been resolved.

Gary Timonere, Saybrook Township zoning inspector, said he has been to the property and spoken with the owners and the property has been cleaned up enough to meet the township's standards. The county health department was also called to visit the property and Timonere said they did not find any violations.

"The owner took care of it as best she could," he said. "Mr. Shadduck has a good complaint. He's trying to sell his house. I wish we could pick our neighbors."

As far as the animals are concerned, Timonere said there is no limit to the number of cats a township resident is permitted to have, but there is a limit to the number of dogs. Township residents are permitted to have three adult dogs, anymore than that requires a kennel's license, he said.

The township will be checking the property every couple of weeks to ensure it still meets the zoning specifications, but at this point, the township has done all it can do, Timonere said.

Cities and villages operate a little differently than townships do. Rock Creek Village has been working diligently over the past several months to get various properties cleaned up. Village officials recently restructured and passed new zoning regulations. If the zoning inspector finds someone is not in compliance with the new regulations, a letter is issued to the individual, said Mayor Bob Schultz.

The individual is given a specific time frame to comply and if that time frame is not met, the mayor issues a citation. After the citation is issued, the village solicitor files suit in Western County Court, he said.

"For the most part people comply," Schultz said. "We're making quite a bit of progress."

A lot of Rock Creek's success comes down to peer pressure, Schultz said.

"If they see someone else cleaning up, they tend to want to do the same," he said.

Violations to Rock Creek's regulations include overgrown weeds and grass and exterior maintenance issues such as paint, he said. If weeds and grass grow over a certain height, the resident is ordered to mow it. If it is not mowed, village officials mow it for them at a cost of $50 per hour, which in turn is added to the individual's property taxes, Schultz said.

Ashtabula city has similar regulations. Residents who have old tires, broken furniture, wood, trash bags, etc., are warned to clean up their property. The residents who refuse to comply will pay the city to remove the trash. The weight, number of loads and man hours is all calculated into the amount a resident is charged, Ashtabula Sanitation Supervisor Dom Iarocci said in a Star Beacon article published April 15.

Vicki Miller of Miller Realty in Jefferson said the best thing to do in these situations is to work with the neighbors. She said the first thing a homeowner can try to do is buy the property and clean it up themselves, but that will cost the homeowner money and the neighbor has to be willing to sell.

"You always have neighborly disputes," she said.

Homeowners living in an area where something can be done should take advantage of it, she said. A neighbor's unkept property can have a significant impact on a person's property value.

"It could almost make the home unsaleable," Miller said.

Cordie Stevenson, of Price Real Estate in Andover, said Realtors can show the property, but there is nothing they can do about the neighborhood. It is the seller's responsibility to do what they can to have the situation rectified.

"We can advise the homeowner of what they can do to their home to make it more marketable," she said.

Stevenson said Realtors cannot give their opinions on a neighborhood to a potential buyer. It's called steering.

"We give out information sheets and they drive by and determine whether they want to see inside," she said. "Sometimes (the neighborhood) doesn't matter, sometimes it does. Neighborhoods are what they are."

When it comes to real estate, location is everything, Miller said.

"You look to the left and look to the right, if you don't like what you see, you leave," she said. "If (neighbors) don't care enough to take care of their property for themselves, they're not going to take care of it for you."

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