[ecis2016.org] Here is how to sell a unit that has a next-door neighbour with a lot of complaints about the project
When Rafeeq Khan was roped in by the developer to sell an apartment, little did he realise that it was a desperate attempt on the part of the builder, who had given up on that housing unit, which found no takers. The first challenge for the Ghaziabad-based broker was to identify the problem, which turned out to be a hostile neighbour, who had issues with the developer. The neighbour was turning away potential buyers, by disclosing all the faults of the builder, the project and the given housing unit.
You are reading: How to sell a home with a hostile neighbour?
This is a common problem that many developers face, when there is a dissatisfied buyer next door. After all, a potential home buyer would definitely meet the neighbours on the same floor, if the given apartment is occupied. However, it was not as simple a problem that warranted an experienced broker to be hired on a higher brokerage fee than the market rate, after many other brokers failed to sell the unit. Consequently, Khan started his own neighbourhood research – information about the project, the given housing unit, the credentials of the hostile neighbour and reasons for the bad blood between the builder and the buyer.
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He found out that his client, the builder, had concealed a lot of information from him, as well. The neighbour had many issues with the builder, including some legitimate grievances, for which he was contesting a case against the builder in the consumer forum. Furthermore, the said apartment had two earlier buyers who had exited after paying the booking amount to the builder. One buyer had issues with the developer, while the other had some financial constraint borne out of a medical emergency in the family. The given apartment was, hence, labelled as ‘jinxed’ and the hostile neighbour had all the information with him that could turn away potential buyers. Furthermore, the said neighbour had the social standing that most of the potential buyers easily trusted his side of the story.
Brokers’ role in pointing out mistakes by sellers
“I told the builder upfront what his mistakes were. I had to also be careful in not making the mistake of the earlier brokers. When a hostile neighbour next door is otherwise a well-respected person in the society and professionally at a reputed position, it was foolish to try and defame him, in order to prove him at fault. I also told the builder that even if there is litigation, he should rectify the problems in the apartment that he was showcasing to potential buyers,” Khan recalls.
Disclosures that real estate brokers should make
Furthermore, this broker was upfront to tell the potential buyer before the site visit that there was a problem with the builder and the next-door neighbour. The Indian housing market is not as mature as the US market, where by law the seller is required to answer on the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement, whether there are any neighbourhood nuisances. If the answer is ‘yes’, the seller is required to explain in detail.
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Khan candidly admitted to all his prospective buyers that he was trying to get the issue between the builder and the neighbour settled. Hence, it did not come as a surprise to potential buyers and it was definitely not the deciding factor when a family really liked the flat and made the purchase decision. In Khan’s case, soft skills and strategy worked and the housing unit was eventually sold.
Tips for brokers to deal with a hostile neighbour
- Unkind words against a hostile neighbour turns out to be counterproductive.
- Meet the hostile buyer to understand his side of the story.
- Understand the legitimate grievances of the hostile neighbour when you have to sell the apartment next door.
- Ask your client (builder) to rectify the problems, so that disputes are not dragged to the courts.
- Be friendly with the hostile neighbour and make a personal rapport, even if this requires you to agree with his grievances, fair or foul.
- Be a bridge between the potential buyer, the builder and the hostile neighbour.
- Disclosure about conflicts between the builder and a buyer, could minimise suspicion of foul play in the minds of the potential buyer.
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How do neighbors affect home value?
In the worst case scenario, a bad neighbour could affect the potential sale outcome of a property or cause its value to decrease significantly.
What can you do about a hostile neighbor?
The best way to deal with a hostile neighbor is to mutually iron out the differences. If this fails, depending on the situation, legal recourse may be available.
Do you have to declare a dispute with a neighbour when selling?
It is not mandatory for a property seller to disclose issues that he/she has with one’s neighbours, to the buyer.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)
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