Q: We live in a Bay Area neighborhood where the value of the lots are now worth $2 million. It is time we sell and move. Custom-built houses are replacing family homes built in the 1950s at an alarming rate. The problem is our next-door neighbor. The owner, a retiree, has tall weeds growing in the side yard and backyard. To save money, he stopped the trash collection service. As a result, we have an odor and rodent problem. The front yard is in repair and the house paint is peeling. The owner has also deteriorated in appearance. We understand that selling a home with a bad neighbor will be costly. Will our house sell for 10% less or more? Do we have to disclose everything we know about this lousy neighbor? If so, the more we disclose, the more it will cost us.
A; It will cost you homebuyers — no question. It is hard to pinpoint the loss percentage, but it will be costly. Fortunately, you are savvy enough to discuss the disclosure aspect of this bad neighbor. Good for you. Homebuyers appreciate full disclosure before writing an offer. Conversely, lack of disclosure is the most common claim homebuyers file against home sellers.
Effective July 1, 2022, Assembly Bill 838 helps neighbors like you. Its summary: “Requires local governments to respond to lead hazard and substandard building complaints from tenants and specified other parties and to provide free copies of inspection reports and citations to the requestor and others who may be affected.” In its background: “California’s Health and Safety Code defines a substandard building as any building or part of a building that has specified problems and endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the building’s occupants. Examples of substandard building conditions include sanitation deficiencies (eg, pests, lack of water or heat), structural problems, fire hazards, and lack of sufficient exits (Health and Safety Code Section 17920.3 et seq). Additionally, lead hazards include deteriorated lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, lead-contaminated soil, or disturbance of lead-based paint without containment that endangers the health of the occupants or the public.”
If possible, wait until July 1 and file a complaint. The lack of garbage collection and peeling 1950-era lead-based paint are governmental red flags. Either way, hire a real estate attorney. They will help you disclose the bad neighbor and lead issues. Your seller’s agent should also call the legal advice hotline at the California Association of Realtors. Disclose how you filed a complaint under Assembly Bill 838. That will help your cause by boosting consumer confidence in prospective homebuyers.
Questions, concerns or inquiries? Realtor Pat Kapowich is a Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager and career-long consumer protection advocate. His hometown of Sunnyvale, California, is where he is based. Office Landline: 408-245-7700, Pat@SiliconValleyBroker.com Broker# 00979413 www.YouTube.com/PatKapowich