Home next door can affect ability to sell your house

Barbara,Clair Ramsey

Does the appearance of your neighbor's property affect your ability to sell your home? Over the years, we've been in many homes with many buyers, and we've heard lots of likes and dislikes. If you think a buyer critiques the inside of a home for sale, you should hear what they say about the outside of your neighbor's house.

A buyer chooses a home not only for the interior amenities, but also the exterior appearance. Your neighbors, whether they realize it or not, have a great impact on the value of your home and how quickly your property might sell. As unfair as it seems, buyers are influenced by the appearance of the neighbor's home.

For example, one common negative is the "blue tarp." We are not quite certain why blue tarps have become so popular as a universal outdoor cover, but the appearance of a blue tarp is never a positive selling point. An ill-placed blue tarp by an unaware (or uncaring) neighbor can quickly sabotage a sale. Granted, your subdivision covenants may not explicitly forbid the use of blue tarps as coverings, but the vibrant blue telegraphs this bold statement: "I will be the first thing you see when you look out your window! Not the mountains, not the view, not the trees ... just ME and only ME!"

Often when buyers prioritize their top-three potential homes to purchase, the memory of a neighbor's blue tarp or unsightly exterior increases the odds that your house won't be on the list. It's a shame we spend so much time and money on our homes and landscaping, only to have our property devalued by a neighbor's behavior.

While your neighbor's exterior may have many other visual negatives, the blue tarp is one that is easily remedied. A recent Internet search found that tarp color choices include white, green, silver, brown, clear, mesh and camouflage. Obviously, some color choices blend more easily into the surrounding scenery.

Talk to your neighbor and explain your concerns. If your neighbor is unwilling to spend the money to make a change, perhaps affected neighbors could give a more neutral-colored tarp as a gift. The costs range from $10 to $250 - depending on the size (10 feet by 10 feet to 40 feet by 60 feet).

Perhaps a touch of cabin fever combined with the recent late snow flurries motivated us to mention blue tarps and a home's exterior condition. However, as the snow melts and reveals the winter's debris, now is the time to take a look outside and see what you might be exposing to the neighbors.

Clair and Barbara Ramsey are local associate brokers specializing in residential real estate. Their column appears every month in the Anchorage Daily News. Their email address is info@ramseyteam.com.