Why Buyers Should Talk to their Sacramento Neighbors

talk to the neighborsIf you think your neighbors don’t matter when you buy a home in Sacramento — or anywhere for that matter — think again. I could not imagine a smart person buying a home in a neighborhood without talking to the neighbors and, perhaps, even asking the neighbors what they think about each other. Some people love to gossip.

My parents didn’t do that when I was growing up. They bought a home and did not talk to the neighbors in 1955 in a brand new subdivision called Heritage Homes, located in the Village of Circle Pines, an isolated area at the time about 15 minutes outside of Minneapolis. Our neighbors, the Palmquists — I vividly recall those horrid people and their hoard of little brats to this day — were absolutely unbearable. Apart from letting their lawn die, throwing trash all over the yard — such an eyesore — and their screaming, yelling and drunken brawls at all hours of the night, the kids were hoodlums who would steal toys in bright daylight right out of our yard. One of the Palmquist kids stuck a water hose into my bedroom window and turned it on full blast.

To try to put a stop to this kind of behavior, I stuffed one of the little Palmquist girls into my red wagon and pulled her out into the field across the street. A field that was converted into an ice rink in the winter but in the summer was blanketed with stickers. After a stern lecture and warning, I removed her shoes, dumped her in the field and left.

Fortunately, the neighbors on my street of homes in Land Park are wonderful. We stop when we see each other outside and talk. It’s a quiet street with very little traffic, only a block long. It’s rare for anybody who doesn’t live here to walk down our street or drive by. It’s like an oasis. There were a couple of neighbors whom some people didn’t much care for and they moved away.

Neighborhoods can change. We’ve been lucky throughout the ups and downs of the Sacramento real estate market that we’ve had only one short sale on our street. Imagine the economic make-up of areas where everybody paid half a million or more for their homes and those very homes are now worth $200,000 or so. That’s assuming, of course, that those individuals who overpaid could afford it at the time they bought.

One of my clients, a seller who had owned a home in an upscale community of million-dollar homes, recently closed escrow. Homes in that neighborhood are now selling around $400,000. He held a liquidation sale the last few days of his occupancy, and some of his neighbors who served on the board of his HOA showed up and tried to stop him from having the sale. They even sent security guards over to his house to stop the sale. They videotaped his wife screaming at their rude behavior, such a mild mannered and sweet woman otherwise. This is what neighbors can do.

You’re not just buying a home; you’re buying a neighborhood. Talk to the neighbors before buying a home.

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