Seder & Chandler, LLP
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Off property factors can influence residential real estate sales


It is a fear that many Massachusetts homeowners face. Their friendly neighbors decide to move out and they put their home up for sale. Homeowners all around the newly offered property begin to wonder just who will move in and how those new residents' behaviors will impact their community.

In the residential real estate field, experts call off-property nuisances like loud dogs and unmaintained yards "external obsolescence." External obsolescence can cause big problems for surrounding property owners as such factors can bring down the valuation of properties affected by the annoyances.

Experts state that while in some cases the idea of what constitutes external obsolescence is changing over time, in some instances of the depreciating factor cannot be detected from simply visiting a neighborhood. In one case, a prospective buyer declined to purchase an available home because he found through satellite imagery that it sat near an industrial facility that was not visible from the actual home.

In this era of readily-available information, it can be hard for home owners to keep ahead of prospective buyers who can investigate properties without ever visiting them. While in some cases home sellers are required to note particular nuisances on their offer documentation, a lack of disclosure on other external obsolescence matters may be legal but pointless as buyers will likely discover the issues on their own.

For sellers who hope to preserve their properties' values, experts recommend working with other people in the neighborhood to set a standard of expectations for all properties. Noting that in some cases people simply cannot afford to make necessary improvements to keep their properties up to their best, working with others can help neighborhoods come together to support all owners and improve property values for everyone.

Source: Forbes, "External Obsolescence Devalues Property," Crissinda Ponder, July 31, 2013

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