I'm very excited about this particular blog, because I think it's a very important aspect of the moving process that goes largely ignored by buyers and their agents. I do understand why, it's hard to really know much from viewing a home beside them. But, having said that, there are things an agent should do in my humble opinion. For example, if I'm showing a property and the neighbors are outside, I will ALWAYS strike up a conversation, just to try and get a quick gauge on what they're like. 99% of the time they seem friendly and great, but I have picked up on a couple odd things that I didn't hesitate to pass on to my buyers. For example, one neighbor I spoke to didn't hesitate to provide a litany of petty complaints against the seller of the property we were viewing. They might be legitimate - but it also showed me this person was likely a neighbor who will nitpick any little thing they don't like and that could easily be a nightmare neighbor.
Beyond that, there are some red flags you should be keeping an eye out for on your own. Look for these signs if you're worried about neighbors possibly driving you insane (and you should be):
1) If you're viewing a property and the neighbors come over and ask a lot of questions. Sure it might just be friendly. But that's a little invasive for people just VIEWING and common sense indicates they are really trying to figure out if you meet their criteria for a good neighbor. Often times these criterias are pretty specific, so be on the look out for neighbors asking too many questions when you view.
2) Their front curb appeal is nice...maybe too nice. Having a neighbor with a well manicured front yard is usually a great thing, but if it's absolutely immaculate, with everything from the lawn to the street in front of their house in perfectly clean condition, it's a safe bet they will be expecting similar from you. And naturally, this could lead to conflict if you don't want to mow your lawn 3 times a week and shovel every time a snowflake graces your driveway with its presence.
3) They have a lot of cars camped out on their driveway and on the street. This is a huge red flag in my opinion. Them dominating parking spots up and down the street is annoying enough, but the optics of seeing four or five crappy cars always hanging out around their house will get on anybody's nerves. I mean unless they are a bunch of BMW's or Ferraris...I would see this as a flag. Personally I lived across from an auto-aficionado once, and while I was suitably impressed by his motorcycle revving and muffler-tinkering covering up the sweet sounds of birds and children playing in the park, my wife didn't take well to it, nor did our sleeping infant.
4) This is more for condos, but I wouldn't want to live next to the president of the condo board. They likely are a huge stickler for rules, and while I don't advocate moving into a condo without respecting their bylaws, I can't see living beside someone who voluntarily is on a board to enforce those laws, be a fun time.
5) Finally, this is sort of the inverse of point #2, but watch out for those disaster backyards. You may think "I don't care, it's not my yard". Perhaps not for the first few months but we have spoken to a ton of sellers who start to hate looking at a neighboring backyard that has gone to seed, has broken stuff everywhere, or maybe where they like to store their boxes and boxes of empty beer bottles. Be wary.
Unfortunately, there are no real ways to for sure know what you're moving beside. Even if all the good boxes are checked, they could move the next month and you're left with the overlord of the slob universe. But it still is wise to do some basic neighbor diligence when looking, and we highly recommend you remember these five steps next time you look for a place.