Yes, you read that right. Having been in the real estate business more than twelve years, I am certain some homeowners think it's a great idea to do whatever they can to lower the value of their homes. The best time to do that is when your neighbor is selling his home, and this list identifies the best strategies:
1. Don't mow or weed. You don't want any potential buyers to get the wrong expectation that you plan to take care of your property on a regular basis, so it's better to not mow your lawn, or do any weeding, at least until the third agent has listed the property, or the property falls into foreclosure. You can sneak in a late night cut then. Better still, water nothing. Watered plants blossom and trees grow, and since you don't want to maintain them, or make anything look nice, better to let them wilt and dry up.
2. Do not plant any flowers. Buyers love neighbors with flowers. They smell nice, look pretty, and make the neighborhood appealing. Then, the second those flowers die, the buyers will be knocking on your door or calling the HOA and complaining about how the neighborhood has declined. You'll be fined, probably picketed, and given the "accidentally" dropped hot dog at the annual BBQ. Better to have saved the $20 in flowers that might have helped your neighbor sell his house.
3. Leave the garage door open all day. It's important to show potential buyers how well you play garage Tetris, and all of the wonderful things you've hoarded. The envy they feel will likely make them think they can't "keep up," and look for another neighborhood.
4. Move any car restoration projects to the front yard. Been planning to restore that '78 Pacer? By all means, the best place to do it is in the front yard. And don't feel it's important to contain the parts to one area. If you have a large front yard, use it all up. Old refrigerators and washers make great storage places for parts.
5. Leave your dogs outside, preferably where they can see any potential buyers, and ensure they start barking immediately. You want buyers to know you mean business if they come looking in your yard. It's also good to get them thinking they'll hear the barking 24/7, even if they normally don't bark. And, put BIG "Beware of Dog" signs around your property.
6. Make sure the 70% of trash that currently does get into the dumpster in the alley, doesn't. Like number 1, you don't want people thinking you're clean and set the standard too high for when they move in. And if you smoke, discard the butts all along the driveway and sidewalk.
7. Make sure your do the neighborly thing and tell them about every misdemeanor and felony that's happened within 5 miles of the property since construction, but make it all sound recent so as to not confuse the buyers. If you have a story about the house being haunted, all the better.
8. Tell them about every nick, scratch, and repair that's happened at the home for sale. Start off with something like, "Man, when that air handler fell into the attic that year, the missus and I swore that place was done for..." Great stories like that will be helpful.
9. Tell them about any "weird" neighbors. The guy walking his dog at 4 am, you know, the bagel shop owner. Tell the potential buyers about how creepy it is he walks around so early. Leave out the part about his job, though. Too much information might make you seem too friendly.
10. If you have large windows, install bars on them ASAP, even if there hasn't been so much as a newspaper stolen since 1982. Nothing tells buyers your stuff is yours and to stay away like welded re-bar across your picture window. And make sure one is bent. Buyers will likely head off to a neighborhood where more recent crimes have probably occurred, but they nonetheless feel more comfortable.
There are many more I can list, but that's a great start on how to lower your own property value. And when your home value drops, make sure you call your neighbor who moved and thank him for doing his part to lower the comps. And it's always nice to thank the Realtor, even though you don't think he/she did much to help.
David Roney is a Realtor/Associate Broker with Fathom Realty in Phoenix, AZ. He enjoys writing about the more humorous aspects of his job.