Reader Question: I have a condo unit facing an empty residential lot which has a stockade fence bolted on top of an eight-foot-high concrete wall. My second-floor unit is level with the top of the wall and all of the fence. I believe the terrible condition of the fence and the fact that my deck needs painting is a big factor in not being able to sell. Would it be feasible to offer to pay for these improvements myself?
Monty's Answer: It sounds like your home has been for sale for a while. Here is an article about what to do when your house isn't selling at http://bit.ly/2Dp5j73. The first order of business is to determine the sale price and sale dates of the units with similar views of the neighbor's fence. This information is readily available through a real estate agent with MLS access.
The fence may not be an issue
There are many buyers who will rarely look out the windows. The size and price range of your unit, the demographics of other residents, the real estate market competition and demand all impact this decision. What was it about your home that drove your purchase?
Consider seeking two or three vetted real estate agents to gain opinions of value, and without mentioning the deck and the fence, ask them what they think you could do to increase the unit's marketability. If painting these components is not one of the recommendations, it may not be an issue. You could follow up with a phone call, or ask them on their way out the door.
More new information
You would need permission from the neighbor and possibly the HOA to paint the deck. Two or three estimates will be helpful were you to proceed. With all this new data, you can decide if taking the painting step will make the difference.
An HOA withholding regular maintenance is a red flag for buyers. If painting your deck is not your responsibility, ask yourself; Are my neighbors also living with an unkempt deck? Maybe others should be helping to address the neighbor, the HOA, and possibly, municipal ordinances. If the fence owner was reported, they might be facing a citation and order to repair.
A less desirable option is to give a buyer a painting credit. Make sure the credit reason hits the data sheet, so a prospect is not surprised during the showing.
Richard Montgomery is the author of "House Money - An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home." He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty, or find him at DearMonty.com.