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Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:23 PM   #1
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Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

As I've mentioned I've got a rental house for sale -- and the proceeds will be a significant part of my retirement. I've done a LOT to fix it up and even in this bad housing market people are coming out to see it.

Unfortunately, I also have a neighbor who REFUSES, despite my very polite request, to keep her German Shepard from prolonged, threatening barking and snarling at anyone in my back yard. I asked her if she could keep the dog in for a few hours during my open house, but she refused even to put it in the dog run at the side of the house to reduce the noise. "I don't want her in the house, and she WILL bark in the yard, but there's nothing I can do about that."

My realtor reported that people LOVED the house but were (and I quote) "afraid to death" of the dog, which barked for the entire open house. If SOME prospective buyers are saying this, most are probably THINKING it.

Her other neighbors have had all kinds of trouble with her, refuse to speak to her, but are not excited about signing a petition since they have to live with her.

Animal control says they will "come out and talk to her." But they've been called in the past by other neighbors and nothing has come of it. Also, I'm not sure I have standing to complain, as I live elsewhere.

Am I too worried? If someone loves the house will they buy it regardless? What can I expect / gently insist upon from animal control? Are there other avenues I might persue to get her attention and get her to put the dog inside / keep it from barking. Is this a subject for small claims court, etc.?

I really do NOT want the aggravation of rattling her cage -- but if she's damaging my chances of selling the house or of getting a decent price, then I have to do something...

Any advice is most appreciated.


NOTE: Please note that I'm not trying to fool the new owner -- I HAVE mentioned the dog in my disclosures, as much as it frosted me to have to do that, and the dog DOES do better when the house is occupied and people are regularly in the back yard. Also, while I admit that the "tranquilizer in a hotdog" idea has crossed my mind, I'd never do anything to the innocent animal. It's not her fault her owner is a jerk.




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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:34 PM   #2
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Complain, complain and complain until animal control does something.Tape the dog barking and give it to animal control. Do you have a city counselor/assembly person from your area? Call them too and complain. It really does help to get the neighbors involved but if you are enough of a nuisance there is a good chance you can be successful.

Do you have a dog barking ordinance in your city?

The big bad barking dog next door would bug me as a buyer, so odds are it really is effecting your ability to sell.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:46 PM   #3
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
NOTE: Please note that I'm not trying to fool the new owner -- I HAVE mentioned the dog in my disclosures, as much as it frosted me to have to do that, and the dog DOES do better when the house is occupied and people are regularly in the back yard. Also, while I admit that the "tranquilizer in a hotdog" idea has crossed my mind, I'd never do anything to the innocent animal. It's not her fault her owner is a jerk.
You could always bribe the loony neighbor to keep the dog inside when you're showing the house. Or, and this depends on how "trainable" the dog is and what "better" means, but if occupation makes a difference, go hang out in the backyard everyday for a week or so. Bring friends, kids, another dog, throw a yard party, play a boombox, whatever it takes to get the dog used to activity at the house. It's that or the valium laced cocktail weenies.

Complaining to the authorities might help, depending on exactly what local regulations allow. If you go that route it sounds like you will need to take Martha's advice and be extremely persistent. That works best when you spend a little time to find out what the ordinance allows. If you make it easy for someone at the city to blow off your complaint they will take that advantage. If you start talking to dept heads and elected officials wanting to know why ordinance 99-0923 is not being properly enforced, and give them some proof of how it is being violated, the order will come down from on high to go take care of the problem.

If you choose the complaint route you just have to make it so the people enforcing the law see constantly explaining to their bosses why they can't fix the problem is a bigger hassle than taking care of the problem.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:49 PM   #4
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

I rather like the bribe idea, since you won't have the house for long term. If bribing doesn't work, then pull out the big guns.

Also, some communities have mediation programs for addressing neighbor disputes.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:50 PM   #5
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
My realtor reported that people LOVED the house but were (and I quote) "afraid to death" of the dog, which barked for the entire open house. If SOME prospective buyers are saying this, most are probably THINKING it.
Wusses! Probably the same folks who would be put off by a meth lab or crack house next door. What are they thinking??

Ha
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:51 PM   #6
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

While I can see how frustrating this is, I actually find myself siding with your neighbor from what I have read.

Your neighbor's interest is to have someone move in that won't complain about the dog, and by keeping the dog out during your open houses they are furthering their own goals... they are probably filtering out people who would be annoyed by the dog. And in some sense this is a good thing for the neighborhood... getting compatible neighbors is in everyone's interest. Hiding the dog for the open house does seem a bit deceiptful... The barking dog might even be something that you would be legally required to disclose to buyers (I am not sure).

Noise control laws are crafted to protect residents not property values. Unless you have a history of complaints, why should animal control act on your behalf now that you have decided to move away.

If the noise was bothersome to you, then you should have complained vigorously when you were living there. The fact that you are only pursuing this vigorously now indicates that your concern is really the money you will lose by not selling quickly.

How about offering the neighbor some money to keep the dog inside. Say $100 per open house. That might get everyone's needs met.

I realize I'm in a bit of a cynical mood, so take this note with that caveat.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:58 PM   #7
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by free4now
While I can see how frustrating this is, I actually find myself siding with your neighbor from what I have read.

Your neighbor's interest is to have someone move in that won't complain about the dog, and by keeping the dog out during your open houses they are furthering their own goals... they are probably filtering out people who would be annoyed by the dog.
I don't side with the neighbor at all. Dogs are not meant to be left outside to bark incessantly. The dog was not a big problem before, but it is a problem now. Caroline has the right to complain.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 03:58 PM   #8
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Wolf urine - or something like - spray along your fence or the area where the dog goes.

I think the smell frightens away the dog.

http://www.predatorpee.com/
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:09 PM   #9
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

As a dog lover, I would definitely complain and complain about a scary dog barking next door. No one has the right to disturb a neighbor's peace and quiet in that way. Please don't bribe the dog owner to keep the Shepherd indoors and fool buyers in that way. That's so wrong! People are making a significant investment; they have a right to know who's/what's living next door. I know it's their responsibility to find out, but you don't want to be complicit in any deception. You could be sued by new unhappy owners if it were proven that you bribed the owner to keep the dog away during showings.

I would take a short video as well as the audio recording of the vicious barking dog and show it to Animal Control or whoever and really get on that neighbor's case. Don't be nice about this!
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:18 PM   #10
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

I don't think that paying the neighbor to keep the dog inside is deception, because she is disclosing the dog issue in the disclosure documents. Also, the dog is especially bad at open houses because of all the strangers walking around in the yard. As Caroline said above, the dog is better when people are regularly around and in the yard.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:20 PM   #11
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Go out and get the meanest pit bull you can find. Tell the neighbor this is the little ball of hate. If you have a fence say you sure hope the little ball of hate does not jump over and "play" with her dog. No fence, say the same thing.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:20 PM   #12
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldbabe
You could be sued by new unhappy owners if it were proven that you bribed the owner to keep the dog away during showings.
She discloses the problem with the dog, it's just that the darn thing is unused to anyone at the house and it apparently goes crazy whenever strange new people are there for an open house. It seems that Caroline is saying that it makes the problem seem worse than it really is and it becomes all about the dog.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:26 PM   #13
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by poboy
Go out and get the meanest pit bull you can find. Tell the neighbor this is the little ball of hate. If you have a fence say you sure hope the little ball of hate does not jump over and "play" with her dog. No fence, say the same thing.
It sounds like the neighbor is a bubble or two off of plumb. Picking fights with loons or nutcases is not a wise course of action. My experience has often been that they have a poorly developed sense of proportionality, often suffer from a little paranoia and a martyr syndrome. Not the kind of person you want to play tit for tat with, because you find the more you ratchet up things the higher they are willing to go to match you. Escalation begets more escalation and eventually it turns ugly and everybody is in court.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:29 PM   #14
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas
She discloses the problem with the dog, it's just that the darn thing is unused to anyone at the house and it apparently goes crazy whenever strange new people are there for an open house. It seems that Caroline is saying that it makes the problem seem worse than it really is and it becomes all about the dog.
You're right. sorry I missed that point. Maybe she should leave a supply of juicy beef bones at the house for the showing realtor to toss over the fence.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:35 PM   #15
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
I don't think that paying the neighbor to keep the dog inside is deception, because she is disclosing the dog issue in the disclosure documents.
Wow, I didn't realize sellers were required to disclose neighborhood nuisances, but that is apparentlty the case.

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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:41 PM   #16
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

It might be time for some sponge and gravy.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 04:44 PM   #17
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
I don't think that paying the neighbor to keep the dog inside is deception, because she is disclosing the dog issue in the disclosure documents. Also, the dog is especially bad at open houses because of all the strangers walking around in the yard. As Caroline said above, the dog is better when people are regularly around and in the yard.
If you actively incentivize the neighbor into taking the dog in, aren't you blatantly misleading or deceptively minimizing the extent of the issue? Maybe a disclosure would give you a legal leg to stand on, but if the disclosure were full and adequate, why would you attempt to pay the neighbor to take the dog in? If it was just open houses, why would all the neighbors agree that they had a longstanding problem with this homeowner's dog?

From a hypothetical buyer's perspective, that doesn't pass my sniff test. If I bought it, had a problem with the dog in excess of what my opinion of the disclosure described, and then found out the neighbor was bribed into taking the dog in when I was evaluating the property, I'd be feeling pretty betrayed; the bribe just might tip me over into calling my lawyer.

I do empathize with Caroline's dilemma, but if I were going to bribe the neighbor, I might do it by offering to purchase the dog for $1000, the putting it up for adoption or whatever.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 05:01 PM   #18
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
If you actively incentivize the neighbor into taking the dog in, aren't you blatantly misleading or deceptively minimizing the extent of the issue? Maybe a disclosure would give you a legal leg to stand on, but if the disclosure were full and adequate, why would you attempt to pay the neighbor to take the dog in? If it was just open houses, why would all the neighbors agree that they had a longstanding problem with this homeowner's dog?

From a hypothetical buyer's perspective, that doesn't pass my sniff test. If I bought it, had a problem with the dog in excess of what my opinion of the disclosure described, and then found out the neighbor was bribed into taking the dog in when I was evaluating the property, I'd be feeling pretty betrayed; the bribe just might tip me over into calling my lawyer.

I do empathize with Caroline's dilemma, but if I were going to bribe the neighbor, I might do it by offering to purchase the dog for $1000, the putting it up for adoption or whatever.
Buying the dog might be a plan too.

Still, if she discloses the barking dog that is left outside most of the time, I seriously doubt the buyer would have a claim. After all, as both Leonidas and I mentioned, the dog is especially bad right now because of all the strangers coming in and out of the yard. But, nevertheless, point taken. Even if you would most likely win against any deception claim, you don't want a claim being made at all. You could say in the disclosure that you have compensated the neighbor to keep her dog in during open houses because the dog gets upset at all the strangers in the house and yard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
. . .that doesn't pass my sniff test.






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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 05:05 PM   #19
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
You could say in the disclosure that you have compensated the neighbor to keep her dog in during open houses because the dog gets upset at all the strangers in the house and yard.
I like that idea. And the best thing is that it is the truth.
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.
Old 01-15-2007, 05:08 PM   #20
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Re: Advice needed -- potential buyers scared away.

Years ago I used to have a problem with a dog that chased me when on my bicycle nipping at my ankles. An animal behaviorist told me that I should bring along exta good treats, like whole hotdogs, and throw them to the dog, who would shut up and eat.

If you have a laid back and cooperative real estate agent, it might be something to try. Give the realtor a pack of Oscar Meyers and have at it.
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