Love Thy Neighbor…Or Not

Hey, want to see your house value plummet faster than, well, the national housing market decline? Then start logging nasty comments on Rotten Neighbor, the national website where you can post nice and not-so-nice blurbs about the people next door.

Launched in July of 2007, the premise of Rotten Neighbor is “helping you find troublesome neighbors before you sign the paperwork on your new house, condo or apartment.”

So how do people in the Greater Hartford area feel about their neighbors? After searching a few Hartford area towns and finding no real substantive comments (well, one person did call for the Harford Civic Center to be bulldozed), either most people in the area have never heard of Rotten Neighbor, or most people don’t care to participate on Rotten Neighbor.

Personally, I think the premise of Rotten Neighbor is flawed because I believe they under estimate the willingness of homeowners actually telling you about their bad neighbors. Here are my thoughts…

1. Who wants to confront their neighbor via the World Wide Web? If you’re having an issue with a neighbor, wouldn’t you want to have a personal discussion with them, rather than posting inflammatory comments on an uncontrolled form of media? And if having a discussion didn’t work, wouldn’t you contact the local authorities next (zoning, police, etc.) in order to try and improve the situation?

2. People understand that “bad neighbors” will have a negative impact on the value of their home. Logically, they will probably not want to advertise this to the world and will try to deal with it privately.

3. If you have a “bad neighbor” that doesn’t maintain their yard or the exterior of their home (which will have a direct impact on the value of your home), the potential home buyer doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

4. The website name doesn’t really advertise the fact that it’s okay to post positive comments about your neighbors. Wouldn’t this be a better overall concept? Tell people about the block parties you have, the neighborhood tag sale, your community fundraisers, etc. Think, community building rather than community destroying.

Bottom line, if you’ve got what you would consider a “rotten neighbor,” talk with them civily about what is bothering you and stick to the facts (“you have 4 unregistered cars up on blocks in your yard…”). The goal should be to improve the neighborhood, not divide it.