Until they moved out, my old neighbour’s subwoofer shared my bedroom wall. He liked to play his way through Call of Duty between 9PM and 12AM every night and every gun-shot in his video game vibrated my sleep. Tara and her husband had to sell their much-loved semi-detached house in Leslieville because the next-door neighbour’s kids played 3-hours of piano scales every night, every note of which they heard through their shared wall. Michelle’s old neighbour had a giant pirate flag hung up, visible from her deck. That alone wasn’t the issue. It was the “pirate’s” electronic music in the wee hours of the morning that vibrated their shared walls and drove her mad. Mary’s neighbours have sex too loud, Sabine’s neighbours are slobs, David’s neighbours hang wind chimes on their back patio that chime all night long, Peter’s neighbours have a little dog that yaps all day (and night), Robin’s neighbours have a marital dispute that ends in the front yard more often than not, Lisa’s neighbours have an offensive sticker posted in their kitchen window that faces hers, and Greg and Stephen’s neighbours are, well, rotten beyond words.

These stories are all real. (though names have been changed out of respect for each’s privacy).

Sussing out the neighbours. One of the most important parts of buying a new home….but one of the most overlooked items on the to-do list before putting in the offer. I can’t promise that the following tips will prevent you from every single bit of potential neighbour annoyance, but they certainly might help you find out if there’s things you can’t live next door to, before you submit a firm offer.


Karyn’s Top Tips For Making Sure That You’ll Get Awesome Neighbours in Toronto Before Putting In The Offer (some of which she can help with):

(1) After you fall in love with the house (or condo) but before you put in the offer, knock on the door of your prospective neighbours and find out who lives behind it. (If you’re shy, let your Realtor do this). This is the single best way to find out whether you like them, or if they are the big score – the neighbour who has lived on the street for the last 25 years and knows EVERYTHING. I was recently at an open house and got the entire scoop on the street and who the “crazy lady” was from neighbours who came through at the same time as me.

(2) Ask your Realtor to check if any of the houses on the street are rental properties. If I could tell you the number of times I’ve heard a renter say, “who cares? It’s not my house!”

(3) Walk up and down the street. Get nosy! Look at the lawns, find out where garbage is stored and look over the fence if you can. Are they messy? If it looks like it, buyer beware. They’re likely to remain that way.

(4) If the house you love is a semi, get your ear up against the shared wall (usually by the stairs) around 5:00-6:00PM. That’s about the time you’ll hear how loud the family next door eats dinner and whether their kids like to practice riding the sled down the staircase that is shared with your wall. Likewise, knock on the next door of the semi you’re attached to, and ask them what they hear next door. They’ll be far more honest about noise through the walls than the selling agent and seller will be with you.

(5) Open up your ears! And your eyes. Do you see or hear dogs? A dog that doesn’t stop barking can be pure hell.

(6) Don’t put in an offer on the house you love until you’ve paid a visit there on the weekend. Look for RV’s and boats cluttering the driveway, junk cars and parked cars of party revelers.

(7) Is it noisy at night? Have your Realtor book a second or third showing at 7:00PM or later on a Friday or Saturday to find out.

If you do all this, buy your dream house and THEN find out your neighbours suck, I recommend going next door and meeting them face-to-face. A friendly encounter and finding out who lives beyond the door can make a world of difference in settling an issue that bugs you. If not, you know which Realtor to call to help you find a house with awesome neighbours the NEXT time around! 🙂

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