Bad neighbor experiences help influence home choices

People were likely to have previous experiences with an irritating neighbor on their mind when searching for their next home, according to a recent survey.

Ally Home, the direct-to-consumer mortgage arm of Ally Bank, polled 2,012 American adults in October to ask them about the qualities they liked and disliked in neighbors. Three-quarters of respondents said they considered neighbors when choosing their home, and more than half said they had had a "nightmare neighbor" in the past. Sixty-seven percent said a bad experience with a resident next door had made them realize the importance of good neighbors.

"With this survey, we sought to discover whether the idyllic neighborhood emulated by Mister Rogers was a reality in today's world, and how much the notion of a 'good neighbor' matters to Americans," said Glenn Brunker, mortgage executive with Ally Home.

More than half of respondents said they'd had a "nightmare neighbor" in the past, with younger respondents more likely to report this issue. Sixty-three percent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) said they had had an unpleasant encounter with a neighbor, compared to 38 percent of baby boomers (ages 55 and up).

Parents were also more likely to say they had encountered a bad neighbor. Sixty-three percent of parents with minor children reported such an experience, while the share fell to 44 percent among respondents without children in the household.

Forty-six percent said they disliked neighbors who were too loud, while 44 percent said they disliked neighbors who led questionable lifestyles such as engaging in illegal activities. Thirty-four percent said they did not like neighbors who didn't keep their home in good condition, while 32 percent said they disliked nosy neighbors.

More than half—55 percent—said they simply avoided a difficult neighbor. The share rose to 67 percent among parents of minor children, but fell to 49 percent among those without children.

Asked what they felt made a good neighbor, 71 percent said it involved taking good care of their home. Sixty-six percent said a good neighbor would be willing to help them out, 49 percent said they would want to care for the neighborhood as a whole, and 47 percent said a good neighbor would want to be friends with the people next door.

Overall, most respondents wanted plenty of space between them and their neighbors. Fifty-four percent said they would prefer to live in neighborhoods where residences were far away from each other, while just one in four said they would prefer to live close to their neighbors.

Previous surveys have reflected similar attitudes. In 2017, the home improvement resource Porch.com polled 1,000 people on neighborly traits they found annoying. Respondents were most likely to say it would be annoying if a neighbor intruded on the privacy of others, though only one in four said they had experienced this issue. Noisy neighbors were the next highest rated annoyance, and nearly half said they had experienced this problem. Forty-four percent said they had experienced a neighbor who didn't care for their property, but this was the second lowest rated annoyance overall.

The real estate site Redfin recently completed a survey asking people whether they would prefer to live in a single-family home or a triplex that offered a shorter commute. Respondents overwhelmingly favored a single-family home, with those who did so often saying privacy concerns would influence their decision.

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