Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moving Up to a Larger Home, But not Away

It’s not unusual for someone to buy a starter home and fall in love with the neighbourhood enough to want to stay when it comes time to get a bigger home. Moving just down the street is a lot easier when it comes to carting your stuff to the bigger house, but it can present other problems.

Whenever you buy a house it always has a few issues. Maybe the garage door gets stuck halfway down or the pipes rattle when you turn on the shower. More major problems are possible as well, but the minor annoyances are much more common.

The sellers should have told you about these problems, but didn’t. Maybe they deliberately kept them from you, but maybe they had just lived with the problems so long that they didn’t think about them any more. Either way, you’re likely to just fix the small problems yourself without trying to contact the seller. After all, hiring lawyers for small issues is likely to work out badly for everyone (except maybe the lawyers).

But what if the people who sold you the house moved just a few doors down? Maybe you see them every day just going on about their business as though it’s okay that they didn’t tell you that the garage door doesn’t work right. You’re much more likely to contact them about your new home’s problems in this case.

Now turn things around and put yourself in the shoes of the seller. You’ve sold your small house and moved to a bigger one a few doors down. As far as you’re concerned, the old house was in pretty good shape and you think the new buyer got a fair deal. But now the buyer is hassling you about some silly problem he should take care of himself.

So do you offer to pay for part of the repairs or offer to help do the repair? Or do you get a head start on a bad long-term relationship with this neighbour by blowing him off? Neither choice is very appealing and one of them will cost you money.

A possible remedy is to avoid ever meeting the buyer and avoid giving him your new address. This would probably work reasonably well if you move to another street, but if you’re just a few doors away, one of the other neighbours may let the cat out of the bag.

Of course, the longer it takes for the buyer to find out that you live very close, the longer he’ll have to work through the house’s issues on his own. So, a modest effort to avoid letting the buyer know that you’re within shouting distance may be enough to avoid any hassles.


  1. Interesting post...something to be mindful of for sure. Are you speaking from experience? Cheers.

  2. Financial Cents: This was recent experience of a colleague. I didn't get any good stories, though.

  3. Yes, interesting post! This happened to us. We were told the sellers were "moving to Niagara on the Lake". Turned out they were splitting up and hubby was moving in with a woman at the end of the block; we only figured this out a few months in. He's a surly so-and-so and we haven't gone to him with any of the house's copious (it's 90 years old) issues.