What Makes a Good Neighbor? New Survey Reveals What Americans Really Think

Love them or hate them, most of have to deal with neighbors. Whether you share a fence or a wall, the people who live next door have the potential to make your life more pleasant — or make it miserable.

Thankfully, most Americans put their neighbors in the former category. A new survey by Realtor.com found that three-quarters of people believe they have good neighbors.

The definition of a good neighbor

Friendly neighbor

A woman bringing a meal for an elderly neighbor | Highwaystarz-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Being a good neighbor is all about embracing common courtesy, Realtor.com found.

“Trust and dependability plays an integral part in helping a neighborhood feel like ‘home’. Building it can be as easy as stopping by to say hello,” Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer at Realtor.com, said.

According to the 1,000 survey respondents, the most important qualities in a good neighbor were:

  • Trustworthy: 59%
  • Quiet: 50%
  • Friendly: 46%
  • Respectful: 43%
  • Clean/neat: 36%
  • Mature: 26%
  • Helpful: 25%
  • Friendship: 14%

It turns out you don’t need to go out of your way to be a good neighbor. Simply saying hi, keeping the volume down, and not being a suspicious character is usually enough to keep those next door happy.

These are the worst neighbors you can have

When it came to the worst traits a neighbor could have, those surveyed didn’t look kindly on people who ignored boundaries. Sixty-seven percent of people said disrespecting property was the worst quality in a neighbor.

Being loud was the second-worst trait a neighbor could have, followed by being untrustworthy. People also didn’t like neighbors who were nosy, messy, and unfriendly.

How to be a good neighbor

When it comes to being a good neighbor, the best policy is the follow the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Keep your yard clean, smile when you see people in the elevator, don’t throw huge, noisy parties all the time, and avoid being a busybody.

If you want to go from good neighbor to great neighbor, though, you’ll need to put in a little extra effort. Organizing a community service project, making an effort to socialize with your neighbors, and sharing important information with new residents (like the name of a trusted plumber) can take your neighboring to the next level, according to etiquette experts who talked to the Washington Post. Being smart about handling conflict is also the mark of a great neighbor.

How your neighbors affect property values

foreclosed home

A foreclosed home | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Having good neighbors doesn’t just make your life more pleasant. It can also affect property values. Problem neighbors – like the person with the overgrown yard or dilapidated house – could bring down the appraised value of homes next door by 5% to 10%, according to the New York Times. Living next door to a foreclosed home or a registered sex offender will also hurt your property’s value.

Sometimes, the bad neighbors aren’t even people. Living next door to a power plant could sink the value of your home by 5.3%, according to Realtor.com, while a nearby shooting range knocks 3.7% off your home’s price. A high concentration of rental properties is also a negative. People are also less willing to pay top dollar for homes near a cemetery, homeless shelter, or strip club.

But it’s being close to a bad school that’s the biggest danger to your property’s value. A poorly performing school nearby will turn off homebuyers with kids and lower the value of your home by 22.2%.

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