Imagine for a moment that you’re a real estate agent with a client who’s buying a house. You spend valuable hours arranging a title search, having an inspection done, and haggling over which repairs the seller will perform. You spend additional time negotiating a price. Two days before the deal is set to close, you’re standing behind the house with your client, taking one last look. What’s the worst thing that could happen at this point?
That’s right. The next-door neighbor steps out onto his deck with a big ass gun and stares menacingly at your client. There’s no way of negotiating around that. Replacing the hot water heater no longer has any value to your client. Your deal is toast.
I thought of this after reading about a dispute between neighbors in Kentucky. Some guy was in his yard, using a B-B gun to scare off rabbits that were threatening his garden. At which point his neighbor stepped onto his own deck with an AK 47. He loaded a clip into the weapon and then shouted “If you’re gonna hunt, hunt men.”
And we wonder why the neighborhood block party is a passing phenomenon?
At this point a rational person sells his house. But here’s the rub – the agent for the seller isn’t gonna come clean with the new buyer. She’s not going to say “It’s an adorable two-bedroom bungalow with oil heat and, uh, a heavily armed neighbor who might shoot you.” Not a chance; she’d sink her own deal.
In buying a house, unknown neighbors are the hidden wild-card. Sellers aren’t required to disclose the sketchy dude living next door. So you’re on your own. In this age of media-fueled paranoia, there’s a lot of people out there who are weaponed-up to defend against attacks on their property from imaginary foes. And you don’t want to be that faux-foe.
However, this presents a great business opportunity for an intrepid entrepreneur. You set up a company called NutjobNeighbor.com. You hire a bunch of interns to work at your “dynamic new web research company” (in this economy there’s no need to pay people; experience and a letter of recommendation are now sufficient). These people scan news sites, especially the local ones, looking for incidents like The Bunny Defender. And they enter the addresses into a searchable database.
Some guy pulls a knife on a neighbor because the neighbor’s hedge is encroaching on his property, violating his sovereignty? Into the database he goes. A guy’s home-defending pit-bulls maul a neighbor to within an inch of their life? Duly noted.
So you sell subscriptions to your database. Home buyers would gladly pay for a month or two to avoid living next to The Bunny Defender. But the real money would come from agents who represent buyers. They’d gladly pay the annual rate to avoid watching hours upon hours of work go down the toilet.