In case you've been holed up in your home listening to O-Town CDs to remind you of the days when property "values" were going up 10% per year, we're in a buyer's market for real estate.

With home inventories at high levels in most parts of the country, buyers have a pretty good assortment of properties to choose from. If you're in an especially distressed area, your home will have to be perfect to stand out from the pack and find a buyer. And if your neighborhood is really distressed -- with families facing foreclosure or, even worse, homes sitting vacant -- the yards around you might not look to pretty. As Bruce Watson recently wrote, foreclosures have a way of diminishing the values of neighboring houses.

So what can you do? According to the AIM Realty Group Chicago's Blog, this may be the time to perform a mitzvah:

But don't just care for your home; care for the community. If you know that someone on your block is in financial trouble, consider getting the neighbors together and lending a helping hand, perhaps by mowing the yard or helping with minor painting and repairs. If your neighbor's place has already gone back to the lender, find out who owns it and make sure that the company keeps on top of maintenance. If it doesn't (lenders are becoming overwhelmed by foreclosures in some places, and some yards are getting scraggly), perhaps you could still make a pass with the lawn mower or plant some flowers in the yard - with the lender's permission, of course.


I know. It might seem ridiculous. Why should you have to take care of your neighbor's yard. But the fact is that if you don't, no one will, and that'll hurt your home value too. So put aside your moral outrage and be a good -- no, be an incredible -- neighbor.

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