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Watch out, bad neighbors

August 05, 2007|Sam Byker

RottenNeighbor.com has been in existence for less than two months, and a cursory inspection of the site reveals it to be little used so far. However, the Web page has a powerful draw: It lets irate homeowners show America everything they hate about the people next door.

By entering an address and a statement of grievances, users tap into Google's mapping technology to rate their neighbors. Visitors to the site simply type in a ZIP Code to see a map, with every ratted-on neighbor in the area flagged in red. Addresses aren't posted, but zooming in quickly reveals the offending house. Complaints on the site include noisy motorcycles, unsightly yards and loud music.

For posters, truthfulness is important. "Nobody likes to be smeared," said June Barlow, vice president and general counsel of the California Assn. of Realtors. "If you say something actually false, there are some [legal] remedies for that." Also, by telling the truth about bad neighbors, users are essentially warning buyers away from nearby homes -- including their own. Altruistic though that may be, potential sellers should beware of damaging themselves more than their intended targets.

-- Sam Byker

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