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October 11th, 2006
03:38 pm


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Our House

Forest Hills, Queens, October 11, 2006 - As of today we've been saying "can you believe we've been in our house for (insert appropriate amount of time) already?" for five years.

We sort of bought the house on a whim - we were just randomly walking through the Gardens back in May 2001, when we came across this open house. I love going to open houses, and Sue sometimes indulges me. The house was a wreck inside - floors were full of carpet staples and needed redoing, ugly-ass moldy wallpaper needed destroying, bathrooms and kitchens needed gutting, some extra stoves needed removing - but it was bigger than any other townhouse we had seen in the area thus far. I saw the potential in the place, and was pretty much sold when we reached the roof deck. Sue was more skeptical, but we went home, ran the numbers, saw that we could indeed afford it, and somehow I convinced her that we should make an offer.

This was in June. Our offer was accepted, then the pain started. The inspection found termite damage and asbestos. A two-foot extension to the garage was found to have been done without any permits. They knocked a hole in the wall to remove the third-floor stove/sink unit, then hemmed and hawed about fixing it...

Well, the termite damage was old and non-threatening, but the asbestos removal was done half-assedly by some random guy the real estate agent hired. We had to find someone to do that professionally. They eventually fixed the hole, thankfully *after* we discovered that while knocking the hole in the wall, they also disconnected a bathroom sink drain so that it drained into nowhere. They fixed that, too. And they gave us some money to figure out how to get the garage extension grandfathered in (which we actually haven't done yet. It won't come up until we try to sell the place...)

There's more, but you get the picture - the experience was quite unpleasant. So much so that Sue cried and wanted to back out nearly every day. It didn't help that the real estate guy was a lying slimy bastard. *And* he had the audacity to keep bugging us to rent him our garage for his car.

But we persevered, and we *finally* set a closing date for September 12, 2001... which was, of course, pre-empted. We rescheduled for October 11, and four hundred or so signatures later, we were the proud owners of a whole lot of debt.

It's funny to recall just how unhappy we were; five years later, we can laugh about it while sitting in our living room enjoying a bottle of wine, knowing we made the right decision. And then we remember that we really do need new windows...


(Yay! 4 comments! | Please leave a comment!)

[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)

This (not very old) House

Sigh, I so know the feeling, roof leaking (insured, then fixed), siding falling off the house (fixed at vast expense), windows replaced (you'll be soooo happy - try and get a skylight that opens), outside painted, inside painted, baseboarded, crown moulded, "while you are at it" $5,000, er, $7,000, ummmm, $9,000 stair redo, new deck, and now new retaining wall. Oh, and the hot tub...

But I'm still happy!!!

(The 1907 house I manage has about the same repair, replacement bill after 100 years that the 1980 house does. Good olde modern craftmanship.
[User Picture]
Date:October 12th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)

Re: This (not very old) House

Our house dates from 1927 and there are strict exterior architecture regulations in the neigborhood. Meaning that gutters have to be expensive copper, roof tiles have to be replaced with tiles that aren't made anymore, and windows are about a thousand bucks each - there's no possible way we'd recover their cost in lower heating bills. So we'd like new windows, but we're in no rush. We spent plenty of money on our kitchen and bathrooms instead. Next up is fixing our garage so that the ceiling doesn't collapse on my car some night...

But yeah, we're still happy. What makes us even happier is that house prices have almost doubled since we moved in!

[User Picture]
Date:October 12th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)
Having read your story, I have two distinct feelings. Part of me is proud of your determination in the face of adversity. You hung tough, puzzled out the solutions and grabbed the brass ring. Kudos to you. The other part of me wants to throw down with you, along the lines of, "so you think YOUR real estate agent was sleazy..."

But that a story for another time...
[User Picture]
Date:October 12th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
As bad as the guy was (I still can't believe that, as we looked around to see half-removed asbestos hanging from the basement ceiling, he lied to our faces by telling us that they got a professional to do the removal, and then couldn't understand why we seemed bothered...), I'm scared to think that there are real-estate agents who are much worse. And I'm sure there are...

What's most sad is that the guy got tens of thousands of dollars simply for letting us into the house occasionally, while our lawyer, who actually was extremely useful, charged a mere $750. The city and state got a surprise cut, too - a few thousand dollars that they call a "mortgage recording tax" - but that's another rant...
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