r.i.p. home sweet home
it has been a crazy few days, but let me run down the details for you: we made an offer. the owner made a counter-offer. we agreed to the counter-offer. our offer was accepted. THE DEAL WAS ON.
and then we had the engineer's inspection. our engineer was referred to us by our lawyer who has been a lawyer in brooklyn for 3988 years (and therefore has 3988 years of brooklyn-awesome under his big lawyer belt). the engineer looked at the house. he said a couple of things that were interesting. here they are in no particular order, but in as-close-to-verbatim verisimilitude as i can muster after this many drinks. call them engineerisms:
- whoever did the electricity in this house didn't know what the fuck he was doin'.
- my daughter's boyfriend knows that i am a crazy italian.
- this room is a converted garage? i doubt it's legal and if it's not legal, i bet it can't be made legal.
- you need a support beam in the basement. is the house going to fall down? no. is it sloppy workmanship? yes.
- whoever did the plumbing in here was not licensed.
- [his ringtone was "who are you" by the who. awesome.]
- that deck is probably not legal. and even if it were, you need to weigh it to make sure this roof can support it. me? i would have built it on pallets because you need to change the roof every 10 years. i bet this owner never changed the roof.
- sir, i cannot allow you to stand on my ladder because if you fall and break your neck, guess who is liable.
anyway, you get the picture. i had a client-crush on this man. he was good.
oh. by the way ... did you happen to catch something in the above list of statements that was a potential deal-killer? a little alarming, perhaps? did you? look back. it's up there. take a guess. if any one of those awesome utterances was likely to be the statement to make us ultimately walk away from the deal, which one do you think it would be? let me give you a hint: it wasn't the fact that he is a crazy italian. no. we liked that about him.
here's another hint. our lawyer read the engineer's report. so, naturally being 3988 years of awesome, he had a couple cogent things to say. these are few of his greatest hits:
- the structure in the back was zoned as a garage when she bought it?! people can't start converting spaces willy-nilly! they ignore zoning laws!
- what do you think happens if people ignore zoning laws? don't answer that. it was a rhetorical question. but you want to know what happens? CHAOS HAPPENS!
- who do you think your broker represents? she doesn't represent you! she represents HERSELF!
- if you buy this house i want you to sign a document that says "my lawyer told me this living space is not legal!" you'll never get financing!
so you get the picture. the garage had been converted. the garage had not been converted legally in the eyes of the city. papers had not been filed. and given a couple exceedingly arbitrary and ridiculous zoning laws, this house can officially not be made legal in the eyes of the city. therefore no bank has an incentive in financing us. they might not care, but they also might decide that the property is not legal enough to warrant their trouble. so. granted, this is merely a risk, but it is a risk we are not willing to take. end of story.
oh, by the way, here's a choice quote from the broker: "what's the big deal? i sell houses every day that aren't entirely legal! an illegal deck, an illegal apartment in the basement. nobody needs to know."
right. nobody needs to know until they need to get a loan. or refinance a mortgage. or, if the banks missed their property's imperfection up until this point, nobody needs to know until they try to sell it. and then NO ONE WANTS TO TOUCH IT because it's 25 years later and the real estate market is no longer 86 billion degrees centigrade in brooklyn and banks are looking for any excuse they can find to not proffer a loan and oh, my, isn't that interesting?, this property doesn't totally comply with city zoning laws. sorry charlie. NO LOAN FOR YOU!
so we told the owner and the broker yesterday that unless they could find a way to make the converted living space legal, we were walking. they said "ok, we'll try." and then. THEN ... THEN! mrs nice guy discovered today that the house was officially back on the market. it's listed online as we speak(easy). ugh. i feel awful.
do you know what it feels like to see the house you almost bought back on the broker's website? it feels like seeing the craigslist girl you had disgusting "casual encounter" sex with newly listed on j-date with a brand-spankin' new profile.
you feel hurt. you feel sad. you feel betrayed. you feel drrrrty.
moral of the story? if any of you happen to find a gorgeous house in brooklyn on the market with a funky little history as both an auto body garage AND an underground nightclub ... be forewarned that the city of new york does not consider that bitch legal. and, according to my lawyer and engineer, there ain't no way to make it legal. sign a contract at your peril.