Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Home is Where the Heart Is (And Mine is Kind of Broken)

It’s been one week since we moved into our new home — what was to be our forever home — and I am legit depressed. We looked for our home for so long, and were — we thought — so careful and thoughtful about our choice. We’d heard horror stories about NYC real estate and we didn’t want to be another sucker/victim/fool. We sought advice from knowledgable people. We retained a really smart and thorough lawyer. We did a lot of homework. But, man, we were really conned. This goes beyond just mold in the walls — which is a pretty easy fix — or regular headaches homeowners have to deal with. We were lied to, cheated, and taken for a ride, and it sucks. We don’t even know the extent of the con or how much it’s going to cost us (in money, time, our sanity). I don’t know if we’re going to stay in this home or in this city. Everything I thought was finally settled is now totally unsettled again and it’s… well, it’s a very unsettling feeling. Ugh.

I’d been writing this post in my head for a couple of months. It was supposed to be about how the girl who moved 22 times (or maybe it was 21 – I lost count), finally found a place to stay put. It was going to be about my love for New York City and my gratitude over getting to make this my home, the place where I’ll raise my kids, grow old if I’m lucky. And even a few days ago, I thought that was the story. Despite our kids’ bedroom still being uninhabitable and all their stuff stacked in boxes in the hallway and workmen in our space all day, every day since we moved in, I was happy. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We made it. Almost. We’d moved in, anyway. But then in the last couple of days, more bad news. It just keeps coming. And the worst part is feeling so foolish about being excited in the first place. Like, who did I think I was to get a place so nice in my dream neighborhood, in my dream city? I didn’t earn that or deserve that — I just got lucky. I thought. But the luck has not been all good. Much of it has been really bad. And I am on eggshells that it’s going to get worse.

There are lessons here to be learned — not just about NYC real estate law and practices — but about human nature, dealing with stress in healthy ways, keeping perspective (we’re all healthy! we aren’t broke yet! we will totally survive this! I think!), keeping the faith in karma and the universe’s plan, and using something like this to strengthen a relationship rather than damage it. I am working to process this experience in a positive way, and I hope to share the lessons I learn — at least the relevant ones — with you eventually. With luck — and we need good luck right now — I’ll be able to share some of our home with you, too. I *hope* it will be our home. I just had the best little laundry closet built! But if it doesn’t work out and we need to move again, well… I’ve had plenty of practice doing that. Twenty-two times! Or, maybe 21. But who’s counting?

62 comments… add one
  • emeris December 7, 2017, 1:12 pm

    Wendy, I am so sorry to hear this about your home. This flat out sucks. I hope everything will work out for you and your family, even if it means having to move again.

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  • TheRascal December 7, 2017, 1:19 pm

    So very sorry to hear of your real estate woes. It’s all too common in NYC.
    A dear friend of mine moved into a brand new, luxury building in Crown Heights about two years…only to find out the developer DIDN’T INSULATE THE BUILDING. So, in addition to exorbitant rent, his electric bills were almost $1,000/month.

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    • Moneypenny December 7, 2017, 3:06 pm

      How the heck do they get away with something like that?! Does NY not have any energy codes?!

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      • TheRascal December 7, 2017, 4:59 pm

        NY does. And it has corruption. Shady developers. And inspectors whose palms can be greased.
        He ended up negotiating with the management company a lower rent to compensate. It wasn’t *that* much cheaper, but there were murmurings of a tenant lawsuit that scared the management into negotiating.

      • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 6:03 pm

        Yep, I *strongly* suspect the inspector’s palms were greased in our situation. Strongly.

      • JD December 11, 2017, 1:42 pm

        Ugh my mom just sold her house and inspector hell. He broke the blinds then put said broken blinds in the report…after using packing tape to “fix” his mistake. This was the tip of the iceberg. I have no idea how to ensure you have a good inspector but it is maddening to know some are being paid off, or who knows what, to deceive people.

  • Cleopatra Jones December 7, 2017, 1:22 pm

    Oh man, that sucks Wendy. 🙁
    Isn’t there something in your real estate contract that allows for refund/breaking of the contract (probably not the right word), if a home seller has been dishonest to the buyer? When we moved into our house, I vaguely remember being told that we had 30? 60? days if there was a major issue that the home seller did not disclose to us.

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    • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 1:53 pm

      In NYC, it’s a buyer beware market. Aside from taking the sellers to small claims court, there’s not much recourse for us. Believe me, if there were, I would be suing the fucking pants off those assholes.

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  • va-in-ny December 7, 2017, 1:22 pm

    Wendy, I am so sorry to hear about this! Can you say what specifically has happened? I know that there are some NY laws in place to prevent new homeowners from getting conned and the previous owners getting away with it! It happened to my in-laws’ neighbors, where the sellers did not divulge major issues in the home and left the buyers to discover them and deal with them – and, it was determined that everything had to be done to get the house in livable condition….by the seller!

    We’ve already discovered one headache with our new home. The sellers made a part of the house handicap accessible by removing the stairs and building a flat plank up to a side door. But, in doing that, they back-filled an entire area and planted some shrubs there, but it was done about 2 feet higher than it should be. Ultimately, it rotted out the siding of the house and the board underneath it. So, we had to dig out the garden there (and when I say we, I mean me and my husband), move the dirt to the backyard, and expose the foundation so that a professional can come in find out how far the rot goes. There’s a chance that we’ll have to totally rebuild the entire side of the house… and it SUCKS. Especially because we haven’t even gotten started on the inside so that we can move in!

    I wish you all the luck and good vibes I can muster. And, I wish karmic punishment on the a-holes that did this to you.

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    • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 1:56 pm

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear about your home headaches too. I hope there aren’t anymore surprises like that.

      In our case, yes, there were major issues that were not divulged prior to us closing on the house, and that the home inspector did not find (even thought our contractor said they would be plain as day to anyone qualified in home inspection). In NYC, it’s a buyer beware market and once you close, the buyer is responsible for the state of the home. It’s a painful, expensive, and pretty devastating lesson to learn.

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      • Kate December 7, 2017, 2:14 pm

        Oh no. I suppose there is some clause that makes the inspector not legally accountable? I hope not. How awful. I’m sorry.

      • Lurker Kate December 7, 2017, 2:58 pm

        Wendy – I’m sure you’ve looked into it, but just in case: if the home inspector was negligent (ie., missed something that reasonably should have been found within the scope of a normal inspection), you can sue the inspector for damages. Depending on the level of negligence, and depending on what was stated in your contract (ie., limits on the inspector’s liability), you might be able to get something. And even though it’s buyer beware in NYC, if the homeowner intentionally and actively HID something from you, that is still grounds for a lawsuit.

      • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 3:04 pm

        Hi, thanks. Yes, we are pursuing all legal recourse we might have. Our inspection in still under warranty, so we’re filing a claim on that, too. We’ve gotten good legal advice. Unfortunately, it’s not all positive for us. But, fingers crossed we can recoup some of our costs…

      • Lurker Kate December 7, 2017, 3:08 pm

        Definitely crossing my fingers for you. So sorry you’re dealing with this. <3

    • Moneypenny December 7, 2017, 3:09 pm

      Oh no, how awful. Good luck to you and I hope it’s not as bad as you’re thinking!!!

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      • va-in-ny December 7, 2017, 3:16 pm

        Thank you! I hope it’s not too far into the house that we only have to replace the siding, but time will tell. It just baffles me how people can be so careless about their homes. We’ve found several things in the house and we scratch our heads going, “Why in the world would they do that??”

      • Moneypenny December 7, 2017, 3:23 pm

        Oh totally!!
        My boyfriend’s house is a total fixer (was his grandma’s and has a ton of work needed on it). The most recent problem is where, at the back of the house, whoever installed the deck bolted the wood right into the stucco on the house. With just bolts. No waterproofing or anything. So a whole section of the area under the deck is water damaged and needs to be ripped out, replaced and re-stuccoed, and the section of deck replaced. Guess who is doing the work? Him (and me! ha).

  • Essie December 7, 2017, 1:26 pm

    Oh, Wendy, I’m so sorry for your stress and your disappointment. Especially after you and Drew were so thorough and so careful.

    Sending prayers for a quick resolution, good vibes, good luck, and internet hugs. 🙂

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    • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 1:57 pm

      Thank you. I guess we were not thorough and careful enough.

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      • Buzzlebee December 7, 2017, 3:43 pm

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that. I know that heart break and anger for feeling that you were conned.

        We bought in a 100 year old condo building that had done no maintenance that was not obvious on inspection and on top of all the expensive work required my husband was sued personally for his work as HOA president because of a bitter owner.

        I know this may not help you at all, but it helped me to remember that sometimes shit happens and this isn’t your fault. You did everything you reasonably could given that you aren’t a real estate professional and this isn’t because you didn’t earn a great home or because you messed things up. It’s a shitty that things that happen in life and you’ll survive it no matter how it turns out.

        Also, I like to think one day those shitty people will do this to someone who is a less reasonable person and karma will come back on him hard.

  • LisforLeslie December 7, 2017, 1:27 pm

    Oh man, I hope whatever is going on gets resolved soon. People can be really shitty sometimes. It’s stories like that which lead me to rent. Also that if I bought now, it would be a smaller space than I rent now.

    Good luck.

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  • Lianne December 7, 2017, 1:39 pm

    I can’t even imagine what could be worse than mold in the walls, so I am heartbroken for you. Hopefully a good lawyer can help. Sending positive thoughts out to the universe for you!

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  • Miss MJ December 7, 2017, 2:08 pm

    Oh, Wendy. I’m so sorry. That just sucks.

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  • TheHizzy December 7, 2017, 2:16 pm

    Ugh, hopefully you get this figured out. Maybe NYC is different then other places but I assume the home I bought in April isn’t my forever home.

    I hope things get figured out swiftly and you guys recover well. The perils of home ownership.

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    • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 2:25 pm

      Thanks. I’m 41 and Drew is 47, and we have two kids, so it’s not strange that we bought a place with the idea that we’d settle down for a long time and raise our family here. It’s not so much NYC, but our ages and where we are in life that made the idea of this home purchase being a “forever home” a natural step.

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    • ktfran December 7, 2017, 2:34 pm

      The husband and I bought our condo in May hoping it would be at least our 20 year home (or until are bodies are too old to walk up two flights of stairs home). We’re in Chicago. We bought close to downtown. I don’t know if people in the neighborhood are “forevers,” but we plan to be.

      I really, really feel for you Wendy.

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  • doing_life December 7, 2017, 2:19 pm

    Wendy, that is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry you have so much stress. You’re not alone in feeling disarray. I’m from Southern California and people are losing their homes and everything in them. I know it’s “just things” and life is more valuable, but it’s devastating to lose a home and all the heart you’ve put into it. You deserve to have the settled feeling after all those moves. Wishing you the best.

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    • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 2:23 pm

      I am grateful that my problems are small compared to those losing their homes in the fires in California! Hoping you and your loved ones stay safe.

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      • doing_life December 7, 2017, 2:32 pm

        I am not too close to the fires, but know too many people from or living in those areas.

        I know it’s not the same, but wanting a stable home is a real drive and I sympathize greatly!

  • ktfran December 7, 2017, 2:20 pm

    That blows! This time of year can already by stressful enough, it totally sucks that new house problems were thrown in on top of that. I’m sending you and your family good thoughts and wishes that a workable resolution is found.

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  • Northern Star December 7, 2017, 2:35 pm

    Oh, no. I’m so sorry. I have no advice, really—only sympathy. Best wishes moving forward.

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  • Kriskros December 7, 2017, 2:42 pm

    I’m sorry too Wendy! My husband and I bought what we thought would be a forever (or at least the next decade!) home last year and were also blindsided by what turned out to be the worlds most complicated sewer issue. It’s still unresolved, almost a year later, and many of the estimates for repair have been nearly 1/3rd the cost of the house (in an expensive housing market!). Home ownership has pushed me and my relationship with my husband to the brink of insanity. Countless hours on the phone with contractors only to be ghosted and meetings with local utility companies only to be told there was no help available. We still don’t know if we’ll be in our home forever either, but we’re alive, not financially ruined (yet!), and everyone is healthy.
    Best of luck to you and your family. I hate seeing someone else go through anything similar to what we have dealt with this past year.

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    • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 3:05 pm

      Oh, God, I’m so sorry. What a nightmare!

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  • Amy December 7, 2017, 3:04 pm

    I’m so sorry.

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  • MissDre December 7, 2017, 3:10 pm

    Really sorry, Wendy. Sending you positive thoughts. Fingers crossed something starts to go your way soon.

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  • Moneypenny December 7, 2017, 3:12 pm

    Oh no!!! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, Wendy. I can understand the desire to just have a safe space that is *yours* that you don’t have to worry about. You just got the rug yanked out from under you. 🙁
    I’m curious about what the issue(s) is/are so I will be interested to hear when you’re ready, and I hope you get some resolution soon.

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  • Moneypenny December 7, 2017, 3:16 pm

    As a tangential story of my own, I lived for 7 years in a condo that my parents had purchased, brand new, in 2008. Immediately after completing the project, the builder went bankrupt and out of business (this was 2008 after all), and the HOA (I think?) filed a lawsuit for shoddy work that had been done. Including (but not limited to) an undersized boiler (which caused the hot water to go out at least a dozen times while I lived there) and water damage, including in the units. Because the building was in litigation, which dragged on for 7 years, nobody could sell their units. My parents sold it for a nice profit and got out of there, and I don’t think any of the repairs have been completed yet to this day.

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  • AmacQ December 7, 2017, 3:57 pm

    I have been reading your website for roughly 3 years now but am not an avid commenter, more of a lurker. I am so sorry and saddened to hear about this news. It was clear from your prior posts how excited you and your family were for this move and I totally understand the feeling of having a vision for your life be completely swept out from under you. I wish I had some comforting words or advice I could give. I can tell from reading this website that you are a strong woman and I have faith that you will persevere through this trying experience. Best of luck.

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  • Bittergaymark December 7, 2017, 3:58 pm

    Oh no! What all is wrong?!

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  • Rangerchic December 7, 2017, 3:59 pm

    I’m so sorry Wendy. I do hope everything gets resolved sooner rather than later and you do get monetary relief (even if just a little) from some of the people who conned you.

    I truly hate the process of buying and selling a house. So when we moved to CO 2.5 yrs ago (and decided to stay) we built a house (it was actually cheaper as the builder would pay closing costs). We also thought having a new house wouldn’t have any problems and it would be years before we had any issues. Alas, we were wrong. A worker putting up shelves in the pantry apparently put an entire vertical row of screws into a pipe. We didn’t know of course for about 10 months when we noticed a leak in the crawl space. Thankfully, the house was still under warranty. When the plumber came in to replace the plumbing, he put a finger to the pantry wall and pushed and the wall caved in.

    I suppose there are never any guarantees, but don’t be too hard on yourself, really. You did everything you could. Best of luck moving forward.

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  • Dear Wendy December 7, 2017, 4:17 pm

    Thanks, guys, I appreciate all your words of comfort! I’m sure things will work out as they should; I guess I’m not too worried about that part. I just feel really foolish and like I should have been smarter/wiser. We thought we were getting such a good deal. And it’s true what people say : if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. I should have known better.

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    • Lianne December 8, 2017, 9:03 am

      You really can’t beat yourself up too much on this. It’s a lesson learned and will only serve to make you smarter and more leery of shady mother fuckers. I truly wish you good luck in recouping whatever you need.

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  • Sammebeth December 7, 2017, 6:16 pm

    I’ve been a long time observer and have even emailed Wendy about the site in the past but this has made me want to post for the first time.
    As a NY girl my heart goes out to you. Unfortunately things like this are a dime a dozen in NYC and it needs to STOP. Changes need to be made and hopefully will be one day! The horror stories I’ve heard can, like so many other things (good and bad), only happen in New York. Good luck, Wendy and fam!

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  • dinoceros December 7, 2017, 7:43 pm

    That’s awful. I’m sorry. 🙁

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  • Bubbles December 7, 2017, 8:07 pm

    I’m so sorry to read about this happening to you and your family. Prayers and good energy going your way that it all gets resolved quicker than anticipated.

    All I can say is that I too am from SoCal and big, beautiful homes are being burned to the ground right now. There was a story yesterday from a young family, the wife is eight months pregnant with their second child. They closed escrow on November 30th, moved everything in over the weekend, set up the baby’s new room since she’s so close to her due date and now everything is gone. Everything. The wife was in tears, but happy that she and her family are safe.

    Things will be fine. It’ll just take time. Reminds me of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (their home was falling down when they first moved in, but made it a home). Good luck!!

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  • Mylaray December 7, 2017, 8:53 pm

    That’s a terrible feeling. I also think it’s common unfortunately for first time homeowners, though your situation sounds quite bad. The first condo I purchased was really affordable for my husband and I. It was in a high rise that was finished 2 years before the recession in a new “live work play” area in town and was underpopulated. I loved it so much and I knew it was built upon a previous industrial area, but I didn’t know the extent of it. There are serious concerns of radiation exposure and lead that I decided to sell after only 2 years. We thought it would be our forever home. That area became quite popular and I was able to sell it for much more despite all those concerns. But I’m glad I got out. That enabled us to build a home from scratch after buying an unlivable home on the plot. Homeownership has been quite the hurdle and some days I really think we would be happier renting a condo somewhere. I wish there were more of an in between option. I hope all these troubles with the house resolve in a good way for you.

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  • FireStar December 7, 2017, 9:49 pm

    That is a super cute picture of your gorgeous kids peeking in your home. I’m sorry it wasn’t smooth sailing and that some people just suck. I hope whatever the issue is that it works out quickly with minimal stress and costs. I know what it is to have your life in upheaval through no fault of your own. And it’s not your fault if someone else lied or defrauded you. You did everything right from the sounds of it. A home is special but only because of the people living there. So where ever your home puts down roots you are already a lucky girl. Find whatever happiness you can right now. Maybe in some salted caramel shortbread cookies baked with your little ones and let the warranties and lawyers and insurance play out. Stressing won’t change the outcome but it will hurt you. You’re a tough cookie (clearly cookies are on my brain) I know you will be fine when the dust settles. We are all pulling for you!

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  • carolann December 7, 2017, 11:29 pm

    I am so sorry about what is happening to you Wendy. It is so f’ed up that there isn’t more protection for buyers!
    I have also lived in SO many places. (I have lost count.) I was feeling down that my husband and I at 45 & 47 hadn’t purchased our forever home and were still renting. I feel awkward telling people we don’t own our home, but with career changes and life changes we haven’t known for sure where we want to settle long term.
    I feel for you because I also dream of a forever home and finally feeling “settled”. I hate that I can’t modify anything or rip out the awful kitchen “remuddle” that ruined this beautiful 1930s house… but at the same time many major repairs have been needed since we moved in (almost 3 years ago) that we were relieved not to be responsible for. I would like to think that we have worked on homes enough ourselves. (we used to manage rental properties for a living) to know how to recognize problems, but the fact is we still missed a lot with this house. I don’t know how it got past her (our landlords) inspector. It seems like such a crapshoot and now I am no longer in a hurry to take ownership on. We obviously need a lot more in savings to fall back on. The chances of getting conned are just too high.

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  • Hannanas December 8, 2017, 3:57 am

    Oh Wendy, I’m so sorry! Good and smart people being conned by bastards is a terrible thing. But in the end, good and smart people will end up where they need to be. You’ll find your place, if not in your right-now home, then in your next forever home. Sending positive thoughts your way!

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  • Carol Hill December 8, 2017, 8:19 am

    I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. It must be so disheartening. You will get through this. Know that lots of of are thankful for all you do and are rooting for you and your family. This too shall pass.

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  • Portia December 8, 2017, 9:20 am

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that! Ugh, that’s terrible, and makes me think that everyone should get multiple inspectors before buying a place, as ridiculous as that sounds…

    We’re dealing with some of our own new homeowner woes now, though it seems like less than yours… Mostly external fixable things and nothing that makes it unlivable. Plus we accounted for a fair amount of work when we bought it, though we figured it’d be over a few years not a lot right away. We also almost bought a place a few years ago that had had a bunch of surface-level renovations on a 100+ year old house right before it went on the market and it made me wary. In hindsight, I’m glad we didn’t get it. And our last building had sued the developer for a bunch of mistakes (didn’t hear about all that until after we’d moved in and were dealing with some of the issues that were being fixed).

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  • rocketgirl December 8, 2017, 10:18 am

    Wendy – I am so sorry to hear this. I had a good inspector when I bought my house 2 years ago and still things came up. Foundation, wiring, etc, etc. I hope things get resolved in your favor and you can regain your joy in your house.

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  • _s_ December 8, 2017, 10:38 am

    Wendy, I feel for you. I got conned earlier this year, and I know how shitty it makes you feel. Like you, it was a situation I KNEW I had a good chance of being conned, so I did my research and thought I was prepared for all the tricks, but they STILL got me. It was small (minuscule!) potatoes compared to what you’re going though (only about $100), but afterward I felt like the biggest idiot of all time – I was beating myself up (figuratively), dissolving into sobbing fits. Like you, I KNEW to be wary and thought I was prepared, but I still got taken. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My husband just had to remind me, these people get away with because they are awful people who know exactly what they’re doing, and it’s their fault, not mine, that it happened. I was the victim of a crime, and I shouln’t blame myself any more than I would blame a stranger who was the victim of any other crime. Wendy, if it helps to think of it that way, you were the victim of a crime (even if NYC doesn’t technically define it that way) perpetrated by people who knew what they were doing, and it’s not your fault. Grant yourself the same compassion you’d feel to any crime victim.

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  • Dear Wendy December 8, 2017, 11:53 am

    Thanks, everyone — I appreciate all your words of commiseration and support. I just this moment got some great news — after many tries and hours of hard work yesterday, some leaks in the roof have been patched so that water is no longer coming into the wall on the kids’ bedroom (it was hosed at full blast for an hour just now and remained totally dry). The workers — who have been great — are about to seal the wall back up and *maybe* we can even move the kids into their bedroom this weekend — early next week, for sure (knock on wood). That’s one big challenge hopefully dealt with successfully.

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    • angelsiris11 December 8, 2017, 2:50 pm

      Great news!

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  • angelsiris11 December 8, 2017, 2:53 pm

    Wendy, I am so sorry you are dealing with this! I hear so many similar stories and it is just one more thing that makes me so angry how much we push home ownership in this country and make people feel like they aren’t adults until they own! People wonder why some don’t want to own and this is one reason -the time, effort, and money that you have to pour into fixing something that isn’t your fault. Owning a home is a lot of work, even when things are going well! Our society shouldn’t push people into doing it if they are hesitant (I could go into my similar other rant about having kids, but I will save that one).

    Wendy – I hope things can be resolved fairly quickly and you can start enjoying your home!

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  • Ashley December 8, 2017, 5:13 pm

    I’m sorry this happened to you, can’t think of anyone less deserving. This is insane people can get away with this. When my parents sold their home, they made them put a stopper on the tub, so it would be up to code. (This is in Texas) I thought that was such a silly thing to get hung up on, but there you go. I guess the fact is, so many people want to live in NYC and there is limited housing so, there is no incentive to be transparent and have protections for buyers.

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  • John December 8, 2017, 10:31 pm

    A hundred bucks says that within 2 weeks, you will be blaming Trump for this.

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    • Kate December 9, 2017, 4:44 am

      I’m not surprised this made you think of Trump, “John,” since he’s the king of extremely shady real estate deals, bribery, not paying back his loans, and having so much fuckery to hide in China that he’s made himself a kompromat Russian puppet and is destroying our democracy. Sleep well, “John.”

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      • Dear Wendy December 9, 2017, 7:03 am

        Preach, sister!
        Yeah, shady-as-hell nyc real estate developer with zero conscience screws my family over and you make a connection to Trump, John. I can’t imagine why!

  • AmokAmokAmok December 9, 2017, 10:37 am

    Ugh, reading your story makes me so frustrated. Why can people not just be honest and not screw over other people? I’m so sorry about your new house, from reading previous posts I know how much you were looking forward to moving in. Hopefully the worst is over and you can sue the pants off the inspector.

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  • Sarah April 18, 2018, 2:37 pm

    Ugh, why do bad things happen to good people (and vice-versa)?

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