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Weaving Tangled Webs

I know it is tough to sell your house, I do!  But manipulations and omissions won’t endear you to anyone and may just end up wasting your time.  Latest case in point from my office:

A client of mine made an offer on a house where the taxes are under $8,000 (for out of area readers, that’s fairly low for LI).  I requested the Certificate(s) of Occupancy (COs) for the house for almost one week before meeting with my client.  When they finally were e-mailed, I noticed that the COs to legalize an existing second story deck, additional bedroom, and sunroom were all dated within the past six months.

When pointing this out to my client, I advised that the additional value added to the house by these improvements meant that there would be an increase in the assessment to be done this summer in order to calculate the 2010/2011 tax bill.  She would be well-served to meet with the Tax Assessor right away for an educated guess on how much her taxes would increase at the end of this year, just based on the legalized improvements.

Turns out the taxes will be over $2,000 higher, without the customary, yearly increases of 3-10%.  Yikes!  That’s a guaranteed increase of no less than $167 per month starting in December, and was a total deal breaker for my client.

It seems the sellers had held off legalizing the structures for quite some time, first being devious about paying real property taxes themselves, and then waiting until after this year’s tax bills were calculated before calling the improvements to the town’s attention.  This way, they could advertise “Low Taxes!” and be long gone before the new homeowner found out about the deception.  Or so they thought.

My client was annoyed and angry, but grateful to have not been fooled.  I was peeved myself, as I reviewed and negotiated a contract for a deal that eventually went south exclusively because the sellers practiced to deceive.

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