Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Luck in Disguise

A year ago, my condo was for sale.

I'd been kind of pushed out. It was my choice to sell, but the reason I had to sell was that the other condo owners in the building had--in my view--made some unsustainable plans that would result in bills I could not pay. I'd poured a lot of life and energy into the building. So had Turbo. But in the end, what mattered was money.

I begged and pleaded--"Just repair the leak on the roof. It's only three years old. Don't tear it all off and start over."

They voted to spend. I told them we had emergencies all the time, to be more fiscally conservative. That a roof would mean permits, would mean the city would notice us and property taxes could be reassessed. Pointed out that the roof we had already might last another six to ten years, and that everyone who had bought in 2002 had moved on already in spite of plans to stay long term. Life has a way of changing your plans.

I didn't want to sell but neither did I want to be at the mercy of people whose good intentions meant a future filled with expenses every time someone spotted a crack.

I reckoned I had until Thanksgiving. If there was no contract on the place by Thanksgiving, I might as well get comfortable and start looking into home equity loans. Few people look in the winter, and by spring I'd have lost at least $20,000 off the value, given how I thought housing was going.

I got a contract on October 30, and closed on Dec. 13. I was homeless a few months, living in an East Village sublet. Then I moved to Cairo.

Through a former neighbor, I learned that after I left, the condo board doubled the maintenance. And then their wonderfully low taxes, last assessed in the early 90s, were reassessed.

And the taxes went up 400 percent. From $100 a month to $400 a month. The basement started flooding, the windows leaking, and they say there is some problem with carbon monoxide.

And guess what?

The new roof still leaks.


Don Hudson said...

Sounds like Karma smiling on you. You deserve it!

Stuart Moore said...

Yes, good move...and that's a pretty terrible tax situation. New York law only allows them to inch our property taxes up a small percentage per year, regardless of the reassessed value. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to afford our place at all.

And oddly, the guy we bought our apartment from is involved in state government planning...I THINK he has something to do with maintaining those property tax caps. So that's two we owe him.

Marc Siry said...

I live in Jersey and I WISH my property taxes were $400 a month. I guess that's the rub for living in a house instead of a condo :-\

Marie Javins said...

Marc--OUCH! I was looking at some small houses here in JC but I couldn't get past the property taxes. That is a bit of a gem though about NYS, Stuart. Always wondered why my property taxes on Avenue B were almost free.