Get an inspection before you buy an apartment in NYC
I have tried to hammer this point home, time after time after time. For the love of everything holy, if you’re purchasing a condo or co-op in New York City, make sure to get an inspection. It costs a few hundred dollars and can ensure that the unit you’re buying for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS is ok. You also will be able to find defects or issues in the home that you would have missed while your eyes were fixated on stainless steel appliances. And, to be perfectly honest, the broker for the sellers may not disclose certain issues (that they may or may not know about). Some of them, however, will be pretty upfront:
What’s that? Your broker told you that because you’re buying a co-op, you don’t need to get an inspection? Let me introduce you to the Rosenblaums. You see, Lee and Gail decided to buy a co-op on East 57th Street in New York, for what looks like about $800,000 or so. They were told, allegedly based on oral representations and marketing material provided to them by the sellers broker, that there was a “thru wall” air conditioner in the living room. So, they plunked down $90,000 for a down payment and decided to “Move that Bus!!” and buy the place. The problem for Lee and Gail was that there was no “thru wall air conditioner”. And the Co-Op said “no” when they asked if they could, you know, put in a thru wall air conditioner. So Lee and Gail decided to not show up to the closing and ask for their money back (LOL). They didn’t get their money back. So they sued. And they lost. And then they appealed. And they lost. And then they tried to renew and re-argue. And they lost. And now they’re out $90,000 and attorneys fees (cannot imagine) and we don’t know if Lee is sleeping on the couch these days or what.
Why did they lose? Lee and Gail sued based on a number of theories, but it appears the main one was fraud. Essentially “They told us there was an a/c here and there’s no a/c here and if we would have known we weren’t getting an a/c then we wouldn’t have bought the place. Not cool.” The Judge, refusing this line of argument, essentially said caveat emptor, which is a super fancy way of expressing “buyer beware” in a dead language because that’s what us lawyers and judges do. The court stated:
In addition, when, as here, the subject matter is real estate, the seller will not be held liable for the alleged misrepresentation, “if the facts misrepresented were not matters peculiarly within their knowledge and plaintiffs had the means to discover the truth by the exercise of ordinary intelligence.”
And further, when discussing the Rosenblaums prior case (similarly dismissed):
…the Rosenblums do not allege that they made any reasonable attempt to inspect the apartment or otherwise learn the truth as to whether there was air conditioning in the living and dining rooms.”
So what does this tell us? It tells us it doesn’t matter what the sellers broker listed on his/her materials or what they told you. What matter is that you’re job, your duty, as per the Court, is to make sure you find the things that can be found if you want to have any chance of surviving a lawsuit if things go bad. So, the next time you’re debating on whether or not to get your dream place inspect, ask yourself if the $500 for the inspection is worth potentially losing $90,000…and sleeping on the couch.