Things got bad with the house on Friday, and they've remained bad. They've become a little worse in only that I can't believe the stupidity and lack of ethics of the people I'm dealing with.
A quick timeline:
The last four years: I've lived in the house, been a model tenant. About a year and a half ago, she asked me if I'd like to consider buying the place. I said yes, but I wanted to get myself in a better spot financially. Later, my old roommate approached her about buying the house. He backed out, and after that she promised me she would never sell the place out from under me and give me first dibs on it when I wanted to buy.
Monday: She calls me to tell me that the EPA sent her a letter saying that the house needed to be checked out for peeling lead paint, and that she and an inspector would come in on Wednesday to check it out. I'm in Michigan. She also asks me my plans for the house. I said I intend to stay for the school year, at least, and still enjoy living there, and that I would probably be able to buy the place in October.
Wednesday: She calls me, and says that the inspector wants to buy the house and that they're going back to look at the place the next day. The inspector tells her that to get the house up to code, she would have to invest thousands of dollars, and that he would offer her $80,000 cash to buy it on the spot.
Friday: The inspector didn't call back, but another real estate agent in the office of the owner's real estate office overheard talk of the purchase of the house for $80,000. He says he's got a couple interested in it, and the couple looked at the place at 3pm. They want to buy it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cohn is "shocked" at the condition of the house, even though it's pretty much exactly the condition it was when I moved in, only there's more peeling paint.
The weekend: I get approved not only for an FHA loan, but also get preliminary approval for a 100% financing loan in which I would only have to put down $500. Still, both loans require an inspection, and Mrs. Cohn's (I frankly don't care about not using her name anymore) real estate agent doesn't think it would pass any inspection and wants to take the cash up front.
Meanwhile, I have two friends who offered her more in cash for the house than $80,000. I have one friend I play softball with who looked at buying the house in the spring who said she would pay $100,000 for it, today. However, the real estate agent is wondering how this buyer came out of the "clear blue sky" and is leery. It could still happen, but the contract is being drawn up today.
This house has not been listed, and is going to sell at more than $40,000 less than any other house in the area. It's not in the best shape, but it's certainly livable, and has gotten a new garage, a new roof, a new drainage system for the basement, a new hot water heater, and a new furnace since I moved in four years ago. Mrs. Cohn, the old lady who owns the house, is being taken advantage of, and her asinine real estate agent is giving her very bad advice that she's following.
It looks like I'll be kicked to the curb by September 30.
1. Buy a HUD house in the teacher-next-door program for half off. But the list is looking pretty bare at this moment. I like this option because at least it means that sitting on this good deal for the last four years turned into another good deal because of my job. Still, I don't exactly have a lot of time on my hands to fix up a place so I would need to be able to move in by October.
2. Buy a nicer house for around $100,000 somewhere in the city. I'm going out with my real estate agent this week to start looking. I don't really have much clue where I want to buy at this point, and hate to do something like this out of desperation.
3. Find another sweet rent deal like I've got now, one that can accomondate a large dog, a cat, and a roommmate.
4. Put stuff in storage space, find someone to watch the dog for a couple months (The Polish girl would absolutely love to do this), and find someone - a friend - who will let me live and rent a room in their house for a few months while I houseshop and save. This lesbian couple I'm close with just offered me this, but they don't move in to their teacher-next-door purchased home until probably October.
5. Curse loudly to myself.
So far, I've only accomplished #5.
I'm also considering how I might go on the offensive with the landlady. I'm madder than I've been in a few years, and would love to just stop paying rent to her. First off, I'm pissed and want to get even in what little amount of power that I have in this situation. Secondly, I now know that I can't trust her as far as I could throw her, and am worried about getting my $950 deposit back. If I call and cancel my August rent check, then not pay September, I wonder what could happen. I definitely have a case of living in hazardous conditions if the lead paint scenario is as bad as the inspector says (tenant rights in Baltimore state this explicitly). Plus, the roof leaks (despite it being new... the roofer hasn't come back to fix it yet), the upstairs faucet doesn't work, my stove doesn't work - there are plenty of violations that would at the very least be reason to open up a rent escrot account if I wanted to go that route.
I also don't think they've done all they need to do for the right of first refusal law, but the code is worded vaguely and I'll check on that tomorrow when I go to the Baltimore City Tenants Rights group that's on St. Paul.
Lastly, I don't blame Mrs. Cohn too much for all this. She's an old woman who is being taken advantage of. But her real estate agent, Diane Marsiglia, is a horrible person. What I hate most about her is the way she patronizes me, acting as if she's doing me a favor when she says that she's going to give me 55 days or is going to give me my deposit back. She's being an unethical bitch (I've caught her in two lies so far), and she's giving her client bad advice. For the life of me, I don't understand how she could get two offers to sell the house for $80,000 in three days - when the house was not even on the market - and think she's has to take the deal despite the fact that just a few calls from me around town to people I know netted an offer of $100,000. This place is a goldmine that someone could flip for a $50,000 profit with just a little bit of work.
Yes, that sound you hear is my student loans not being paid off because I was too chicken to jump on the place earlier. Oh well. Learning experience, I guess.
I'm still hopeful that something will work out. Maybe this buyer will drop out of the picture. Maybe my friend's $100,000 offer will be accepted. Maybe a friend of a friend's offer of $80,000 cash will be accepted and we'll be able to stay longer.
Meanwhile, I think I'm at the point now where I need to be on the lookout for housing options around. I'd appreciate if any of you Baltimoreans could pass them along to me if you come across them.
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