Now that everything has been tied up in a nice bow—and we've gotten back all the money we sunk into that debacle of a real estate deal—I can report that we're not moving to that 14-acre property outside New Hope. And I can say that the owners are cray cray. And liars. Or they're so stupid they didn't know they were lying. But that seems doubtful.
The sellers misrepresented the property tax situation in the sales contract. They didn't check the box indicating part of the property was under a land preservation scheme—specifically a forest one—that had already reduced their property taxes. We had been told there was no such preservation status in place, and the realtors had emphasized in their marketing of the property to us that we’d be able to subdivide the property if we wanted and/or preserve some/most of the land as farmland or forest and so reduce our taxes going forward from the current level.
We thought we might someday want to build another structure on the property because it didn't have a sizable outbuilding in which to do farm production work, only a small shed. And we thought we might want to incorporate a garage and/or in-laws apartment. And so we wanted to have those options. And we were told the current owners hadn't bothered to lower their taxes—they just hadn't gotten around to it in the 15 years they've lived there—and we could lower ours by several thousand dollars a year if we put some of the acreage under farmland preservation (or forestry, whichever made the most sense).
Then after we'd signed a contract, our lawyer told us the title search indicated the forest preservation was in effect. Were the sellers stupid or evil? That's always the question, isn't it?
There were also a couple big issues—a potentially fire-sparking electrical problem and a failed septic system—as well as a few smaller ones that our inspectors had uncovered, and the sellers never gave us proof they had fixed a single one of them as the weeks dragged on.
We received word through our realtor that the sellers had agreed to drop the price of the home by $16,000 to reflect the estimated cost of undoing the forestry assessment, but we never got anything in writing to that effect. They didn't get a lawyer until we ran out of patience and said they had until the next day to decide whether to agree to drop the price by $32,000 (the supposedly agreed-upon $16,000, plus $16,000 more to offset the higher taxes we'd be paying because we wouldn't be able to lower the taxes any more than what they're now at).
The sellers said they wanted out of the contract. And we were relieved. At that point, we didn't trust them at all, and we knew we'd be wondering what else they'd neglected to tell us. They gave us back all the money we calculated we'd spent up to that point on our lawyer, the inspector, travel, etc., and the $11,000 we'd put toward the purchase price.
We should have known they were a bit off when we saw the tanning bed in their solarium. *eye roll*
We’re now pursuing a place in Sand Brook, a little village in Delaware Township, New Jersey, that's near the farm/B&B I owned with an ex back in the early aughts. We’re looking to close on Aug. 20.