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"That Was a Bummer"

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This morning, we'll be hearing from first-time buyers whose home acquisition process didn't go quite as they expected. At 1 p.m. the polls will open, and Curbed Philly readers will vote for the story that's most horrific. That story will go on to compete on Curbed National with other regional winners for a chance to win a $2,500 home store gift card. (Standard contest rules apply.)

We bought our Italian Market area home in 2008. We wanted to get something that needed to be restyled at least but we realized that with our crazy jobs, we weren't going to get around to DIYing for a couple years, so we bought a complete rehab. Or so we thought.

We closed on July 3rd so we started moving in over the holiday weekend. The brand new air-conditioning unit totally gave out the first night. It was 100 degrees with high humidity, so the move-in was pretty miserable, and since it was a holiday weekend, we couldn't get anyone to come out for several days. Since the heat was devastating, we threw an air mattress down and left the unpacking for when we could breathe. The AC was "repaired" a few days later, though everything planted in our small backyard green space was trampled to death in the process.

We began to unpack about one week after closing. It was fun, because that was the day we got to discover two things: First, the "new" roof was both old and unsealed, so the torrential rains were making the whole front wall of our house and the third floor sealing "puffy." Second, the second-floor laundry had been improperly installed. Unfortunately, we discovered this when all of the plaster that made up the kitchen ceiling collapsed under the weight of what must have been hundreds of gallons of water, breaking all of our plates, several keepsakes and my camera. It also flooded parts of the first and second floors.

In the weeks (or was it months?) it took to get a new roof and repair the washing machine (new!), flood damage and ceiling and buy new plates, we were visited by numerous families of mice and cockroaches.

Did I mention that our door was too narrow to fit our living area furniture, so we had only kitchen chairs to sit on during this time period? The couch we ordered was actually pushed back on delivery so many times that we didn't have anything to sit on until January. That was a bummer when, shortly after the ceiling collapse fiasco, we received a package in the mail from our insurance company telling us that our house had been improperly listed as 500 square feet larger than it actually was. We had checked this with the city, because so many realtors to inflate this number, but we were satisfied with the city estimate and the house was empty and seemed big enough for two. Little did we know that the price we paid, based on the square footage of a 1,600 square foot house, was based on documents the seller had submitted to the city when he planned to expand the third floor. He never did this expansion, and he never bother to correct this error with the city. So since we based our offer on price per square foot neighborhood comps, we basically paid somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000 too much for our house (based on comps and the range we were interested in paying).

In the subsequent months, the air conditioner broke and had to be replaced again, the kitchen ceiling fell again (in just one part) because the gutter work on the outside had been done improperly. In short, we were completely and totally had.

The BRT tried to simultaneously void our tax abatement because of the seller's fraud AND refused to accept the smaller square footage assessment for the purpose of calculating our property taxes (we won both of those battles after one year, several appearances before the BRT and legal threats from us to them).

There were other things that happened in that first year, but those were the big ones, the ones that soured us and the ones we feel REALLY stupid about.