We Were Duped

We Were Duped

I was totally planning on doing a cute post today giving you a tour of the 4plex, sharing our ideas on how we’ll update our four apartments and building exterior, but, alas, —and pardon my french—shit went down this week. We found out our sellers lied.

Let me back up and share with you that Nick and I aren’t strangers to major house issues.

Finding Hidden Issues in Our First Property

When we bought our Astoria house in June of 2012, 2 years before we became home improvement professionals full-time, we asked friends to come over and help us demolish the basement so we could turn it into a really nice bedroom with its own entrance and full bathroom for our roommate — and down the road, a successful Air BnB.

Well, we took down the basement walls—all of them—including the ceiling and found all of this:

  1. Termite damage to all the studs
  2. Under the engineered hardwood was dirt…no foundation…just dirt
  3. Sagging support beam. The only support beam…was cracked in the middle…and sagging.

First, we cried.

Then, we got to work.

We were duped on our first multi family purchase

Our “before” picture for the basement after demo. Yes, those are dirt floors!

Why? Becuase there was no way to find any of these things without taking the walls down. It’s just the nature of buying a house built in the 1940s.

The wood support beam was with a steel beam.

We took the opportunity to address the dirt foundation by digging down deeper to give us 8′ ceilings in the basement.

The basement was reframed and we installed termite systems to prevent any termites in the future.

We were duped on our first multi family

After we dug down two feet, poured a new foundation, installed radiant floor heating, and re framed the entire space.

Home improvement gave us so much pride. So much so that we ditched our previous life plans and went into business together.

Why We’re Pissed Now

Here’s what you need to know:

We went under contract for our 4plex in Columbus, Ohio on June 26. On July 7th, we hired a highly recommended home inspector.

We’ve been traveling all summer but made it a point to be back in Columbus on July 7th for the home inspection. When we arrived, we not only found the home inspector there but also the seller.


Well, I took this as an opportunity to get to know the seller. He was older so perhaps he had more properties to sell. Also, maybe he had professionals in place that took care of the building that he could share with us.

However, the seller being there really upset Nick. He felt it distracted the home inspector and us from being present and looking closely at the building.

Nick was right.

The inspection went well. A few concerns were found and we were able to knock 5K off the selling price.

Remember, this all happened on July 7th.

Fast Forward to Post-Closing

We closed on the property August 25th. Just prior to closing, our agent shared with us that one of the tenants, we’ll call her Unit C, was going to leave her contract early so we’d have an apartment to start working on right away.


6 days later we get an email from our title company. Cc’d is Unit C asking for her security deposit back.

Security Deposit? But you moved out before we took ownership. Wasn’t that taken care of?

Indeed it wasn’t. Not only was it not taken care of, but Unit C asked for her security deposit multiple times before she was directed to the title co. to get ahold of the new owners.

Okay, cool. Let’s seize this opportunity:

Sarah: Hey Unit C! We’d be happy to return your deposit. I’ll have a check in the mail tomorrow.

Unit C: Wow! Thanks so much for responding so quickly! I’m not used to that.

Sarah: Since we’re in communication now, I’d love to know a little bit more about why you left your contract early and any other pieces of information you wouldn’t mind sharing about your time at the property.

Unit C: So glad you asked. I left because management was terrible. They never responded to any of my emails, calls, or texts – especially when THERE WAS MOLD GROWING ON MY CARPET DUE TO A MAJOR LEAK IN MY WINDOW. Here’s a picture:

We were duped on our first multi family property

Unit C took pictures every time it rained and it leaked in her apartment. She shared her photo with us.

Sarah: Say what?! When did the leak start?

Unit C: Well, it’s been happening since I moved in Oct. 2016 – but most recently it happened in July and it had gotten worse because management hadn’t take care of it when I notified them the first time. Mold started growing on my carpet. I sent countless emails that never got answered until I told them I wanted out of my lease. Then they answered only to let me out of my lease.

We were duped on our first multi family property.

Yes, my friends. That discoloration is mold.

Sarah: We were duped!

And That’s Not All!

Day 1 of owning the property, the day we closed, we went to the vacant unit to do a toast, record a celebratory Instagram video, and take it all in.

Nick then went for a run—the neighborhood we bought in is super cute so he wanted to check it out more—and took a shower before dinner.

Nick: Sarah, the hot water isn’t coming on.

Sarah: Hmm, that’s odd. (Sarah goes to shower panel to see if hot water was turned off. She notices the hot water is indeed on but notices a leak dripping down from the supply line.)


Sarah: Uh, Nick….

Nick: Ah, figured it out…the knobs are backward. Hot is cold and cold is hot.

Sarah: So glad you figured that out. Also, there is a leak.

Nick: Shit.

We were duped on our first multi family property.

Just a casual shower leak that has been happening for months.

We then head down to Unit A, which is directly below Unit C to introduce ourselves. When Unit A answers the door, we also took this opportunity to ask if he noticed a leak or any water damage above his shower.

Unit A: Oh yeah, come look. I told the old management about it but they never responded or fixed it.

But Sarah and Nick, Didn’t You Want a Fixer?

Well, yes. And there are a lot of fixes that you can’t see during an inspection or any of your walk throughs. We get that.

But the owners KNEW of the issues and never shared them with us.

They also did not reflect these issues in their price of the building.

They were crazy dishonest.

Not only that, but remember that home inspection we had? Remember how the owner was there talking our ear off?

Was he there to distract us like Nick thought?

It’s totally possible.

We’re also not happy with the home inspector. The shower panel that would have revealed a leak in the shower was easy to access and should have been part of his routine. Even though we were preoccupied with the seller being there, we purchased the inspection so we’d have another set of trained eyes.

He failed to notice. The inspector didn’t even look.

So, Do You Have Any Rights?

Well, that’s what we’re going to find out. We checked the disclosure page and the seller did not mention they knew of any issues with the property.

They lied.

We have proof they lied.

Unit C shared email and text correspondences with us that they knew of the major leak that happened while we were under contract.

We also opened up a claim with our home inspector.

We plan on fighting.

Stay tuned!

Do you have any war stories from any of your property purchases you can share? Misery loves company! 

Haha, just kidding. But, if you have any advice or went through any similar situations we’d love to learn from you! Share in the comments below!


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