7 On Your Side: Home value confusion

Seven On Your Side
July 1, 2011 7:23:48 PM PDT
It looks like a 2 family house, complete with a separate basement apartment, with all the amenities. But looks can be deceiving.

"I freaked out. I gotta tell you. I really did," said Elizabeth Jorge, the homeowner.

That's because Elizabeth Jorge found out she really owns a one-family house in the eyes of the Bronx Department of Buildings and the certificate of occupancy on file there.

The former bus driver bought her home 6 years ago and now found she paid tens of thousands more than she should have.

"I paid too much, over $80,000 more than the house was worth, I paid for it was a two-family house," Jorge said.

Her Morris Park house has a rental property downstairs, and the rental income helped the former bus driver and her husband qualify for a mortgage program when they bought the house back in 2004.

But this year when they tried to sell the house, their realtor unearthed city records going back to 1939 showing the house as a one-family.

"I have to sell it as a short sale, meaning it would ruin her credit and she's going to lose money, she s not gonna make money," said Maria Rosario, a realtor.

It's a mystery to her how the previous realtors missed the major discrepancy when the Jorges bought the home.

"I was screwed, not only by them, but the previous owners, the lawyer that was supposed to be protecting me, by NACA that was supposed to protect me, by Citibank, no one saw this, no one!" Jorge exclaimed.

The city has conflicting information on the house, while the DOB has it as a two-family, the Finance Department lists the Bogart Avenue house as a one-family.

After contacting all the parties involved when Elizabeth bought her house, the real estate attorney who represented her, agreed to pay a third of the architect's fee who's new blueprints will be necessary to change the status of the home.

Citibank says two city agencies had it down as a two-family house and that she should work with the city to resolve it. The nonprofit NACA agreed to give her any additional legal help but stopped short of helping to pay for to make this right.