Caveat emptor

I see that the apartments from my old apartment building, 55 West 95th Street is finally on the market. These are the lovely folks who evicted me on a month's notice from the apartment where I'd rented for more than three years. My hatred for them is both broad and deep after the various disputes over payment, whether overstaying my lease for a week while my mother found substitute housing required eviction, and a general lack of interest in the actual people involved in the transaction.

Still, I have to say, I'm pretty curious to see what the apartments are like . . . and more to the point, what kind of a lunatic would buy them. The pipes burst three times during the last year I lived there, ruining a number of my clothes and, from what I understand, flooding all of the apartments above me even worse. By the end of my time there, there was no hot water to speak of for most of the day, and the heating was more in the nature of a fond hope than a working system.

I briefly considered buying the apartment I lived in, except that the management company inexplicably demanded, for my cave-like first floor apartment, about what it would cost to buy a one bedroom twice the size in a tony Central Park West building. Then my mother pointed out that the landlord seemed not to have done any work in the building for about thirty years. I had been under the assumption that they were going to gut renovate the thing: put in new boilers and pipes (every time the super talked about the condition of the pipes, he would start shaking his head in sadness), really repair the roof, get the electric up to modern code, and so forth. But it's only been four months since I moved out, which seems barely enough to have finished cosmetic updates on the apartments. Or am I missing something? Can you actually fix deep infrastructure like pipes and so forth in a 60 unit building where ten owners/rent-controlled holdouts are still living, refinish the apartments, and get them on the market by September, which is apparently when these things went on sale? Or did I dodge a bullet?

Update I should note that most people get apartments inspected when they buy them. If the pipes are indeed as awful as I remember them being, & the boiler as spotty, wouldn't that show up on inspection? Who's buying these things?

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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