Can I Sell My Apartment While My Building Is Being Repaired?

You can, but you probably don’t want to in the current market.

Can I Sell My Apartment While My Building Is Being Repaired?

Credit…Nadia Pillon

Can I Sell My Apartment While My Building Is Being Repaired?

Q: My wife and I live in a Yorkville co-op and were hoping to put it on the market soon. However, Con Edison shut off the gas four months ago after it discovered micro-leaks in a gas riser. We won’t get our gas back until the leaks are capped, and we don’t know when that will be. The master plumber confirmed that the riser leading to our unit does not have any leaks, so none of the repairs will impact our apartment. But I’ve been told that a prospective buyer may not be able to obtain a mortgage under these circumstances. Is this true? Can we sell our apartment if the gas is turned off?

A: Now is not a good time to sell your apartment. Your building is facing months of inconvenience and uncertainty as management repairs a serious safety hazard. In a soft housing market, buyers presumably have safer options.

“If there’s a gas leak in a building, you may just be out of luck,” said Bill Kowalczuk, an associate real estate broker at Warburg Realty. “What buyer would want to buy?”

You could list the apartment well below market value in an attempt to attract a buyer who might be willing to overlook the problem for a deal. But your board might reject a sale if the price is too low. The deal probably wouldn’t even make it to the board for review anyway, because if the buyer needs a mortgage, the bank would send out an appraiser who would quickly discover the problem.

“The appraiser will almost certainly notify the bank of this issue,” said Pierre E. Debbas, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, and the bank won’t fund the loan because it is not going to want to lend money in a building with problems of this magnitude.

If you find a buyer willing to pay cash, you’d still have to get past the buyer’s lawyer, who would read through the board minutes, uncover the scale of this problem and advise their client of the risks. What if more leaks are discovered? What if those leaks do affect your line, and extensive repairs are needed in your apartment? What if there’s no gas for another year?

Write to the board and insist it provide shareholders with a clear timeline for the work. This problem needs to be addressed aggressively and resolved so that you and your neighbors can have a fully functioning building — which includes being able to sell your apartments if you want.

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