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Harlem Shell Games, The Inside Story

Regarding our Friday item on brownstone shells for sale in Harlem, a Curbed reader shares a personal experience in the market:

Your post brought back memories. We burned a year and a few grand on lawyers and title searches trying to buy a shell in Harlem in 2000-01. Went to three (what we thought were) closings: on one, the seller was a no-show; another, the guy arrives and says, "now what are we talking about today?" Turns out he didn't own the property, had no title to it, he'd just lived there for 40 years since his aunt died and had been trying to get "earnest money" from a string of folks. The last one, the people didn't show up because they'd been arrested that morning in a HUD finance scandal.

As for brokers, Suggs may be alright (we never used them), but we came across a whole slew of hustlers, including one dope who wanted us to sign an "irrevocable" one-paragraph agreement that guaranteed we'd pay him 6% on whatever property we bought before he showed us the exact same listings of HUD-repossessed shells we'd gotten from three other brokers--and from DHC's site. Ahh, those were the days.

· Shell Games in Harlem [Curbed]