Home > Politics Stories > Home buyer loses bidding war with N. Hempstead

Home buyer loses bidding war with N. Hempstead


September 3, 2009 by TIMOTHY ROBERTSON. Special to Newsday /

Looking to move out of a tight condo in Rego Park, John Pai looked east to Manhasset as a potential home for his family of four. He wanted good schools for his two young children and an easier commute to his job as a computer consultant in Nassau County.

For just $590,000 – $200,000 less than comparable homes in Manhasset – Pai said he found the house he wanted. And he thought he had it.

Until the Town of North Hempstead entered the picture.

“I see now it is almost impossible to beat the town,” Pai said this week.

At the end of July, Pai reached agreement with the bank that owns the house on a price of $590,000. Pai signed a purchase contract and made a $60,000 deposit.

“I thought when someone signed a contract and sent in a deposit, it was a done deal,” he said in an interview.

But the house, at 51 Andrew St., is next to Town Hall. And when town officials heard it was available, they saw an opportunity to expand.

At an Aug. 4 meeting, town board members voted to hire a lawyer to look into a potential purchase. The town then placed a $600,000 bid.

When Pai found out, he upped his bid to $620,000.

The town bid $625,000.

Pai bid $635,000 – his limit.

But he couldn’t match the town’s terms: a cash deal.

So the bank accepted the town’s offer.

“I had it for $590,000 and all of a sudden I’m bidding $45,000 more,” Pai said. “It didn’t seem right.”

He said he understands the town won the bidding war legally. He’s asked for a return of his down payment, and his attorney is negotiating with the town for reimbursement of some fees Pai paid toward the purchase.

Pai would still like to buy the house – and the neighbors want him to have it, too.

Andrew Street resident Bill Riggin said the town’s purchase “obviously changes the residential character of Manhasset – and takes away an opportunity from a family of getting into Manhasset.”

Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said Monday that the property could be used for needed office space and 10 parking spots.

The town is exploring other options, including several raised by Andrew Street residents, even as it moves forward with the acquisition, said Sidhartha Nathan, a town spokesman. The purchase awaits town board approval.

“It’s a unique parcel of land and at such a cheap price,” Nathan said. “It makes sense for the town because we have parking issues.”

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