Condos That Try To Kill You And Take All Your Money

 

toxic.jpg

Every home buyer worries and most of these worries fall into one of two buckets: either buying a money pit or suffering from declining value. And most of these buyers do enough due diligence to avoid these problems. But what would happen if you did all your due diligence and bought a solid home but then the game changed? What if your worst nightmare came true and your condo tried to secretly kill you and take all your money and then your association board turned against you and made your life even more of a living hell?

Well, that's exactly what happened to Brad Wells and his nightmare started in 2001 and he still hasn't woken up from it. I had heard this story before but I didn't remember Brad's name when he called me earlier this week but after a few minutes I said to him "Oh, you're that guy!" Brad reached out to me after finding his 180 unit condo building, 1000 W Washington, at the top of the No Lend List I published a while back. The reason it's at the top of the list is because of all the problems that Brad had with his unit, the building, the condominium association, and the resultant lawsuits. Brad is trying to draw attention to his cause.

1000 W Washington

Curbed Chicago covered Brad's saga in a post entitled Help! My Condo Is Killing Me, which reads like an episode of House. In short his problems began with blisters, headaches, night sweats, and coughing. Eventually he progressed to vomiting, shortness of breath, and a cracked and bleeding tongue. It wasn't until 5 years later that he started to connect the dots. His condo association had engaged a contractor to make repairs to the roof and masonry. The work was allegedly shoddy, done without the proper permits, was in violation of the building code, and water leaked into Brad's apartment. After testing for mold Brad discovered that the levels were off the charts - literally. Brad moved out of his condo, was treated for his condition, and eventually recovered.

Brad sent me some photos to corroborate his story and I have added them to a slideshow at the bottom of this post - with the exception of the photos of blisters on his hands, feet, and chest. I decided that those might be a bit too much for general audiences. Have you ever seen a dermatology text book?

But the story doesn't end there. 6 years of constant illness took a toll on Brad's career. Brad tried to get his association to remedy the situation but he met with stiff resistance. Multiple lawsuits were launched because Brad wasn't the only one affected by the mold. Insurance companies got sucked into the skirmishes. The city of Chicago is involved. Insurance companies are suing the building and the board members. The building is even suing several unit owners, including Brad! It is such a bowl of litigation spaghetti that I don't know how the courts will ever sort this out.

And because the association did not remedy the situation in a timely fashion several condo owners simply walked away from their units. Brad wasn't so lucky as to be able to stick a bank with his loss since he paid cash - something he now regrets.

Brad's story is pretty darn credible because he backs up all his claims with a plethora of documenation which is available at a special Web site he has created to expose the lawsuits at 1000 W Washington. Why would he go through all the trouble of creating this elaborate Web site? Because he can't get no satisfaction.

Just to give you an idea of how bad things are at 1000 W Washington let me highlight a few of the gems that Brad highlighted for me:

  • He believes that the association is currently in default on a loan they took out.
  • He has an extensive list of all the building code violations with supporting documentation
  • As you can see on the Circuit Court's site these building code violations have not yet been addressed and the next court date is set for April 6.
  • Those building code violations also include rotting beams that need to be repaired/replaced.
  • As you can see in that previous link the city of Chicago imposed a fine on the building of $4000 per day on May 21, 2008 that is still accruing. On that basis alone the association owes the city close to $4 MM.
  • According to Brad the fine was raised to $6000 per day on October 21, 2009. 
  • Brad has even more stories about the behavior and incompetence of various individuals closely involved with this matter but of course none of those are as easily verified as the facts above.

In total, Brad estimates that it will cost the building $5 - 7MM to address all the issues.

But the story doesn't end here either. You see, 12 units have sold in the building in the last year. How is that possible? Who would buy in such a building? Well, it would certainly appear that some realtors - even some top producers (perish the thought!) - have been less than forthcoming regarding the issues with this building, in clear violation of the Illinois Real Estate Act. Even now current MLS listings are misrepresenting key facts. For instance, several listings in the building state that the building has over $1 MM in reserves and the building is FHA approved. But if you look at the June 30, 2010 balance sheet on Brad's site you will see that their liabilities recently exceeded their assets by close to $1.5 MM - and that doesn't even count the potential liabilities from the lawsuits and the city fines. How can they claim a $1 MM reserve? Brad correctly calls this Enron accounting. And as for the FHA approval...you can see that the FHA approval was withdrawn on November 24 due to significant pending litigation. But that begs the question of how the FHA approval could have been issued in the first place given that the property manager/association has to fill out a questionnaire that plainly asks about current lawsuits. Hmmm. Could someone have lied?

Does anyone else know of any other condo horror stories like this one?

Advertisement:
CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Sounds like some developer is getting away with murder...there really should be a way to go after these people. And as for the top producing realtors that are not forthcoming...they need to be out-ed

  • It turns out that even Brad doesn't blame the developer. It was the board that screwed up.

    This whole thing with the top producers really irks me. They get lots of business simply because they do lots of business and they do lots of business because they get lots of business. Consumers need to be a bit more discerning in who they use. Surprisingly there has been no disciplinary action on the one for whom Brad holds the most contempt.

  • you have to find some way to let me know who those realtors are

  • Yeah, not in public though and not in writing. I think you can appreciate the potential legal ramifications. But any listing agent in this building that is claiming $1 MM in reserves and FHA approval is of questionable integrity and/or misinformed.

  • Your post itself is a condo horror story, Gary.

    It

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Couldn't help yourself could you?
    1) How can I defame someone that I don't name?
    2) You've taken me to task for not naming names before but I have no doubt that if I had named names you would be all over me for doing that.
    3) Actually, Joe, I do have plenty of facts to back up my claims about the other realtors, many of which I have included in this article. I just think it would be inappropriate for me to possibly damage someone's career without the whole issue going through the proper channels - that's what the IDFPR disciplinary process is for.
    4) I don't claim to be a journalist, Joe. I'm a real estate broker with a blog. If the other side wants to make their case they can come on here and post their side of the story.
    5) If you think my investigation is inadequate and I'm gullible then why don't you tell me what points of my story are in error? There is a mountain of documentation on this case, much of which I've gone through. I spent way more time on this post than most of mine.
    5) If you admit to not knowing the facts and you are not claiming that Brad's claims are erroneous then how can you say that my investigation is inadequate and I'm gullible? Personally, Joe, I think you just don't like me disturbing the status quo in the real estate industry, which provides your bread and butter.
    6) Since this story isn't about me I don't see how it puffs me up.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    I

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe - The fact that you admit to not knowing me or the facts yet continue to make such aspersions about me is, actually, quite inappropriate.

    To clarify, I did not state or claim that Nicholas Colagiovanni was disciplined by the IDFPR or not although I will be happy to provide you with the documents I have pertaining to that issue. However, what I find worth noting is the fact that I e-mailed you a scanned signed and stamped copy of the court's order / judgment (along with the online court records AND the original complaint) to your yochicago e-mail address 2 hours prior to your latest response.

    But, in case you didn't receive it, the following links will allow you (and anyone else) to download the PDF scans which will verify the veracity of my statements.

    Wells v Colagiovanni Court Order / Ruling:

    http://www.1000westlofts-lawsuit.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Wells-v.-Colagiovanni-Judgment-Order.pdf

    I would hope that a judge's ruling, at least in this case, as a result of Nicholas Colagiovanni's "Breach of Fiduciary Duty" while my real estate agent regarding a prior real estate sale at 1000 West Washington Lofts fulfills your requirement to "establish any misconduct in connection with the prior sales."

    I don't know how you use the term "top producer" but my use of the description was based solely Nicholas Colagiovanni's real estate agent profile as published on the Baird & Warner website (which I had also previously e-mailed you).

    Nicholas A. Colagiovanni - Baird & Warner Profile:

    http://www.1000westlofts-lawsuit.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Collagiovanni-Profile.pdf

    If, as I had offered in my prior e-mail, you had requested the supporting documentation regarding the MLS listings and / or copies of the ratified Association's Board Minutes which details the claimed "$1MM in Reserves" (or anything else), I would have sent them to you but......

    I don't know how you can think that the documents which are scanned on my website are from a "single source". Even a cursory look at the documents list would show that I have already identified over 25 DIFFERENT sources. Furthermore, these documents were provided to me as a result of court ordered discovery and, with you being a lawyer, I would have expected you to recognize all the various BATES stamps on the documents.

    I know that the situation at 1000 West Lofts is a complex one but, as my grandfather always said "opinions are like a__holes everyone has one" and "you can't teach stupid".

    The facts are the facts and they are irrefutable. Also, if you had performed even the most basic of your own research, you would have learned that not only do the opinions of ALL the experts NOT differ in any substantive way (meaning they all basically agree on all main points / damages) but that everything detailed can be easily verified by innumerable independent sources.

    For the last 10 years, of all the hundreds and hundreds of people, lawyers, companies, hearings, inspectors, judges, etc. involved so far, I do not once ever recall seeing your "dog in this fight" as, using your own words, wouldn't such statements you are now making be nothing more than "unubstantiated inferences"?

    Finally, I have no problem with anyone asking questions or providing actual / factual information but I, like you, have a "big beef with anyone who grotesquely misrepresents" me or my situation.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington Lofts

    p.s. As you obviously have no basis of knowledge, the main reason that I continue to update the lawsuit website is because I am tired of having the Association's and other lawyers requiring me to spend an extraordinary amount of time producing the same documents again and again and again to the Courts (especially when the documents requested are the documents which they provided originally) as well as for those self-proclaimed "experts" who just "assume" they know me or the facts. Ironically, your latest response, in my opinion, is another perfect example why there is so much "bias against all real estate agents".

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Brad,

    Please get this simple point. This isn

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Please identify my untrue statements.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Gary,

    I haven

  • In reply to joezekas:

    The only obligation I have, Joe, is to tell the truth and I have met that obligation. I am not in the least bit interested in trying to please you because the only way I can please you is to either hire a staff of researchers or pass every post by you for approval or just stop blogging all together. So I'll just continue to entertain readers by annoying you.

    In the meantime I have sent you the list of listings. It does not matter if the information is publicly available or not and it does not matter if the information was accurate at the time the listing was created (the reserve information certainly wasn't). I'm sure that if I had a listing out there with old, inaccurate information you would deliver one of your sanctimonious lectures to me about professionalism. And the agent remarks routinely get in the hands of consumers from their agents and, besides, there is no excuse for making false claims in real estate.

    So, yes, I am standing by my claim. Sorry to disappoint you.

    And I am free to speculate and share my speculations anywhere I want as long as I clearly identify them as my speculations. Hell, Joe, your whole diatribe here is one big collection of speculations about my professionalism and you don't even identify your musings as speculation.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe,

    First, by stating that I am "obsessed" and then continuing to challenge the veracity of the statements, even after providing you with the documents which prove there truthfulness is, in fact, "negative" and then state such

  • In reply to 1000westlofts:

    I'm conducting a discussion with Gary about his behavior in this post, and you continue to insist that it's about you.

    It's not about you.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe -

    What is so difficult for you to understand?

    It is very simple really, when you continue to challenge the veracity of the facts, statements or "behavior in this post" and / or on my website you involve me.

    When you call me "obsessed" (no matter how you may use or characterize the word) you involve me.

    I have learned the long term and extremely costly repercussions of not immediately addressing issues / correcting statements (actions) that directly or indirectly involve me.

    That being the case, I will not apologize nor will I stop correcting every allegation or misstatement that you (or anyone) make that relates to me in any way.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe,

    I am providing the following documentation to, hopefully once and for all, fully address your comment about how

  • In reply to joezekas:

    One more minor point, Gary. The reason 1000 West is

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Of course that's why it's there. I simply said that Brad found his building at the top of the list in an effort to help people find it quickly if they looked at the list. That is in fact how Brad found it. I did not say this had any particular significance. Keep looking for that bogeyman, Joe. Maybe you'll find it someday.

  • In reply to LucidRealty:

    "The reason it's at the top of the list is because of all the problems that Brad had with his unit ..."

    Your words, Gary. You continue to have trouble understanding the plain meaning of what you say.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Good point. See, I'll admit when I'm wrong.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe -

    I concur that the reason 1000 West Lofts may be at the top of the "No Lend List" may be due to some algorithm but, even if not at the top, I would have searched the list and notated where it was for others to find.

    Also, for the sake of understanding and clarify, I do not believe, for one minute, that the reason that 1000 West Lofts is on the list is just because of "all the problems that Brad (I) had with his (my) unit..." but rather because of ALL the problems, lawsuits, code violations, damages, special assessments, fines, budget issues, etc. that are affecting ALL unit owners and ALL units in the building.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe -

    I also want to clarify that I am not "trying to draw attention to my cause" but rather draw attention to the issues and to possibly prevent such an issue from affecting someone else. Would you not agree that "knowldge is power" and "forewarned is forearmed"?

    So many still believe that one can make issues "go away" simply by "burying their head in sand" and I want others to be aware of the hard and expensive repercussions of such childish (unprofessional) beliefs / actions.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington

  • In reply to joezekas:

    How can the courts not sort this out? Seems like the building owners tried to make it needlessly complex just to tie it up in court. Shame.

  • In reply to nixhexison:

    Dan - I agree it is a a massive shame. However, it isn't the unit owners but the Condo Board that has made it so needlessly complex. As the Condo Board REFUSES to make the proper and necessary repairs, Unit owners had NO choice but to go to the courts to protect themselves and so a Judge can force the Condo Board to repair the damages.

    Brad
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington

  • In reply to nixhexison:

    Everyone will gain a clearer picture of Brad and of Gary by reading the following comment left by Brad on this blog and apparently removed by Gary. I received it via the e-mail notification feature on this blog. Brad didn't grasp a simple April Fool's joke. Here is his comment:

    Joe -

    As you are about as transparent about your true knowledge, motivations and biases as the US Air Force is about Area 51, I thought I would point out to everyone that you previously published an article at your own website - yochicago - in which you admitted that you created (OWNED) CribChatter as way to "banish the crazies" and asked for to be forgiven "for not being forthright with you or our readers".

    http://www.1000westlofts-lawsuit.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/4.1.10-yochicago-article.pdf

    I wonder if this yet another example of not only your "un-biased professionalism" but also your "extraordinary" self-proclaimed diagnostic abilities that you honed when you were once a "psychiatric aide"??

    So that others may understand, cribchatter is another real estate website which has had, over several years, numerous posts and discussions relating to the all damages and lawsuits at 1000 West Lofts.

    And yet you continue to question my or Gary's integrity? Mmmm.... very intersting. However, I will keep my own psychiatric diagnosis about you to myself.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Here is what happened. Brad emailed me about this YoChicago article. I replied via email that it was an April Fools joke. Before reading my reply Brad posted the above comment. Then he read the email and asked me to delete his comment. I obliged. We all have accidentally hit the send or post button and then immediately regretted it. I would do the same for anyone.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe -

    I grasp the concept of an "April Fool's JOkE" and even had a "post script" submitted (which you did not include) which stated "P.S. Although the above article, most likely is an "April Fools JOkE", based on JOE's prior posts, 2 out of 3 of those words still apply".

    What, truly, gives everyone a clearer picture about you Joe is that, even AFTER providing the proof that you demanded (which countermands every one of your "accusations"), you still can't admit you were wrong; the quintessential "Web / Blog Expert" or, in my experience, "Board Member".

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Wasington

    P.S - As you already acknowledged simple research is beyond your capability, "quintessential" means "most typical".

  • In reply to 1000westlofts:

    Brad,

    I didn't include your PS because it wasn't in your comment and wasn't received in any e-mail notification.

    Your suggestion that I deliberately omitted something is, to put it blunly, a lie.

    If I'm wrong abouto anything, I'll admit it. You have yet to prove anything.

    Gary,

    Everyone has their own approach to comments. I wouldn't have deleted one that helped readers understand a source's credibility as much as Brad's off-the-wall comment did.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe -

    Despite my personal distaste for people who continue to demonstrate such overt ignorance of the facts, I am going to explain the circumstances of both the

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Brad,

    I think every reader will understand why I will engage no further with someone who lies about me and then goes on to say

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe -

    Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" and your response, once again, proves such remains true today.

    However, from my perspective and experience, your continued misinterpretations of statements, using "incomplete" quotes, ignorance of the facts and obvious bias towards myself or Gary pales in comparison to the true reality of the "disgusting" situations at 1000 West lofts.

    The facts are always reality.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Lofts

    P.S. By the way, I should have realized that I would have to explain to a "vendor" that a "shadow owner" does not necessarily mean who "owns" but who "controls". Due to your penchant for using "incomplete" statements as the basis for your arguments, the rest of my "shadow owner" statement included "and this was your way to block my further comments that kept disproving all of your statements."

    P.S.S. In case it wasn't already apparent, I truly don't care what narcisstic keyboard warriors think about me or my behavior. Please let me know if you need that explained to you as well.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    I was really hoping that I could watch the rest of this debate from the sidelines but I guess not. I don't even know what the argument is about at this point. There are so many levels of misunderstanding between the parties here that I now understand why there is no peace in the Middle East and why the Cold War went on for so long.

    Joe, to answer your question...of course you didn't receive Brad's PS post because, as he made it clear, he never posted it (I was unaware that my

  • In reply to LucidRealty:

    And once again, Gary, you're ignoring the plain meaning of words. Brad said:

    -- So, if you truly did not receive the

  • In reply to joezekas:

    You see it as an evil inference. I see it as a poor choice of words. And I'm not into condemning "behavior" on social media.

  • In reply to LucidRealty:

    It's more than a poor choice of words, Gary.

    You can run your blog as you see fit, and I can choose to view you as I see fit.

    This discussion is back where it started - about your judgment and your integrity and your ethical standards. It doesn't appear that you have any.

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Joe,

    I wanted to respond to your last comment,

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Actually, I am an owner in the building, have served on the Board of Directors and am a lawyer.

    Prior to publishing information such as this I would suggest you verify it and try to be comprehensive. For example, did you know that Brad does not directly own his unit in the building? Instead it belongs to a family member so he has no direct interest in it. He also refused to let anyone in to assess the supposed damage and tore out everything in the apartment so there was no way to determine what happened and what caused it. He has also physically assualted several of his neighbors in the building over this issue. He doesn't even live in the building anymore to my knowledge and last I heard was in arrears on both his mortgage and assessments.

    This kind of uneven reporting has made it difficult for existing and potential unit owners to sell and buy. What Brad has been saying and apparently continues to say is simply not the truth or the complete story and many of us have suffered from his accusations.

  • In reply to kkharris:

    I'm actually glad that someone with direct knowledge of the situation, other than Brad, has shown up here to weigh in on the situation. Are there any factual inaccuracies in what I have written here or is the problem basically one of omission?

  • In reply to kkharris:

    1000 West Owner,

    It is clear that you have no

  • In reply to kkharris:

    I picked up on this story through my affiliation with the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) and the IAQA Digest that comes out 3 or 4 times a month. I run a company called Midwest Inspection Services, LTD. I am a licensed Home Inspector, certified thermographer, board certified mold inspector, and a moisture intrusion specialist involving various types of building envelopes on all different claddings. Simply stated,

  • In reply to alanjaugust:

    Alan,

    It was a pleasure speaking with you this morning and I appreciate your opinions / suggestions regarding the contamination, damages and conditions of my Unit 541 at 1000 West Lofts.

    As we discussed, I look forward to when you and any of your associates are able to schedule a time to inspect / test for yourselves.

    If you ever have any further questions or would like additional documentation / prior testing results, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    I hope you have a great day and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks again.

    Brad Wells
    Owner

  • In reply to joezekas:

    Unfortunately, Joe, you've done more damage to the reputation of specific realtors than I ever intended. I purposely left enough ambiguity in my post so that no one would be identified. However, as a result of your accusations and research you have now brought specific names out. I'm sure everyone appreciates that.

    Furthermore, regarding misconduct, if there are material issues with a building that a listing agent is aware of they are required to disclose that. It's hard for me to imagine that these issues were disclosed to the buyers of so many units over the last 12 months.

    For your further information 9 of the 17current listings from 4 different realtors make statements about FHA approval and/or reserves - in the agent remarks, which you can not see.

    I think it is totally inappropriate for you to characterize Brad as obsessed in a pejorative manner. If you went through what he's gone through... However, let's apply your standard to you. I think most people conversant with the common meaning of

  • Like collections of ghost stories, after the surge in condo building/buying I am sure there are volumes. My story is awful, but dwarfed by Gary's.

    We need a list of Realtors who engage in poor practices. My own experience is in a building where none of Realtors checked on a Certificate of Occupancy when the building became available. None of the Realtors attempting to market any of the limited amount of units is requesting that either. Interesting.

  • In reply to BuddyKing:

    I'm surprised that your attorney didn't check on that prior to closing.

  • As the issues at 1000 West Lofts are so pervasive and have been on-going for such a long period of time, even with all the documentation downloadable on my site, I wanted to clarify a couple of points from my perspective:

    1) The damages, code violations and lawsuits, were created solely due to the actions or inactions by 1000 West Lofts

  • Joe -

    For someone whom I have never met, I find it ironic that you talk about "unwarranted defamation" yet then claim that I am "obsessed".

    Based on your response and admission that "I (you) don't know the facts", I would suggest that rather than defaming me (or anyone else), why not read the documentation / evidence for yourself first. If you did, you would have noticed that the vast majority of documentation was CREATED by / or for either the Association, the City of Chicago or their own experts. The inspection reports that I commissioned just confirmed and verified the other's findings.

    Finally, Gary did NOT mention the name of the Realtor - Nicholas Colagiovanni - just as he did not post the photos of my physical injuries due to his own professional standards even though he was supplied with signed copies of the complaint and Court findings / orders.

    Brad Wells
    Owner Unit 541
    1000 West Washington Lofts

  • fb_avatar

    WOW I am so glad I read this!! (I do not plan on actually buying a condo for a couple of years down the road, but hey, I like to still look!)

    I actually do know what those symptoms of "blisters, headaches, night sweats, and coughing. Eventually he progressed to vomiting, shortness of breath, and a cracked and bleeding tongue" was from. My mother had 4 different forms of toxic mold due to the roofing company failing to build the roof to code and the whole family was experiencing similar ailments. My face would break out in sores, my mom, nephew, and niece had to use a kind of inhaler with a mask because they would have breathing attacks. My mom night sweats and was having vomiting. (the coughing i can't say was due to it because she's a smoker...)

    There is a kit that you can buy that will test for toxic mold. I don't remember what it was called but you can buy it and you send the sample to a lab in Florida and they can tell you if you have it, what it is, and how dangerous it is. Mold is something to never take lightly. Since my mother has fixed the house (she had to take out a 15k loan to fix it all) all of us have felt so much better. When I, my nieces, and nephew visit there's no more crazy side effects from being in the house and my mom doesn't have to use the inhaler anymore!!

Leave a comment