I was contacted by my cousin regarding a property in Ridge New York. "For Sale By Bank" was located on 48 Elizabeth Way.
Here is where the property is located:
The property is about 1.9 acres and sits on a corner with a fairly beaten down residence in need of cleanup and repairs.
I immediately called the phone number and was spoken to by Sam Spano who claimed to be a Real Estate agent. To date, I have never met Sam Spano nor been given information as to where he does business. His office answers: "Hello, Corporate Offices". The most Sam Spano gave me was, "My office is on Rte 112, Patchogue Long Island. I have some recordings of Sam being compiled for review at www.samspano.com (site coming soon)
I told Sam I wanted to place a binder on the property and he set up an immediate meeting with Salvatore Pane.
Now the story gets real interesting. I met Salvatore with my cousin and daughter and placed a $100.00 binder on the property. Salvatore initially said, "I don't need binders. If you want the property you need to only have the highest bid. Then, he held out in plain view all of the other bids and began to recite their amounts.
"I have one for 260K, another for 263K and another for 265K". Each binder he flashed had a check attached to it. I bid $270K and Sal said, "Hey? That's not necessary, you only need to bid 267,500K and the property is yours".
I then gave him 100.00 as a binder but had to force it on him. As we lightly chatted Sal played back his answering machine. The messages on his machine were mostly about interested parties on 48 Elizabeth Way.
I'd have to say at that moment I detected a tad of "slime factor". Why? Why would anyone breach the confidentiality of such messages in a broadcast of the messages using a speaker phone? It just seemed odd.
Sal looked at my daughter and said, "Is that your beautiful little girl? Will she be living there?" I replied: "Yes, I am recently divorced and my cousin lives on the same street. This will be good for family reasons". Sal replied, "Okay. F*** the investors." (I had now hoped my daughter wasn't listening. I was not happy with his language)
Sal somehow was not able to provide me with a receipt for the binder but I was Okay with that since my cousin was there for a witness. While this guy seemed a little shady, he was also endearing. His kind comments about my daughter probably weakened my defenses a tad.
Before we continued about Elizabeth Way, Sal starting flashing information about other potentially "better deals" and started pushing a property in Eastport Long island.
Anyway, I said my partner and I would go all cash if necessary but would like a few days to examine financing options. This all happen on September 4th, 2004. We left the office and on Monday, I received a message from Sam Spano that the contracts were shipped to my attorneys office. I immediately played with a few mortgage applications and was approved for 95% financing. Salvatore contacted me saying, "Howard. I know they say you are approved for 95% but these banks all say that and then change their minds 2 weeks before closing. I can give you the mortgage. I own the Bank".
Sounded reasonable so I then went in with my partner on September 11th and applied for a mortgage. BEFORE I INVOKED THE MORTGAGE APPLICATION I REQUESTED THAT SAM SPANO BE CONTACTED TO MAKE SURE WE WERE NOT TOO LATE AS WE HAD NO SIGNED CONTRACT.
Sal contacted Sam and asked about the property's availability. Later in this article, I will elaborate about ALL Island Purchase Corp, soon to be posted at: http://www.allislandpurchasecorp.com It turns out that the property is owned by Sal under this corporations name. Sal had always represented that the property was owned by USA Mortgage Bankers, not another entity.
Um, so lets get this right. Sal owns the Bank. Sal owns All Island Purchase Corporation. Sam is the "alleged" agent. Miss D is the mortgage app processor. I'd say that Sal is pretty much aware of every move made on any of his properties. Especially one that he finances and sells, no? Okay. We go on.
My partners credit rating was so high Sal commented, "In 25 years I have only seen one other rating this high and that was my own. This is approved!". Followed by, "I'd rather have the mortgage then the cash any day".
Recap: Banker who is also seller now has a approved deal.
(Sounds good, right?)
So I then say, well lets sign the contract. can you make sure you have the money by your imposed deadline of the 29th? Sal just laughed and said, "I am the bank! Of course. hahahah." I then said, "well...lets get Sam on the phone". Sal got Sam on the phone in a phone conference using the speaker/conference phone.
Here is a brief excerpt of the call:
Sal: "Hi Sam. I have Howard Ryan and Bob H. here and they are approved for the mortgage.
Sam: "Hi Howard, Hi Bob. Congratulations"
Howard: "Thanks Sam"
Bob: "Thanks Sam."
Howard: "Sam, we need the contract updated since the original send requested 100% cash."
Sam: "No problem. I will have it sent over to your attorneys"
(Sound Good, right?)
Sal then shook hands with all of us and said, "Okay. Good luck with the home. Its a great deal and you have non idea how many people call me about that property". I thought, well...actually I do. Because Sal had once again played aloud messages from his recording machine. I am a stickler to watching peoples actions. I noticed that Sal was writing down peoples phone numbers as they spoke on his message machine. Unless he writes in short hand I thought it was odd that some of the numbers he wrote down never got past a scribbling of 3 numbers. Aren't there 7 numbers minimum? My cousin conferred. "Ya, you saw that too?".
Sal's secretary was also present. Her name will be Miss D. as we believe she is nothing more then a victim by association. She informed Bob that the papers signed would allow for a 53,000.00 withdrawal from Bobs account.
We left the office and celebrated what appeared to be a deal. I now had a home for me and my daughter near my other family members.
September 13th, Monday came and I was called multiple times by Miss D. saying, "Howard....we need you to come to the office with a check for $300.00 for the appraisal fee". That check was delivered Tuesday, September 14th around 9 or 10 a.m. We were given a receipt.
What followed from there was a chain of lies, deceit, chicanery, he said, she said, I thought, he thought and numerous non returned calls. Most if not all non returned calls were from Sam Spano. I believe Sam Spano to be an integral part of the 3 ring circus that is the fiber of this operation.
My attorneys called me and said. "We have attempted to communicate with the sellers attorneys via phone and fax and they just do not reply".
I started making calls frantically as of late Tuesday, September 14th 2004.
The calls were made over and over to:
James Drops The Bomb by Accident:
On Tuesday, Sams office line was answered by someone named: "James".
James said, "Is this about 48 Elizabeth Way?"
Howard: "Yes, I am buying it with my partner."
James: "I think that property went somewhere else"
James: "You better call Sam".
"I'm not getting involved in this one."
At this point, I was experiencing a tremendous amount of angst.
Sal was usually available and his textbook reply was "I called Sam to see what's going on with the delay on the contract and he did not return my calls".
I had to work hard to get Sam on the telephone. I was leaving numerous messages and he was NOT returning my calls. I was starting to get the feeling that these guys were double dealing.
Finally, I tracked down Sam. "I called Sal. he doesn't return my calls." and "....are you even approved for the mortgage?"
I was shocked and said, "What are you talking about? You were there in the conference call when we were congratulated!".
(What I think happened at this point was that they were stalling on the contract and using our approved application to compel another buyer to go all cash. They fished us along. Had they said, "Hey guys....we will process your mortgage application but we can't guarantee the property..." that would have been one thing. But they apparently were more interested in using deceit verses integrity. Looking back on the day of the application I do remember Sal acting rather uncomfortable. He seemed only interested in trying to sell us a different deal in East Port Long Island.)
It seemed that while I was able to contact both parties, they were incapable of contacting each other. That was strange because initially, Sal had indicated that the two worked together intimately.
On Wednesday, September 15th I was starting to panic. I was getting a lot of circular replies.
A calls B and tells B to call C. B and C break the chain and A (me) restarts the calls again.
I'm sure you have an idea of what I am talking about.
All stalling procedures in what appeared to be a well rehearsed and practiced scenario. I continued to try and nail down the contract but they would not cooperate. Especially this guy Sam. Jeeez. He just never returned calls after he promised he would. So, I left for Long Island at 4 a.m. on Thursday morning.
I finally contacted both Sam Spano and Salvatore around 9ish a.m. and they both repeated the prior act of "I called, he doesn't return my calls...etc." Sam seemed weary and uptight that I was pressing. Not at all what I'd expect from an agent who was soon to make a commission as a result of my purchase. Ya know? I asked Sam, did you sell this property to someone else? He said, "I have no idea. Let me call Sal. Do you have his cell number?", and I gave the cell number to Sam who now apparently lost Sal's number. arghhh. Sam continued: "Howard, I will call Sal and then you will be the next person I call". That was the last I ever heard of from Sam Spano.
At 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 16th I call Sal again. "The property is gone. Someone paid all cash".
I thought, "is this not something Sam should have called me with?".
So, over 700 miles of driving, an approved mortgage, handshakes, oral agreements, binders, appraisal fee's and numerous phone calls were all for naught. Our deal was apparently fished to compel another interested party to buy the property. If not, at the very least the day the took our mortgage application they clearly misrepresented the property as being OURS and made absolutely NO mention of a pending cash deal.
Lets Draw a Picture:
"Look. You see this? This is an approved application for 48 Elizabeth Way. I'm stalling on the contract so if you want it we will need cash NOW".
I'd say its entirely probable.
What will eventually make its way to this web site will be a copy of all complaints filed to:
Suffolk County Consumer Affairs
Suffolk County Better Business Bureau
New York State Banking Commission
New York State Realtors Commission
Holbrook, New York