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New Home Buyers Beware

We want to share our experience so hopefully other new home buyers don't make the same mistakes.

We found a 5br 3.5ba new construction home in Berkeley Heights built by Nicholas Cocuzza (Cocuzza Construction) in the spring of 2013. We agreed on a price.  During attorney review Nic Cocuzza (the builder, seller, and agent - through Keller Williams) asked to not have an inspection and asked for $20k in cash upon completion of attorney review. Our lawyer advised us against these items and they were not included in the contract.

The first inspection was stopped mid-way through because the inspector said that the house had too many issues to do a proper inspection. The inspector identified multiple leaks in the bathroom, incorrect installation of hardiplank siding, lack of proper drainage with the stone facade in the front, and multiple other issues.

We met with Mr Cocuzza and he said he would fix all of the items before another inspection.

Weeks later, Mr Cocuzza said he was ready for another inspection, but when the inspector arrived the bathroom still had leaks, the hardiplank was only partially fixed, the stone was not fixed, the support beams in the basement were not to code, the house smelled like gas, and there were several other issues.

At this point we thought Mr Cocuzza was either unwilling or unable to fix inspection issues that seemed very significant to us. As a result we canceled the contract.

Unfortunately, Mr Cocuzza was unwilling to sign-off on the contract cancellation, and we still had our first deposit in escrow.

Subsequently, Mr Cocuzza sold the home for several thousand dollars more than we were going to pay. However, after many months and a lot of legal fees, the only way that Mr Cocuzza was willing to release our deposit was by us paying him half of or first deposit.

In the end, this process cost us a lot of stress and a lot of money.

We want other new home buyers to beware: 1) read the fine print of your real estate contract; 2) know your rights with regards to your deposit and escrow account; 3) don't assume that just because it is new construction it is high quality and issue free; 4) only deal with builders you trust.

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