In East Hampton, New York, The East Hampton Star
- A young couple who bought a house on Queens Lane in East Hampton wound up losing hard-earned money and being evicted in February when the Suffolk County sheriff’s office showed up at the door.
“I was seven months pregnant. There was two feet of snow outside,” Amanda Keyser said Monday. “It was a 72-hour eviction notice.”
Ms. Keyser was describing what happened 11 months after she and her husband thought they had purchased the house, at 128 Queens Lane, from Hampton Dream Properties, which is run by Michael O’Sullivan and has addresses in Remsenburg and on Fort Pond Boulevard in Springs.
With a baby on the way, and a son who is now 5, the two-bedroom, one-bathroom house seemed perfect. It had been in foreclosure for years, Ms. Keyser said. Her husband, Shaun Jones, a Montauk commercial fisherman, had several friends who had bought houses through Mr. O’Sullivan’s company, with an East Hampton man, Gerry Kucher, the real estate broker.
The website for Hampton Dream Properties L.L.C. describes itself as a “real estate investment company specializing in houses in foreclosure and pre-foreclosure.” The site goes on to say, “For over three years we have fought with banks all the way to the Supreme Court and have helped countless homeowners in the process.”
The company buys and sells at prices that are significantly below market. The Queens Lane house cost $160,000, according to the recorded deed listed in The East Hampton Star last year. Ms. Keyser, an East Hampton native, and Mr. Jones paid $55,000 up front, taking out a five-year mortgage for the balance.
Then came sweat equity, along with $80,000 to renovate the house, which was dilapidated. They replaced floors and walls, and were almost done, putting off reshingling until spring, when the sheriff came knocking.
After being served with the eviction notice, the couple called Mr. O’Sullivan. He insisted the sheriff was wrong and that the deed was free and clear of liens, Ms. Keyser said. Ms. Keyser learned that one of the several banks that had held the debt on the previous failed mortgage had challenged Mr. O’Sullivan’s right to sell the property, and had won the case. The couple were forced to place most of their belongings in storage and to move in with Mr. Jones’s parents in Montauk.
When they demanded their money back, they said Mr. O’Sullivan refused, offering instead to put them in another house temporarily until he found a permanent replacement. The couple refused the offer. Eventually, they said, Mr. O’Sullivan refunded the purchase price, but they are out the $80,000 they put into the house and are also paying off a loan they took out for its renovation, as well as a monthly storage fee.
“We were lucky,” Ms. Keyser said, alleging that “he is selling houses he doesn’t own.” Mr. O’Sullivan did not return calls asking for comment this week.
Meanwhile, another website calling itself Hampton Dream Properties has sprung up, which says Mr. O’Sullivan and his attorneys have been “reported to state and federal authorities.” It also lists seven houses in East Hampton, Amagansett, and Montauk, alleging that victims had lost large, and specific, sums of money.