Buffalo pair accuse real estate broker of deception

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Julia Timm gets around in her motorized wheelchair, after her badly burned foot was amputated following an accident at home.

Julia and her friend, Joanne Borzelleri have a wheelchair ramp leading into their apartment, but once you get inside, there is not much room to move around, leaving Julia feeling cramped.

“I have to have a little more room than this, because right now all I can go is from here to the dining room to the kitchen, and my bedroom.”

The pair has been searching for a wheelchair accessible home, and thought they found a house, a couple of blocks away, on Craigslist that they liked, which seemed to be listed by a real estate broker–Sylvia Black of Affordable Homes and Apartments.

Borzelleri met Black at the house, because Timm was in the hospital at the time, and Joanne said she liked it.

They said Black told them the house was listed for $33,000 and asked for a 10% down payment, amounting to $3,300 which they paid to Black, in cash.

But Borzelleri said the next time she talked to Black, she was told they were outbid, and then when Joanne and Julia discovered the listing agent for the house was not Sylvia Black, they asked for their money back.

Joanne said Black eventually sent them $2,500 in Western Union money orders, which was $800 short of a full refund.

“We know it didn’t go into an escrow account, and I told her that. She says ‘Sorry that was my mistake. I will send you out the balance’, and to this date we still have not received it.”

News 4 talked to a person identifying herself as Sylvia Black on the phone, and asked if she had any intention of returning the $800, and she asked why Joanne and Julia weren’t taking her to court to get it.

After that terrible experience, Borzelleri and Timm’s house search has taken a turn for the better. Real estate agent Karen Tunis, of Metro Roberts Realty has found them a house to buy, and the contract is pending.

Tunis said she is happy to help. “Hopefully, in the next couple of days we will be moving on with it, and they can do their home inspection, and they will have a nice happy home that they can live happily ever after in.”

Joanne and Julia told News 4 that they are excited about finally finding a place that will give Julia lots of room for her wheelchair. The pair is also raising questions about the ethics involved with the transaction Sylvia Black had attempted, and they are contacting state officials about it.

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