As his July 15 moving date nears, Jeremy Dodge’s seller’s remorse has begun to intensify.
Back on Nov. 7, when Dodge finalized the sale of his 16-acre homestead in bucolic East Montpelier, he believed the deal he cut with its buyer, Peter Shumlin, was the only way to avoid imminent ouster from the residence his now-deceased parents built 31 years ago.
He’d accumulated more than $17,000 in back taxes since inheriting the property in 2009, and the looming tax sale, Dodge says he believed at the time, would result in his eviction from the property.
So without a lawyer to represent him, Dodge signed a purchase-and-sale agreement in which Shumlin, the second-term Democratic governor of Vermont, acquired the property for $58,000 — less than a quarter of the $233,700 for which the homestead was then appraised.
“I could not afford a lawyer,” Dodge said. “And (Shumlin) said we’d just use his lawyers.”
The sale price included $9,000 representing the value of the rent Shumlin said he was saving Dodge by allowing him to remain in the home from November through July, and a $9,000 “seller repair credit” — money Dodge won’t get if he hasn’t upgraded the condition of the property by the middle of next month.
“I don’t have nothing bad to say about him, but yeah, I got ripped off, plain and simple,” Dodge said Tuesday. “I wish it had turned out differently. I wish that I had let it go to tax auction.”
An East Montpelier town lister has since lowered the appraised value to $140,000, owing to the decrepit condition of the house in which Dodge has lived since before his parents died.
In an emailed statement late Tuesday, Shumlin said the sale price was fair.
“I believe $58,000 was a fair price, and we both agreed to it,” Shumlin said. “The house is in terrible shape; it will have to be knocked down or totally gutted.”
As for Dodge’s lack of counsel, Shumlin said he urged him last year to remedy that.
“He didn’t have a lawyer on this sale,” Shumlin said. “But I did recommend it.”
But the 53-year-old Dodge, a parolee with a criminal rap sheet that includes convictions for drugs and domestic assault, says that if he knew last year what he knows now, he would have been able to avoid losing the house, or at least sold it more profitably.
Check out the full story, plus pictures of Dodge and his property and links to relevant documents, at: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20130522/NEWS03/705229893