House From Hell: Buyers' Nightmare Homes


Recently, they felt vibrations on their property and Millie Mendelsohn was zapped.

"The animals started going crazy on the property," Harold Mendelsohn said, "the horses and the dogs and the cats."

They've long abandoned the pond at their home after the fish died, they avoid the guest house and had the pool emptied. Now, they say, the sizzles spread to their home.

Among their reported maladies are intense headaches and a fear so strong, they've turned to using rubber. Harold Mendelsohn has to use rubber sheets to sleep while Millie uses rubber shoes in the shower.

But it is the kitchen she fears most. She won't even touch the faucet for fear of shock.

The Mendelsohns believe the stray power is coming from the power station just beyond the tree line in their backyard. They are suing their local power provider for $2.3 million. The utility said the couple is not entitled to any damages.

When they first moved in more than 20 years ago, the Mendelsohns didn't think the transformer would be a problem. But they estimate it has grown three times the size since.

"It's infuriating," Harold Mendelsohn said. "This was our dream situation, and I wish they could just fix it."

"It's just a nightmare," Millie Mendelsohn said. "We just have to leave it empty. Say goodbye to it."

Across the country, Nydia Regnier is just saying hello to her hellish home wreckers in the sky. The Regniers moved from bustling Chicago for a more serene lifestyle in Louisville, Ky.

"It's a great neighborhood and the people here are so nice," Regnier said.

The not-so-nice part is that the home is two miles away from an international airport.

When she went to look at the home, it was in the middle of the day and there wasn't a plane overhead. Daytime air traffic involves mostly small, twin-engine, regional jets. But at night, Louisville becomes the world hub for the giant package company, UPS.

On nights where the wind or weather require planes to shift their usual flight path, which happens about once a week, the sky lights up with jumbo jets every few minutes until 3 a.m.

Just like with the Hankinses and Mendelsohns, disclosure laws were not on the Regniers' side.

"They didn't have to tell us," Regnier said. "Some people, maybe, are just more desperate to sell the house than they are to do right by other people."

Louisville has been wrestling with this headache for more than a decade since UPS moved into town, Louisville airport's deputy executive director Karen Scott said.

"We've sound treated 135 units," Scott said. "We replace out windows and doors, provide attic insulation -- in some cases, heating ventilation and air conditioning."

But Regnier's home is located just nine houses outside of the cut-off line so she's out of luck.

"I can't go to that next block," Scott said. "The Federal Aviation Administration won't approve that for us, to be able to do that. Our community noise forum is working with the legislature on homeowners who are just outside the line.

"There really is a limited amount of what we can do," she said.

The FAA pays 90 percent of the estimated-$50,000-per-house insulation program.

"There are fees already in place that support the program that we're talking about," Scott said. "Where do you draw the line? And then you've got people on the next block over, what about us?"

Scott said they continue to work within the constraints and regulations they have but they just can't help everyone.

The Mendelsohns are suing their local power provider and asking for $2.3 million to relocate.

The Hankinses continue to pay the mortgage on their empty home and rent a second house to live in.

Freddie Mac said the couple should have done their own testing and the house was bought "as is."

But for the Hankins family, they may never buy another home again.

"Home ownership is the American dream, right?" Hankins said. "And when your dream becomes a nightmare, [it] makes it really hard to want to go back and start all over again."

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