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A Desperate Deal

In a series following residents of Lakewood, N.J.’s Tent City homeless community, the story of Doug Hardman, a Dash Farrow client, is told. The story focuses on the sale of Doug’s Bayville home by Wallace Doman III, a volunteer housing director, for which Doug received no compensation.


What happened to Doug Hardman’s house?
The anatomy of a puzzling property sale

Published January 10, 2011 – Asbury Park Press (


Chris Hardman, who moved into Lakewood’s Tent City with his father, Doug, last February, has kept STEPS, the nonprofit agency designated to help people like him get out of the woods, at arm’s length.

The main reason, he said, is that he views the agency, whose acronym stands for Solutions to End Poverty Soon, as being “in cahoots” with the township in trying to shut the camp down.

Chris, 21, also said that while he might be eligible for some type of housing assistance, he doesn’t want to wind up marooned in a motel in Seaside Heights, where many of Ocean County’s homeless are placed, with no way to reach the temporary jobs he has been getting on a fairly regular basis in the Lakewood area.

But his father, Doug, 58, who says he suffers from alcoholism, has dealt with Wallace Doman III, who serves on a voluntary basis as the agency’s housing director. Doman’s business deal with Hardman is unrelated to the agency.

In the spring, Doug Hardman moved into the basement of Doman’s home in Jackson.

Doman, 34, is a real estate agent and investor who specializes in refurbishing and reselling distressed properties. While Doug was living in Doman’s home, the two men talked about partnering in a deal to sell Doug’s waterfront property in Bayville, Berkeley Township, which at that point was in foreclosure.

“This isn’t STEPS, this is me, myself,” Doman said, referring to his business dealings with Doug Hardman. “I’m buying a crack house in Freehold right now. These people come to me. … This is how I feed my family.”

On April 6, Hardman transferred the Bayville property to Platinum Home Management, according to a deed on file in the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, a company Doman says he owns. The deed says that the transfer was made for $50, but both men acknowledge that no money actually changed hands.

The terms of their agreement were spelled out in a signed contract that Doman provided to the Asbury Park Press. Dated April 6, the same date that’s on the deed, it states that Platinum Home Management would “look to get” two loans: one to pay off Hardman’s $120,000 mortgage, and another for “around 30,000” to fund “repairs” on the property.

In addition, the company promised to recover a vehicle Hardman owned that was impounded after he was charged with drinking while intoxicated in Beachwood in 2009. He was found guilty of the charge, municipal court records show.

The contract states that Platinum Home Management would “market” the property for sale, and that if it sold, the company would receive a “10% fee for services.”

Doman said the balance would have gone to Hardman, though the agreement is silent on that point.

Doman said that soon after he acquired the deed he had second thoughts about partnering with Hardman on the sale of the property. Doman said that in the presence of his attorney, Shirley Quinones, of Toms River, he offered to transfer the deed back to Hardman, but Hardman refused.

“I didn’t do nothing to this man for four, five months but try to help him get back on his feet,” Doman said. “He met my lawyer four, five times.”

Quinones confirmed that those meetings took place, and that Hardman had refused to take back the deed. She said she had no further involvement in the matter after the deed transfer.

Later, after Doman put a “for sale” sign on the property, he said he learned that two other investors, Donald Osborne and Michael Pezzuto, claimed to have already signed a contract with Hardman to buy the property.

A contract to that effect, dated Jan. 20, 2010, and on file with the county clerk, lists a purchase price “not to exceed $115,000,” but Osborne says that was a tentative figure. The actual sale price, which isn’t stated in writing, was going to be $200,000, he said. Under the deal, Hardman would have cleared approximately $60,000, depending on the final payoff amount for the two mortgages on the property, Osborne said.

That contract wasn’t finalized, however, because “Doug disappeared on me,” Osborne said. He said he had offered to pay for Doug Hardman and his son Chris to stay in a hotel until the closing, but the elder Hardman declined.

“I was a nice guy all through this scenario,” said Osborne, 50, of Toms River.

Saying that he believed Doug Hardman had misled him, Doman viewed their marketing agreement as null and void, though he retained the title to the property. In light of the prior contract, he said, he felt he had no legal option but to sell the property to Osborne and Pezzuto.

On July 2, Platinum Home Management sold the property to Osborne and Pezzuto for $215,000, according to a deed on file with the county clerk. Osborne said he and Pezzuto, of Brick, wound up having to pay more than they initially planned in order to obtain clear title to the property from Doman.

Of the purchase amount, $136,207 was used to pay off the mortgages on the property, and $66,510 went to Platinum Home Management, according to the settlement statement.

Doman said that because he controlled the title and was no longer bound to his agreement with Hardman, he wasn’t legally obligated to share any of the proceeds with Hardman. Beyond having his mortgages paid off, Hardman received no compensation from the sale, both Doman and Hardman said.

Osborne said the Bayville property is currently under contract for a sale price of
$345,000. He said he and Pezzuto spent approximately $80,000 to remodel the house.

More About the Tent City case:

The Ben Dash, Esq. and Mary Chatten, Esq., of the law office of Dash Farrow LLP represent Doug Hardman in this real estate fraud case.

Need legal help with a real estate situation?
Contact the law firm of Dash Farrow at (856) 263-3198 for a consultation.