The builder took my home, what can I do?

Asked by Link, San Jose, CA Tue Feb 19, 2008

I had put several grand down to reserve a lot at Gables End new home community in Mountain View, CA. I thought I was good until they frame the houses and I can take a hard hat tour of the house.
I received a call the next day stating there was a mistake and I reserved a lot that was slated to be a model, therefore the builders took it away from me. At this point, the majority of the lots of phase 1 have been reserved (the very few left are plans I don't want). They tell me I can have first pick on phase 2 but at a higher price and later delivery. This is impossible for me as I have to buy a home buy a certain date as part of a work contract stipulation.
So I ask all the realtors out there, what can I do? I did nothing wrong and it was the sales center and builder who got their lines crossed and let me put money down to reserve a lot I shouldn't have been able to. So because of their mistake, I lose out on a house that I really wanted. Has big corporation won again????

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Joe Bourland, Agent, Avondale, AZ
Wed Feb 20, 2008
Link,

Even a well qualified and competent agent could not have helped you in this situation. We as agents take care of a lot of negotiations and resolve many problems. But it seems that this issue is outside the scope of a real estate agent and will certainly need the assistance of an attorney. No one can accurately comment on your options without reading the contracts that were signed and knowledge of real estate law in your city, county and state.
Web Reference:  http://www.joearizona.com
2 votes
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Sat Mar 1, 2008
Not only would I contact an atorney, I would also contact the local television stations who would love a story like this. It might make the builder think twice about their decision. Try 7 on your Side on KGO, and Tom Vacar on KTVU, CH 2.
Web Reference:  http://www.cindihagley.com
1 vote
, ,
Fri Feb 22, 2008
An attorney is a good, but costly option. Another possibility is that the "squeaky wheel gets the oil." Builders don't like bad press. It's hard enough to sell homes without needing to worry about a bad reputation for taking homes away from potential buyers. I would suggest that you locate someone as high as possible at Regis Homes and send them and everyone involved a letter in writing stating what had happened and demand for them to offer to make things right. Can't promise that this will lead to something, but it won't hurt. Perhaps a call to the local consumer rights news channel would be next?
Web Reference:  http://www.AlexWangHomes.com
1 vote
Joe Bourland, Agent, Avondale, AZ
Tue Feb 19, 2008
Your question is best asked to an attorney. Builder contracts are generally written in favor of the builder. An attorney should be able to assist and will likely be worth the cost.
Web Reference:  http://www.joearizona.com
1 vote
Michelle Car…, Agent, Coppertino, AL
Sat Mar 1, 2008
First real question is what contract did you use? If it was the builder's boilerplate, there's likely an "out" for them in this situation. If you used a CAR or PRDS new home contract and a REALTOR, maybe there's a way to salvage this.

Everyone has contributed thoughtful answers--have you considered an "out of the box" option? I'd suggest enlisting an attorney's service to at least write an opinion letter re: your rights (as in, CA law generally regards buyer can force a seller to sell according to contract terms). If you used an agent who's a REALTOR, he/she has access to CAR attorneys to assess the situation. Letters to the corporation as high up as possible is great--especially if you write in a non-threatening way, that if they don't give you phase 2 at same terms as phase 1 or follow my alternative below, you'll feel like visiting the development daily with a sign, "This builder broke my heart. Talk to me before you buy." (I'm sure an attorney can advise you better on that but you can see where I'm going here.)

That said, why not try to negotiate a compromise? Let you close on the Phase 1 lot/home if required to meet your work contract, and rent it to the builder to use it as a model home (at your PITI of course), with a stipulation they will have it professionally cleaned and delivered to you upon their completion of the model home in Phase 2?

FYI, Link, all this free advice you're getting is why people use professional REALTORs in the first place.
0 votes
Duane Murphy, Agent, Appleton, WI
Wed Feb 20, 2008
Wow! I feel for your situation. Unfortunatly you are going to need to get an attorney involved if you hope to have any recourse in this situation. Hopefully with a lawyer involved you can get an arbitration meeting of some sort and get a phase 2 lot at the same price and have the home built in a time frame that works for everyone.
Another option if you can find a lot or area/subdivision that you would be happy with is to see if they would refund your money in full to avoid involving a lawyer and find another builder that will build your home. There are a ton of builders out there right now looking for customers, especially ones as presssed to build as yourself.
0 votes
Dot Chance, Agent, Burbank, CA
Wed Feb 20, 2008
Link, Joe is right - you need an attorney. I would ask my agent what attorney he/she uses. I know that my company, Keller Williams Studio City, has an attorney available to us at all times. See if your agent has the same, if not - who does she/he recommend? Has your agent spoken to his/her broker about the situation? If so, what did that broker say about it?
0 votes
Link, Home Buyer, San Jose, CA
Wed Feb 20, 2008
We did have a realtor with us and she's been the one going back and forth with the sales office and the builder. Basically, it seems the builder folded their arms and said "deal with it". But as a realtor, what can you do differently?
0 votes
Realtor, ,
Wed Feb 20, 2008
Most buyers don't know that you can take your Realtor with you when you purchase a new build. Since you are on your own, the best thing to do would be to hire a Real Estate Attorney to advise you on this matter.
0 votes
Dot Chance, Agent, Burbank, CA
Tue Feb 19, 2008
I would consult a real estate attorney and I would contact the department of real estate. If that is the lot you were promised and that is the one you want I would pursue it and let them know that I was not going to let it slide!
0 votes
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