Families all over Dallas-Fort Worth are left in a lurch after M. Christopher Custom Home Builder has filed for bankruptcy.
According to a report from NBC 5, several homeowners in developments across North Texas put significant deposits on half-constructed homes only to see that money disappear and no progress at their homesites. It’s a situation not unlike what former clients of Bella Vita Custom Homes are facing after that company declared bankruptcy.
Owned by Rudy Rivas, M. Christopher Custom Home Builder and was founded in 2006 and has built homes in developments such as Arlington’s Viridian; Colleyville’s St. Andrews; Remington Park in Fairview; The Lakes in Keller; Lewisville’s Highpoint Oaks; Brockdale and Rockland Farms in Lucas; Bristol Park in Lucas and Parker; Dallas’ M Streets; Prosper’s Christie Farms, Saddle Creek, and Whispering Farms; Mallard Reserve in Rowlett; Carillon and Highland-Southlake in Southlake; and Westlake’s Vaquero Addition.
While Rivas claims on his website that “Transforming dreams into reality,” is what M. Christopher Homes does best, many clients caught up in his company’s bankruptcy are in the middle of a personal nightmare. For a multitude of reasons, a homebuilder filing for bankruptcy is different — especially because those who suffer the most are families left without a home.
Take Gilbert and Heather Melendrez for example. The couple claims in the report from NBC 5 that M. Christopher Custom Home Builder took their life savings — more than $200,000 — and made almost no progress on their home. The Melendrez family bought a house that was already halfway under construction, putting down a deposit on the home, which when/if completed, would be a $1.3 million property.
In one instance, when a client was just about to move into their home built by Rivas’ company, the bank foreclosed on it. There was more than $1 million in debt tied to the property. Rivas wanted the client to pay it off, but the client balked.
Soon afterward, word got out that Rivas’ company was in hot water. The Melendrez family spent $200,000 before they found out about the company’s insolvency.
Before they could take action they say M. Christopher’s owners called a meeting with them wanting more cash.
“I said, ‘If you need more money it is because y’all are having financial problems.’ And they looked at each other and just stormed out of the house,” Gilbert Melendrez said.
NBC 5 tried to track down Rivas for weeks before he replied with this statement:
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have had to seek protection of bankruptcy. We are sincerely sorry for this situation,” he said.
Besides filing a lawsuit and becoming another in a long line of creditors, there is little a client trapped in a homebuilder’s bankruptcy can do. Could we be seeing a rash of custom home builders folding from economic pressure and too much demand?