Publisher’s Note: A few months ago, two of the most well-known, highly promoted home builders in North Texas filed for bankruptcy, leaving scads of consumers who thought they were building custom-built homes loaded with liens and unpaid subcontractor bills. These were builders who advertised everywhere, won accolades for being the “best” in their business, and filled street after street from Park Cities to North Dallas with shiny new $2 to $3 million mansions.
If this had happened in 2007, when the lending market dried up and home prices plummeted, it may have been swept up as a sign of the times. But our housing market is the healthiest it has ever been. Home prices are rising, and inventory is low. How in the world could two luxury home builders blow it in this market? Bethany Erickson has been researching Bella Vita Custom Homes and other builders in a months-long investigation that uncovered more than 20 victims in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone. Instead of getting their dream custom-built home, these buyers got a nightmare.
“Your baby’s heart problem ain’t my problem,” the voice on the other end of the phone told Sue. The turn that conversation, which the new mother said happened after months of pleading with the builders of her home to fix major issues with the new abode, took her aback. The voice on the other end, she says, was Tracey Clem, who belongs to the family that owns Bella Vita Custom Homes.
When Sue and her husband, Pete (their names have been changed for privacy reasons) found out they were expecting their first child, they wanted to find that perfect home in that perfect neighborhood — just like many expectant parents. And when they found a big home built by the popular builder, they began picturing the day they would bring their daughter home to it. (more…)