Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Home building process continues......

Out Lot:

Its January 12th and traffic had been slow because of the holidays.  Our contingency from Decemember had expired and it was time to re-up for another 30 days.  When we turned the contingency in, Norfolk decided they would only renew it if we could hold both house notes(current home and new home being built).  We had to go back to our loan officer and fortunately thru the grace of God we were qualified because I had some negative school loan documentation which would basically only get better the more time passed.  Even though we did qualify for the two notes it was still not a thought we wanted to entertain of having to pay two house notes so the current house needed to be sold asap.  Now if you recall we did have an issue with incentives the builder was offering when we first initially signed the contract.  Well thru some looking around on the builders website I did notice that for the month of Decemeber(it had not been taken off of their website yet) they were offering $10k in incentive and now it was January, they were only offering $1,500.  Now there was no way I was going to accept not getting the $10k in incentives if I could help it so I drafed another letter to send to Norfolk:


To: Chris Jeter

We would like to thank Norfolk for affording us the opportunity to build our dream home. As previously stated we were approved initially to build under one income only since we were going to use a VA certificate and have been under contingency while we attempted to sale our home. Unfortunately due to the slow market we have not been able to sell our home but have not wavered in our decision to continue to build with Norfolk. Since we have not been able to sell our home we have been exploring our options so that we could hold up our end of the contract. We spoke with Chris Sanders at GMAC (Norfolk's approved lender) and have been qualified to hold our current home mortgage as well build our new home. In our previous request we wanted to renew the contingency for another 30 days which was conditionally granted. At this point we would not like to renew and instead want to remove the contingency immediately to start building and qualify to receive the December promotion of $10K to spend on upgrades. We are aware the promotion did end on December 31st, but since we were under contingency in the month of December and are only 12 days out, we would hope that Norfolk would extend this offer to us as well. When we originally signed with Norfolk the incentive amount offered to us was $8,500.00. Although we did experience a lot of misinformation and were offered a lot of things incorrectly that were taken back from us, we have stuck by our commitment to build with Norfolk and would hope that Norfolk would allow us to take advantage of the incentive. We want to thank everyone at Norfolk for allowing us the opportunity to build in Blair Oaks and look forward to moving into our new home.

Thank you,

Once we got a response back from Norfolk, finally something went in our favor.  Thru all the mishaps we were suppose to get $11,100 in incentives, then $8,500 in incentives, both of which the builder withdrew from us and we ended up getting $10k plus a free fireplace so our incentive amount total came to $11,500, more than we were alloted initially.  We were very excited about this and ready to start construction on our new home.  Next came our time to pick our selections.  This was a blessing and a curse as well.  We were happy to have the money to spend but there was a lot of pressure as well.  The incentive was offered on a Friday and the builder wanted us to have all of our selections done by Sunday which we honestly felt just was not enough time.  Now I dont't want to sound ungrateful because it is a good problem to have, it was just stressfull trying to make decisions that we both wanted and could live with in such a short amount of time.  We did make our selections by the weekend but as the next week went by, the more we talked about it the more unhappy we were because we felt like we just rushed thru it to get it done.  In hindsight we should have just informed the builder that we needed more time and if they wanted our business they would have to allow time to make our selections.  

Another issue we had was with out lot.  Since we started off with one sales person and manager and they both were no longer with the company, things that we were told were not balancing out.  Our lot once it was excavated didn't seem as flat as what we were told.  There were also two banks of trees that my wife had issues with as well.  One of the banks when it rained collected alot of water and was about 3 feet deep or so.  I just assumed it would filled correctly but at this point since we had been given so much misinformation, my wife wanted to question the builder to make sure it would be filled correctly.  At this point we requested another meeting to walk the lot with the GC before signing any paperwork so that we could see where the property lines would be and so forth.

I have to mention that one thing that frustrated us greatly and made no sense to us was the builder trying to charge us for wanting to price out an upgrade that we would pay for.  This just sounds so asinine to me that I can't comprehend it so just to summarize the builder want to charge me more money so that I can get a price in order spend more money with them?  For example, the builder has an upgrade sheet which I had of the prices they charge. 

(Once I get a chance to scan it in, I will post a link just to give others and idea of what builders are charing for upgrades in our area)

If we wanted to select something and it was not on the upgrade sheet price list, the builder wanted a $100 check up front as a deposit and if you chose not to select the upgrade once the price was given (and you have no idea of what the price would be), you forfeited your deposit!  That is crazy in itself but if you wanted something that was not cosmetic but structual, the deposit price was $500 and if you chose not to select the upgrade once the price was given, you forfeited your deposit!  We were very interested in extending our bedroom so that we could have a small sitting area.  I ended up writing the builder again in the letter below:


February 6th, 2012

Hello and hope your day is going well. The reason we are writing is to address more concerns that we are encountering.   About two weeks ago we requested to have our master bedroom extended by 3 feet to the rear of the home. We were told that extending the master bedroom would require special pricing and since it was structual, we would be required to pay a $500 deposit. This didn't seem logical to us because sitting rooms are an option for all models and master bedrooms so we knew it could be done, but we went ahead and put down the $500 deposit to ensure that the moving process would continue to progress forward.  The request was reviewed by structual engineers and we signed off on the special pricing request and was told that everything was fine and we were waiting to be scheduled for our pre-construction meeting.   Now, right before we are scheduled for our pre-construction meeting we are told that the bedroom can't be extended to the rear due to the building envelope on lot 11.   This was very disheartening to hear because it basically bring back memories of all of the misinformation that we have been given since day 1 when we started this process with Norfolk. Even going back to wehn the original contract was written with Amy Axon and Karen Cassada, we were offered multiple times to add a sitting room and/or a sunroom room. It just seems as if the ball has been dropped several times during this process. If our lot could not have any additions added to rear of the structure, this would have been some valuable and great information to know back in July of 2011.  So in essence we were offered this option in July twice by Amy and Karen, were told again just two weeks ago that it could be done and now we are a week or so out from pre-construction, we are just being informed that lot 11 can't handle any additional square footage to the rear of the home.

Our next issue are the two banks of trees on the lots and one of the banks appears to be a creek or some type of resovoir holding water. Back in July we were told by Amy Axon that the trees would be cut down, the large hole would be filled in with dirt and the lot leveled off as much as possible. We were also pointed out how far the lot would extend back as well. Now that we are being told that the bedroom can't be extended to the rear of the home or no additions can be done to the rear, we really have concerns now on what the actual property lines are.   At this point we unfortunately don't feel comfortable with any of the information that was relayed to us by Norfolk, Amy Axon or Karen Cassada.   Before going any further we would like to have someone come out this week and walk the lot with us to show us the actual property lines and also to ensure that the trees are going to be cut, the hole filled in with dirt and the lot leveled as much as possible. We would like to get this in writing, signed and included in our contract so that everyone is aware of the expectations on the front end and there are no suprises at the end.

At this point we have to admit that our home buying process so far with Norfolk has been filled with nothing but broken promises and alot of misinformation. We don't believe that Norfolk is giving misinformation intentionally but that doesn't change the fact that is keeps occuring. Throughout the building process we have kept out end of the deal and have done whatever has been asked of us by Norfolk. Although we came to the conclusion that that Norfolk homes could meet our family's need, we are also aware that Norfolk is not the only builder that can fufill our needs. We interviewed many builders before finally making a selction on who we beleived could help us achieve our goals of new construction and home ownership. At this point we do have to admit that if the rest of the homebuilding process is anything remotely close to what we have experienced so far and is any indication of what is to follow, honestly we have our doubts if we would like to continue our patnership with Norfolk. As I stated previously we have done everything that has been asked of us since day one and at some point we feel that Norfolk needs to make good on its promises and actually uphold its end of this deal to make this situation right and provide what was offered to us. We have documentation going back to day one on all of the misinformation we were given such as incorrect pricing on incentives, incorrecty incentives that were to be offered on the website for the Blair Oaks community, etc. Now whether that consist of bumping out the entire left side of the house 3 feet for the same price because that is what we were told initially which would give the house a more uniform look like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood, moving us to a different lot and Norfolk paying for the required crawl space, discounting the 4th bedroom to original price of $3,900 which was offered to initially, etc. we honestly feel that Norfolk needs to make this right. We have to say that if the situation were reversed and we were not able to uphold our end on the homebuying process we are pretty positive that Norfolk would be ready to take our deposit money. We could have easily taken all of documentation we have to media outlets, Homebuilders Association of Tennesse, National Home Builders Association or Better Business Bureau, etc to file complaints but we have chosen not to take take that action of recourse. Since we had an agreement with Norfolk, we feel thats its only right and not out of the question for Norfolk to make good on all of the misinformation that we have been given since day one.

Thank you,


We did get a meeting to walk the lot with the GC which was really no help at all (he has since left the company which delayed our build further and we have a new GC now).  Since the lot ahd not been surveyed he could only estimate where the property lines would be, which I honestly could do that.  He did state that the hole on the lot would need to be looked at by an engineer to see how it would be filled and it the lot would take a concrete slab or needed to built on a crawlspace.  Our next step was our agent wrote an addendum to Norfolk stating that the lot would be surveyed by an engineer on how it was to be filled, Norfolk would take the necessary steps to fill the hole correctly and then the engineer would come back and sign off that it was done correctly and we would get a copy of the engineered letter.  The builder stated they were not going to sign the addendum which had us puzzled because we weren't asking anything out of the ordinary so if they would not sign the addendum stating the actions they would take, what did they really have to hide?   Norfolk only wanted to give us a verbal indication of what they would do.  Sorry, but at point with all of the incorrect information we had been given, there was no way we were just going to take Norfolk's word for anything (especially when I even  heard they previous GC state they could just wash out some of the concrete trucks and pour the wasted concrete into the hold and fill it with dirt)!

Pictures of lot once the trees were taken up.

Below is a copy of letter from our realtor to Norfolk:


February 14th,

Good Morning. I received your voice mail last night and I spoke to Chris yesterday evening.
Per your email you indicated that the seller would not sign the addendum. In the voice mail you stated that the city has to issue a building permit before building begins.

How is the City going to know about the lot or if it needs to filled or was filled? A filled lot needs to be disclosed.   The hole on the lot is not noted on the land plat. They would not have notice of the lot prior to issuing a building permit if they were not provided with the information. Is Norfolk going to hire an engineer before they request a building permit and submit all documentation to the City?

Please provide in writing what steps the builder is going to do in addition to getting the building permit.  Is Norfolk going to hire a State of Tennessee licensed engineer to inspect the lot before Norfolk touches it to provide detailed information about the lot?  Is Norfolk going to take those steps provided by engineer to correct the lot and have the engineer inspect the work and certify the lot?

I dont understand why the builder does not want to sign a document stating they are going to do these steps.

Please advise.



At this point it gets funny because Norfolk was still declining to sign the addendum or put anything in writing on how the lot would be filled.  I took it upon myself to contact the city and ask some general questions about building permits and if a hole on my lot was not on the land plat, when the inspector came out how would they know to look for it and what were my actions of recourse I could take.  Well my simple letter emailed to the secretary at the city ended up getting forwarded to the head person of codes of the city, the county engineer and even the Mayor as well.  The city ended up sending someone out that day in order to look at the lot and contacted Norfolk as well.  This was not my intentions by any means but it sure did upset the builder because now I had untentionally put the city and the codes department all into their business.  This could have all been avoided if they would have just disclosed the process they were going to take in fixing the lot.  Although not my intention to stir up a mess,  I don't apologize at all because it did raise awareness in order to  make sure things were done correctly and I know if the shoe was on the other foot, they would have done the samething as well in order to protect the best interest of the family.   To make things even funnier Norfolk had their realtor contact my realtor and tell her to get her client(me)  calmed down because in their words, "I was out of control!"  This was very comical to me to say the least plus they did email something generic pertaining to the steps they would take to have the hole filled correctly.  My question, why wasn't this just done up front?

2nd red flag we should have pulled out the deal!!!

Well we ended up making several revisions going back and forth with the builder who at this time I'm sure was frustrated with us but we felt this was a big investment for us so we needed to be happy and felt that we got it right. The main structual changes we ended up with was adding a 4th bedroom and a 3rd car garage. We of couse wanted more high end finishes but felt that in the end those could be added the late. We needed to get the structure in tact first, which we did and we were happy with our choices.  We knew with all of the changes something was going to go wrong or be left off so the journey continues.......

Pics of the generic floorplan that was available and elevations we had to choose from are below.  Will upload our specific floor plan and elevation shortly.


                                                                       Elevation A

Elevation B

Elevation C

Friday, May 25, 2012

Start of homebuilding process

Today I will discuss the start of our home buying process (if you missed our home selling process, view the previous post).  We have heard alot of horror stories how building a new house can be a total nightmare.  We thought this was a little exagerrated as we thought we had done our homework on selecting a builder.  Could it really be that bad to build?  Well we have been thru alot so far and maybe, just maybe this can help someone else to avoid the agony and pitfalls we have had to encounter.  While we were doing our home search we came across our builder, Norfolk Homes, located out of Ann Arbor, MI.  I will admit this has not been the most pleasant experience.  We have come to realize a builder who nickles and dimes you for everything and who we honestly feel we can not trust!  I will post below letters describing our series of events thats occured instead of retyping everything over.  Take notes :) and learn from our mistakes (get everything in writing) so your building process can be smooth sailing!  This letter went to the CEO of Norfolk homes in Ann Arbor, MI.

August 5, 2011

Attn: Kevin Belew, Co-Owner
Attn: Jim Franke, Co-Owner
Norfolk Corporate Offices
8178 Jackson Road, Suite D
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Dear Kevin Belew/Jim Franke,

Hello, my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a home. After comparing several builders in our area, we came to the conclusion that The Camden Model (elevation A) by Norfolk Homes would fulfill our family’s need. The option for the 4th bedroom was a big selling point as our family continues to grow. I am writing this letter to inform you of my dissatisfaction with the home buying process we have experienced with several of Norfolk’s new homes sales consultants and the Division Sales Manager for Tennessee as well. 

On July 17th we first met with your new homes sales consultant, Amy, at the Woodmont Subdivision and viewed the Paris II model. While viewing the model Amy mentioned the new subdivision of Blair Oaks. Amy informed us that Norfolk was offering double incentives for the month of July of $7,500 and we could take advantage of this offer if a contract was submitted before the end of July. We informed Amy that our house was on the market for sale and she stated that Norfolk did work with home sellers. We were advised that Norfolk would do a 90-day contingency on the sale of our home. It was explained that our offer would be locked in for 90 days and after the 90 days the transaction would be re-evaluated and could be renewed based on Norfolk’s decision. We were feeling very excited at this moment and we were given information on the Greenbriar and Camden models the included amenities for Woodmont and Blair Oaks subdivisions. We were informed we could actually look at the Camden model in the Oak Hills subdivision. On July 23rd we, along with our agent Andrea, went and viewed the Camden and met the new homes sales consultant, Chad. He was very knowledgeable of floor plans, elevations and options that were offered and we were very impressed. When asking about the cost of upgrades, this is the first experience of misinformation that we were given. Chad quoted us a price of $3,900.00 for the addition of a 4th Bedroom with included dormer on the Camden model and $1,900 for the addition of a dormer window in the bonus room. Chad did state that Oak Hall’s prices may differ slightly but he did give us a copy of Woodmont’s Pricing List for upgrades which listed the 4th bedroom with included dormer for $3,900 and the additional dormer in the bonus room for $1,900 just as Chad had quoted us. After viewing the Camden model and getting confirmation that we could add a 4th bedroom with included dormer for $3,900 and a dormer in the bonus room for $1,900, we started to lean towards using Norfolk as the builder of our new home. After further research on Norfolk’s company we discovered that since its inception in 1993, it had become the number one builder and land developer in the Ann Arbor, MI area and even expanded into additional markets in TN and AL. Even with the slow downturn in the market, Norfolk was still thriving with expansion so we felt we were dealing with a reputable company and we were convinced that Norfolk would be the builder we would use to build our new dream home.

On July 21st our agent, Andrea, confirmed with Amy(Norfolks sales consultant) that we would meet on July24th to submit a contract on the Camden model. On Sunday, July 24th, we, along with our agent and Amy, met at the Paris II model home in the Woodmont Subdivision. During this meeting we encountered more misinformation. We started to write the contract on the Camden (elevation A). The double incentive money for the month of July was $7,500. With the prices we had been quoted for upgrades, we wanted to add the 4th bedroom with included dormer for $3,900 and the dormer for $1,900 which would equal a total of $5,800. We thought we would still have $1,700 for cosmetic upgrades, which didn’t have to be written up at this time. We advised Amy that we wanted to finance so any structural additions or upgrades above that amount would be paid for out of the $7,500 incentive money which was being offered or we would pay for them out of pocket with cash.  With the $1,700 left in incentive money, we didn’t feel there would be any problems. At this point Amy informed us that Chad had quoted us incorrect pricing and the paperwork for Woodmont was incorrect as well. She stated the price of the 4th bedroom with included dormer in Norfolk’s system was actually $8,900 and not $3,900 as we had been quoted and verified on Woodmont’s paperwork as well.  Amy did apologize for the misinformation and stated since we were told the 4th bedroom with included dormer was $3,900 and the dormer in bonus room was $1,900 and given documentation to verify these prices, she would up our incentive money to $11,145. This amount would cover the cost of the 4th bedroom with included dormer ($8,900), the dormer in bonus room ($1,900) and a free garage door opener ($345).   We opted for the 2nd sink in the Maser Bathroom instead of a garage door opener so that would bring our total incentive total to $11,100. 

During this meeting we also encountered more incorrect information. The amenities list for Blair Oaks Subdivision states that free standard features in the community are stainless steel under mount sink and 6 lines (phone/cable). Amy did state to us that this information must have just been copied and pasted from Woodmont’s standard features list and that this was incorrect as well. She did state that she would honor what was on the amenities list for Blair Oaks, which we did sign, and we would receive at no cost because of an error on Norfolk’s part. After several discussion with Amy on different lots which were available it was also never disclosed to us that some of the lots in Blair Oaks had to built on crawl spaces and not slabs so this would add an additional $5,000 to the purchase as well. This was another surprise, which we were never told about, but since the lot (Lot 11) we selected was being constructed on a slab, luckily this did not affect us. So at this point we had an agreement that the incentive money would be increased to $11,100 and Norfolk would honor their errors in the amenities guide. Our agent did have some questions on the wording of the contract so she took the contract home to go over it. Amy and our agent, Andrea, met on Friday, July 29th to go over the wording of the contract. Our agent did verify with Amy that as long as the contract was written up and signed before the 1st of August (even thought no one would be in the office over the weekend) that all incentives would still be available. We all met back with Amy on Sunday July 31st in Woodmont to sign the final paperwork. Amy stated to us several times that there would not be any problem at all increasing the incentive money and that everything should be a go. We got copies of all the signed contracts and initialed paperwork for elevations, structural upgrades, etc. At this point we were very excited and even went to our selected lot, Lot 11, to put out a SOLD sign. This was a very exciting time for my family as Amy even took pictures of me and family on the lot in front of the SOLD sign so we had no reason to believe that the deal would not be done.

On August 3rd our agent, Andrea, delivered the bad news to us and we had to deal with
more incorrect information from representatives of Norfolk. She received confirmation from Amy that Norfolk would not honor the increase in incentive money of $11,100. This was very puzzling to us in the fact that we figured Amy would know what could and could not be offered. Amy stated that she could increase the incentive money so we had no reason not to believe otherwise since she was the new homes sales consultant for Blair Oaks community. Amy stated that Norfolk had countered our offer and even though we were given misinformation from Chad and the Woodmont pricing list, the price would still stand at $8,900 for the 4th bedroom with included dormer and $1,900 for the dormer in the bonus room. She also stated that Norfolk would not honor the $11,100 increased incentive she offered but would increase the amount to $8,900 to cover the cost of the 4th bedroom with included dormer. We were advised if we wanted the dormer in the bonus room ($1,900) and the 2nd additional sink in the master bath ($300), these options we would have to pay for out of pocket. Amy also indicated that Norfolk did not agree with the 90-day marketing/contingency period on our current residence, which was offered by Amy. She said that Norfolk only wanted it to be 30 days and they would reevaluate the contingency of home to sell and decide at that time to extend the contingency period. This was puzzling for a number of reasons. First, why would Amy offer the 90 days when it wasn’t doable? Also in the current real estate market today, its not that realistic to get our house under contract and closed within a 30-day timeframe depending on the buyer and buyer’s lender.

At this point we were honestly getting very frustrated because every time we hear back from Norfolk, it seems that information was changing. Amy did forward this to her division sales manager, Karen.   The response we got was that we should start with a purchase price plus the 4th bedroom with included dormer. When the contingencies were removed, we would write up addendum and deal with the $8,900 incentive money at that point. Any additional upgrades would be paid for cash out of pocket and this way everything would be zeroed out and this would not increase our purchase price which we wanted to finance. We felt we were getting the run around at this point with all of the misinformation but we felt concessions had been giving on both sides so this was a deal in the end we could agree to and live with. 

Now it is Friday morning, August 5, 2011, and we hadn’t heard anything back from Amy or
Karen in past two days. Amy gave our agent, Andrea, a call and asked had she heard from Karen? Andrea stated no she had not and Amy informed her at this time that Karen would be our new point of contact, as she was no longer employed with Norfolk effective immediately. Finally, my agent did receive a voice mail from Karen and returned her call. Now we received more misinformation from Norfolk. Karen stated she hated to be the bearer of bad news but that Norfolk would not honor the original incentive amount of $11,100 nor would they honor the counteroffer of $8,900 in incentives, which was just offered to us a few days ago. Karen also stated that the base price of the Camden A had been reduced to $5,000. The new price of the upgrade of a 4th bedroom with included dormer had increased to $9,500. Karen stated that Norfolk would not offer any incentives on offers until the sale of home contingency was removed and that they would not honor the $8,900 incentive which was agreed upon just a few days ago. She stated once the contingency was removed we would have to take whatever incentives were being offered at that time and if there were no incentives being offered, then we would not receive any.

At this point we feel that all of the misinformation given by Norfolk has caused us a
considerable inconvenience on our part. It seems as if information isn’t being distributed company wide and one part of the company isn’t aware of what the other part of the company is doing. For example if you look on Blair Oaks web site as of Friday night 08/05/2011, it states that granite countertops are an included feature, which I know is incorrect. Homebuyers don’t get to meet face to face with owners so representatives of your company are considered Norfolk to us. We feel that we have gone through proper chain of command dealing with our local Norfolk office to no avail. From our standpoint we fell that that the Tennessee regional office is attempting to sweep our issues to the side and finally correct all of its mistakes as they make the move from the Woodmont subdivision in to putting its focus strictly on Blair Oaks. This is the reason we are contacting Norfolk Corporate as a last effort for a resolution. We did research on Norfolk before deciding to go with the company as our builder and felt it was a reputable company. At some point integrity and honesty has to come into the picture as I feel Norfolk’s reputation is on the line not only with my family as a homebuyer but with our agent’s company Crye-Leike which is the number one real estate company in Tennessee. We are writing in hopes that Norfolk will do what is right and honor its offers that were extended to us. It seems that when Norfolk was focusing on Woodmont and not giving a lot of attention to the Blair Oaks community. There have just been countless surprises, a lot of misinformation and then a lot of just flat out wrong information. We do understand sometimes there are increases in materials cost and it would be very nderstandable if we had just started trying to write a contract today, we would fully expect to go by the updated list on 08/04/2011. This is not the case as our contract was written in July. Therefore, we would fully expect Norfolk to keep its’ word and deliver what was offered to us. If you would look into this we would greatly appreciate it.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon,


Here is the response back from Norfolk Homes on August 8, 2011

Kevin Dattilo - Division President of Tennessee
Kevin Martin - CEO Norfolk Homes

Good afternoon,

My name is Kevin Martin, I am President and CEO of Norfolk Homes. I have read your letter regarding your interest in purchasing a home in the Blair Oaks Community. I have also spoken with Kevin Dattilo the Division President in Charge for TN. He has briefly shared the history of the communications regarding your offer to purchase in Blair Oaks. If I understood him correctly, he agrees, there was a price error on the option for a fourth bedroom on the selection sheet at Oak Hall. He was also aware that Amy had written up an offer to increase incentives to cover the error. The issue that kept him from accepting the offer is not one of price, as I understand it from my conversation with Kevin Dattilo. The problem is the contract is contingent on the sale of an existing home.

We take contingent sales on a limited basis and do not start the homes we do accept on that basis until the existing home sells. With the limited number of lots in the Blair Oaks community, Kevin did not feel it was a good business decision to accept this offer. He did agree to honor the price as listed on this lot if it is available, or another standard lot, if you are able to sell the home and purchase non contingent in the next 90 days. We would like to have you as a Norfolk customer, and appreciate you and your agent for considering us. I would be happy to discuss this with you by phone or in person when possible if it would help make this purchase work. As your agent can share, an offer is an offer until the broker signs an agreement. The offer you made is acceptable for an immediate sale that can close yet this year, which is one of the reasons we offer aggressive incentive at times or accept lower offers. As a contingent sale in this community at this time of year, accepting the offer is not a good business decision.

Please let me know by phone at 615.591.6400 or email Kmartin@norfolk-homes.com, if I can be of further help. Kevin Dattilo has full authority to make decisions for his division and he can be reached at the same number or by emailing Kdatillo@norfolk-homes.com. Thanks again for your interest in Norfolk Homes, I look forward to speaking to you soon.


As you can see from the response above we feel we got the basic corporate response without really addressing or accepting responsibility for any of the misinformation we were given by any or their represenatives!   None of our concerns were addressed and he just basically put it back on the contingency and sale of our home. 

Red flag #1 that we should have pursued other builders but the saga continues.........

When we signed the contract in August, Norfolk wanted us to do our selections at that time. Honestly we didn't feel we should have to do them because our house had not been sold yet and we didn't want to go thru doing selections and get on this big high if our house never sold.  Also, we had no idea of what incentive money we would get(if any)so this was a process we did not want to do at this time.  This was something Norfolk insisted on being done so we went thru the procss just basically selecting all builder grade options at this time.  We were informed by Norfolk's design co-ordinator Linda Totok, that these options were not final and that we would be able to make changes up until the pre-construction meeting when all things would be final at that point.  That gave us some reassurance in making our selections so early in the game knowing that they could be changed at a later date.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Selling our home

Well we have finally started our little journey of building our own home.  First things first, we have to put our current house on the market and pray that we can sell it first.  We put our home on the market in July of 2012.  It was a nice house that was purchased new and served us well for the time being but as our family grew, we honestly just needed more space and wanted a bigger yard.

At the same time we put our home on the market we found another house that we liked in a small cul de sac of only 15 houses.  We put a contract on that house with of course a contingency to sell on our current home and our primary intention was to never end up with two house notes.  Well showings went well for the month of August as we had a lot of traffic and it was very hard keeping the house tidy to show.  We soon figured out the differnce between having our house clean and having our house clean to show (big difference)!  Well after the month of August and a good amount of traffic thru our house, our showings just fell off completely.  Durnig the initial time of sh wing our house we had a lot of lookers but no offers and the fall off in offers was attributed to school starting back by our first agent.  It was hard to get comps since not many 3 bedrooms had sold and the last comp of a 3BR was roughly two years ago.  The only comps we really had to compare were a couple of 2BR which had sold.  The market tanking didn't help the situation as there had been a number of short sales and foreclosures which honestly was killing our comps.  There were alot of 2 bedroom townhomes on our street and very few with 3 bedrooms and a 2 car garage so we figured we would not have a problem selling our home.  Guess I was wrong because November was approaching at this point, traffic was almost non-existent and we still had not had one offer on the table.  Our contract was expiring at this point with our first listing agent and we were at a crossroads.  Although we did like our agent who the house was listed with (she is our buying agent as well), we just felt we needed to change up things, pump in some new blood, get a new sets of eyes, etc into the mix to see if we could get traffic moving thru the house again.

Well in November we made the change to another agent.  It was strictly business and putting all feelings aside for the best intrest of our family.  It was a hard decision for me because we still had her as our buying agent and she was a really nice person.  Our new agent felt we needed new pictures.  We didn't feel staging was a necessary cost and we did our best to just keep our house looknig nice.  Some of our pics are listed below:

Living Room

Kitchen & eat-in

Master Bedroom

2nd Bedroom

3rd Bedroom (lil girl's room)

As you can see we did not spend any money staging our house and focused on removing clutter and just keeping it clean.  We really could have cleaned down my little girl's room but I just never got around to it :)  As soon as we listed with the new agent traffic started to increase again but we were going against the trend of home selling as we were  heading into the Winter months and the holidays.  Since we weren't selling, some conventional wisdom says to take your house off the market in the winter months and put it back on when home sales pick up in the Spring.  Other wisdom states to keep your home on the market since most people are taking theirs off so even tho inventory is low, you will be available.  We chose to go with the latter and keep our home on the market.  We had some strange request for showings but for the most part accepted all except 1 or maybe 2 max if I recall.  One request was on the December 23 and we were like someone has to be really interested in our house or want to see what we have under the tree.  Well after getting the house together to show from the holiday clutter, they still did not end up putting an offer on the house which was very disappointing.

We were still getting some showings during the Winter months and only had one offer from an investor who I assume thought we were desperate because his offer wasn't even worth considering.  We wanted to sell badly but wasn't going to just give it away.  During this time the builder had been patient with and we had been extending the contingency to sell every 30 days.  Well it was the beginning of January and time to renew our contingency when the builder decided they would only renew the continency if we could hold both house notes at the sametime.  Well thanks be to God we were able to qualify for both house but it was still something that we did not want to do at all.  The thought of two house notes just wasn't appealing at all.  We went out on leap of faith and prayer and signed the paperwork for them to begin on our new home. 

Well two month later we finally received an offer on our house at the end of February.  We would be out of pocket to close but accepted on the fact of a quick closing by the end of the month.  As we got things together to move our closing date was March 20th.  The buyer had her inspections scheduled and we were hopeful there wouldn't be to much we had to do.  Termite inspection and appraisal went very easy and smooth.  To our suprise on the home inspection, buyer came with her mom to view the place.  We were suprised as we assumed the bank would want a qualified inspector to look a property they were going to lend money on.  The only we needed to fix was the dishwasher and a garbage disposal so in the grand scheme of things not bad at all from our perspective.  We  had everything just about empty and in storage ready to move when on March 19th we got THE call.  Buyer would not be able to close because her info was verified and she had 7 NSF checks and account was overdrawn al in the month of April alone.  We were like what?  It hasn't even been three week in April and our house is just about empty.  Well we had two options from this point, sit around and cry about or continue to move forward and not look back which is what we did.  During the whole process of getting our things moved I never got the dishwasher or garbage disposal fixed.  We had all utilites cut off when we moved out.  When the buyer did her walkthru 6 days later there was no power for her to check the appliances but since she was able to close she went ahead and signed the paperwork.  In the end since the appliances were not fixed, the seller and I agreed on a price of $350.  I can not even begin to explain to you how someone with those things leading up to close was able to close but all I can say is it was by the grace of GOD.  She was able to close and we were finally sold on April 26th.  We did have to bring money to the table but at the end of the day we figured the 1st time we paid two house notes, we would have wish we would have paid the money in order to get our house sold.  Now that chapter is over, we had another chapter awaiting(the fun of new construction)!

Thank you Lord!