Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What’s in a closing date (Is the 7th’s time a charm)? Norfolk Homes

                         What’s in a closing date (Is the 7th’s time really a charm)?

Well this post will deal with way Norfolk Homes handled our closing.  Very pitiful to say the least but I will just give the facts and let you come to your own conclusion.  Maybe I am na├»ve and all builders treat their homeowners this way but I seriously hope not.  We first received an email from Norfolk Homes home office on June 15th, 2012 stating our closing date would be approximately a month out on July 13th, 2012.  Below is a copy of the letter.  I was very surprised to see that we were told that we couldn’t have anyone else walk the house with us:

Dear Homeowner,

As we are nearing completion of your new home, we are projecting your closing date to be 7/13/12. Please keep in mind this date is subject to change due to inspections, weather, etc., but we wanted to give you a time frame to begin preparing for closing. 

It is also our practice to conduct a pre-closing walk through with the construction superintendent.  Your first walk through will be 2 to 3 days prior to your closing date.  The purpose of this preliminary visit is to tour your home prior to the pressures of the actual day of closing and create a punch list with the construction superintendent if necessary.  Please keep in mind we are completing the finishing touches in your home.

Please also note that it is Norfolk Home’s policy that the only individuals allowed to attend the walk through are the Purchasers, Realtor (if applicable), and the Norfolk Homes Sales & Construction Team.

To ensure a smooth and timely closing, please contact your mortgage representative to confirm that all necessary paperwork and any outstanding items are taken care of.  Also, please be advised that you will need to obtain your homeowners insurance prior to closing.

As we get closer to the completion date, I will send you a letter confirming the dates and times for your walk through and closing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us.


Sheryl Murray
Sales and Closing Administrator
Norfolk Homes

As documented by the blog, I have kept close tabs on our whole build and kept in touch with the project manager as well so I didn’t think there was any way we would be closing on July 13th, 2012 because there were so many things on the punch list that still needed to be done.  I wrote an email to Norfolk Homes and finally received a response back on July 2nd, 2012 stating that our new 2nd closing date would be July 20th, 2012.  We were scheduled to do a final walk thru the day before closing or on the same day as closing.  There was no way I was going to agree to this as I wanted to walk the house alone without the project manager there so I wouldn’t be rushed and I could take a complete look at the house. 

Of course this date came and went as well and we still did not close.  We were told that we would be closing a week later now.  I guess at this point you can see that we have no faith in any of these closing dates at all.  The 3rd closing date was pushed out another week and scheduled July 27th, 2012 @ 4 pm.

I called and talked to our loan officer because I still didn’t feel that there was any way that we would make this closing date as well.  He informed me that Norfolk Homes had not contacted him about the closing date.  He also stated that our home was not far along enough to order an appraisal so there is no way that we would make that closing date.  The appraisal was finally ordered on July 23rd, 2012.  This may sound like exciting news but it wasn’t because the appraiser refused to conduct the appraisal at this point because there weren’t any gutters on the house. 

On a side note a funny story about the gutters that happened was that initially I wanted dark brown gutters on the house.  I even advised I would be willing to pay extra for these.  I was informed by Norfolk Homes that there was no way I could get dark brown gutters and this was a color that they did not offer.  I was very perplexed as this didn’t make any sense to me at all so we were scheduled to get the sand color.  Well I found out that the reason the gutters were not on the house because the sand color was out of stock.  Norfolk’s sales representative called me and asked would I be willing to do dark brown gutters as those were in stock.  Are you kidding me, really?  I didn’t know whether to be upset or happy but I of course accepted as I something finally went in our favor.

On July 25th, 2012 I contacted Norfolk Homes about the closing that was scheduled.  I knew the house wasn’t ready by talking with the project manager but the home office I’m assuming was unaware of this.  When I spoke of having the closing date moved because the house was not ready, Norfolk Homes literally started to threaten us with late penalties and referencing the contract we signed because it’s obvious they were intent on closing out loan before the end of the month of July.  We had moved our work schedules around several times and at this point Norfolk Homes was not very accommodating and just expected us to be able to drop whatever we were doing at the time and work around their schedule.  After all the threats that Norfolk Homes gave us, come to find out that the appraisal wasn’t even back yet as the appraiser had just came out today so there was no way we could close today.  We received another email from the home office stating that our closing date was going too moved again for the 4th time to 7/31/12 at 3pm.

We still knew we would not be closing today but Norfolk Homes was insistent that we were closing today no matter what.  Once again we were threatened by Norfolk Homes of being charged late fees if we did not close today.  Later on in the day I received this email from Norfolk Homes trying to save face because they knew they were rude and wrong for the threats considering communication was lacking between the loan officer (their preferred lender), project manager and the home office. 

Dear Homeowner,

Appraiser was out today.  He will not have it back to your lender for several days.  In order to accommodate this we have decided to move closing to 8/3/13 as you requested the 1st time and not charge you a carry-over fee, in order for your lender to get finished.  As far as walking the home you can get with the project manager and the sales rep to see what is best for you.  We can do 2 days before closing which will be 8/1/12.  This would be your 1st walk.  On your inspector going out to the home you will need to get with the sales rep on that as this is out of my control. You have a great rest of your day.


Sheryl Murray
Sales and Closing Administrator/Warranty Coordinator
277 Mallory Station Rd. Suite 106
Franklin Tn.  37067

My response back to Norfolk Homes follows:

Mrs. Murray,

Are you serious?  This will be the 4th time we have rearranged our schedules and we aren't closing.  I would hope you fully understand the frustration we are feeling at this point?  Not to sound vain but honestly at this point how can we be assured we will close on the 5th closing date 8/3/12 before we attempt to make additional accommodations for the close?  Earlier this week we were basically being forced to close before the month's end we just assumed all of things were already completed.  Why was there even a mention of a late penalty being assessed to us when the appraisals were not turned in to GMAC nor was the house complete?  We just would like to make sure 8/3/12 is really an attainable closing date before we start making plans.  I will also give you a call now.

Thank you,

I gave them a call and finally we were informed by Norfolk Homes and our loan office that the appraisal should be back on Friday.  After all the rescheduling we had done, Norfolk Homes just expected us to drop our schedules again and leave work for the 5th closing date in order to close on Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Hello Mrs. Murray,

I was writing because unfortunately we are not able to close on Friday, August 3rd, 2012.  Our closing date has been moved several times previously and we have moved schedules around to accommodate those and they did not occur.  Unfortunately we have to have adequate time in advance in order to deal with our schedules.  We will be able to close next Friday preferably in the morning.

Thank you,

I also informed Norfolk Homes at this point that I wanted to walk the house again by myself since I had not been given a date at this point to officially do it.  I had gone by the house during the day while the different trades were there working on the punch list and I could still see there was a lot of work to be done.  They honestly did not want me walking the house because I kept finding things that were not finished.  I was determined that I did not want a huge punch list because I figured if Norfolk Homes wasn’t addressing these items now, what incentive would they have to address them once we have closed and they have been paid. The Sales Administrator informed of an e-mail she received from her supervisor:

Hello Sheryl,

The prospective homeowner is not to be in the house without a Norfolk representative.  Communicate that to him and hold him to it – no exceptions.  If he wants to have a licensed home inspector to do an inspection that is fine because he is insured.  However, make sure he knows that we are not required to do things listed on an inspection report if they are within NAHB tolerances. Let me know if I can assist you further,

Charles Jeter

Well I wasn’t able to walk the house at this point but I wasn’t upset at this point since there still so many items on my punch list to be done.  There was also the issue of the grinder pump which was put into the front yard without any notice.  I ended up having several discussions with the City about the grinder.  My agent advised that we would not close at this point since Norfolk Homes had not addressed the grinder pump issue nor was the punch list anywhere close to being done.  Norfolk Homes as you can imagine was not happy at this point because they were ready to close.   

Over the weekend I was able to get into the house and go thru my punch list.  I thought it would be difficult but the sales rep and the project manager were more than happy to let me walk the house. J  See my previous post on check list to be done before taking possession of house.  http://ourhomebuildtn.blogspot.com/2012/10/checklist-before-taking-possession-that.html
After I had my check list together I emailed it to Norfolk Homes for attention as soon as possible.  Well we now received our 6th closing date, August 10th, 2012 @ 4pm

On the day before closing we were informed by Norfolk Homes we would not be closing again because of a lack of paper work by the developer and Norfolk Homes.  This was a bond letter that needed to be provided before our loan could be processed. 

The next letter was from the project manager:

I emailed a copy of the bond to Sheryl.   The exterior trim on the house still is not done. Our subcontractor has assured me that it will be done next week sometime. I know how the homeowners feel about not closing with anything left on the punch list so I figured I would let you know now.   I also see where he has taped the house again. I do not have a painter today to touch these spots up.  It will have to be done tomorrow. In order to add a switch for the single car garage door in the two car garage there is going to have to be a charge. This is an extra that should have been added when doing selections. Our electrician is paid to wire one garage. Extra garages are obviously extra. We wired several outlets in that garage and did not charge anything. Let me know if any of this is going to affect our walk today.

My next letter went to the sales rep because Norfolk Homes didn’t want to wire the 3rd car garage for a garage door opener in the main garage.  I had already argued with them before because they attempted to tell me that the 3rd car garage did not come with plugs outlets or a light.  I politely informed them that if these items did not come with the garage then I should have been informed.  As far as I knew I ordered a 3rd car garage, not an outhouse so I don’t see why these things should not be included.  Below is a letter sent to the sales rep to be forwarded to the Vice-President:

Hello Mr. Dattillo,

After meeting with Brad (project manager) and the Jerry from the City today, the grinder pump issue has finally been resolved.  Kevin Martin did state that a gift card would be given for landscaping of the grinder pump and we wanted to know when this would be given.  Brad also stated that the rest of the punch list should be completed by Wednesday. 

The problem which has occurred now is the wiring of the 3rd car garage.  When we selected to add a 3rd car garage nowhere on the options upgrade sheet or any literature did it state the garage didn't come with anything and items had to be ordered a la carte.  Blair Oaks standard features state that the garage comes pre-wired for a garage opener and this is what we were expecting as well on the 3rd car garage, with the ability to be able to open both garage from the mudroom entrance.  This is not out of the realm to expect as standard operating procedure when selecting the 3rd car garage.  We could see if we added the option of an outhouse or storage unit then maybe one would expect it to come bare but the 3rd car garage should be comparable and pre-wired as the standard features state and have everything the 2 car garage does as well.

If I recall correctly the last time an addendum was submitted by our agent, Andrea Ranck, we were informed it had to be written up on Norfolk's letterhead.  We would like an addendum basically summarizing the previous issues consisting of:

1.  Any unfinished items on the punch list would be completed within 30 days.
2.  Our 3rd car garage will be pre-wired just as the 2 car garage is (if not completed by closing)
3.  Receipt of the gift card for landscaping of the grinder pump

If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

Eventually we ended up closing on the 7th closing date on August 14th, 2012 with the promise of our punch list being completed in the next 30 days.  Now how do you think this turned out? 

The saga continues!!!!

***Sorry it has been a long time since I have posted.  I remember that I hate keeping up with a blog only to see it was never completed :)  I will complete this blog as I still have more post detailing our ordeal with Norfolk Homes***

If you are dealing with or thinking about dealing with Norfolk Homes, leave your email and I will contact you back.  I will delete it from the comments as well.