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Developers misleading buyers


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Hi all. I'm new here to Urban Planet. Been reading for a while, just never came out.

I wish to start this topic because I have purchased a unit in one of the new highrise condo buildings here in town. Maybe I'm wondering if I'm the only one feeling a bit ripped off, or if other condo purchasers are happy with their unit after it was finally completed.

In my case, I purchased a unit during the pre- construction sale period. The building was to be "upscale" "high-end" "well appointed"...and so on. Now I go intoi the building and find that the nice drywall corridor ceilings are not continuous the full length of the corridor. They just stop leaving the building guts hanging out for all to see. I understand that industrial design has exposed ducts and pipes, because some might think that is a design feature. I could agree if the pipes were painted pretty colors that made it into construction art. But just to have it all up there, not ordered so that it looks intentional, all painted off white seems terrible to me. It serves to deminish the overall value of the building and consequently my unit. The building unit owners are now saddled with HOA dues that will have to pay to have someone get up there and clean all that mess every so often.

Then the individual units are disappointing. We were told this was all those descriptives given earlier, ans shown renderings of lovely finishes that anyone could be proud to have. Now that I get to see my unit, the ceilings are not drywall like I had thought but are exposed concrete. That would be OK if I had been sold an industrial style home, but rather we were told everything will be very high end. Exposed concrete is not high end. It's college dorm. To futher make matters worse the form work used to pour the ceilings was crummy plywood that left large marks around the perimeter and left cement ooze through formig stactites that are large enough to see many pieces of gravel sticking through the clumps. Every knot hole, every grain pattern that was on the plywood is on my ceiling along with a greenish yellowy stain from the wood.

I must agree with the person that commented on this forum about ICON and the fixtures. These "upscale" fixtures we were supposed to get are dime store crap. The "finest Italian cabinetry" is nothing more than particle board with a thin veneer and plastic insides. Not what I'd call upscale.

We were told we would have 8 foot tall doors. No, they are 7 deet tall. Not that that is such a big deal, but we were taken on a la la ride by the developers and their real estate agents. All in all I feel like we were lied to. Time after time we asked for information about the details...."oh its coming"..."I'll have to check on that for you"; and never do...

Since when did it become acceptable design to not have a door to the master bath? To have the bedroom open to the living room? Do these designers work so much they don't ever have company or want some privacy in their bedroom?

And what's up with the kitchen sinks that are too small to get a pot in?

I 'm sorry, I'm ranting. I've been in other buildings and talked to other owners. It seems we all have been mislead into purchasing units that are not as advertised. In other buildings the window system is so poorly done, you can hear the wind being sucked in around the crevices.

The point being...Never assume that the home you are buying has any resmblance to what you expect. So perhaps this thread might be a warning to others of what to watch out for if you are buying an unbuilt unit. My advice...wait until the building is 3-4 years old and people are selling their units. Then at least you know what you are buying.

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Sorry you had trouble but you do make a good point about the dangers of buying on a pre-construction basis in an unbuilt condo building. Depending upon your contract you may not get what you thought you were getting and you may lose a lot of money. There are a couple of projects being discussed on UrbanPlanet (not in Nashville) where the builders bailed after construction started and the unbuilt buildings are just sitting there. Everyone who put rather substantial deposits down on these places have essentially lost their money, don't have much legal recourse, and even if they did are in limbo. A very bad situation.

If anyone is still considering doing this, then I would recommend that you at least, take your contract before signing to a real estate attorney that is not affiliated with the builder or either of the real estate agencies involved and get them to give you an independent assessment on what risks you are taking on. They can also recommend legal changes to these sales contracts to put you on more favorable terms with the builder. These things are not cast in concrete and you can simply take the modified contract back as a counter offer. In these days of difficult economic times, they should certainly be willing to deal with you. If not, then I would walk from it.

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No disrespect meant but did you ask the questions? I to own a new condo downtown and looked at many before purchasing. In all cases I was shown the actual cabinetry, flooring, appliances, etc. that would go into the unit. I also asked and was told what the ceiling material would be, etc. I do agree that the ceilings are not the most attractive things but it is can be fixed by "mudding" or applying the same material used in drywalling and painting it. Many in our building have done this. As for the ceilings in the hallways, you may not have been given fair warning there but I would suspect it would go along with the rest of the building and any others your developer may have in town. If you checked those out beforehand you may have known what you were in for.

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I must confess that I had reservations about whether or not most of the Icon buyers were really doing their homework. Anyone that followed this one knows that Bristol and Village did everything possible to try and create a stampede when they launched the sales 2 or 3 years ago. Buyers were dispatching brokers to the party with 5 thousand dollar checks to buy whatever they could get their hands on regardless of the asking price. It was a complete herd mentality and looking back it's hard to argue that it wasn't successful in terms of achieving a quick sellout at very (too) high prices.

However, at this point everyone has come to recognize the difference between a contract and a closing. And judging from the numbers I see reported in the paper not many of those original speculators are now interested in following through. Unfortunately, this probably harmed the few real buyers like yourself that managed to get your hands on a unit back in 2005 by forcing you to pay a very inflated price relative to what you were actually getting. Like Producer2, I find it hard to believe that walls are missing or that you actually expected your unit to have drywall ceilings as that was never advertised or even implied by a visit to their sales center. It's more likely that in your rush to get in you simply didn't do your homework on pricing, finishes or the experience of the developer team. As of the time you bought, Bristol on Broadway was the nicest condo in Bristol's portfolio...need I say more? I certainly don't think Icon, with its thin finishes and overly trendy theme, is anything to write home about but it certainly shines as the best thing Bristol has even managed to complete. I suspect from what I now see the Velocity going up next door will represent a return to the middle of the road quality Bristol has more typically cranked out.

As I look around at what's being completed in Nashville I see lots of examples of big projects being completed by developers without much experience. Rythym may be the next one to disappoint. Their interior rendering images are absolutely gorgeous but, for me, there is a disconnect between those images and the exterior fa

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First, thank you all for responding.

Perhaps in my effort to conceal which building I bought into, I inadvertantly lead you to believe it was ICON. We did not purchase into ICON. And yes, I did my homework on the developers. They had a good reputation, unlike Bristol that was known to produce less than desirable properties. I checked out the architects and they are known for being good competent designers.

When we signed up we got a copy of the Condominium contract and went throught it carefully, even to the point of forcing a meeting to get things stricken, changed, or amended to something that seemed resonable. And yes, we discussed the fact that they might change some things during construction. OK. I dealt with all that.

But when they ask you to select paint colors for your ceilings, it seems fair and resonable to expect painted ceilings. It was a year after we purchased that we found out not all ceilings get painted. That is when we found out about the ceilings (the major rooms) being exposed concrete. At that point in time, I sought out the structural engineer on the project and asked about the ceilings. The SE said that slick forms had been specified and that the ceilings should be smooth. No where in the finish brochure did it state that there were unfinished ceilings. They also asked that we select paint colors for walls and trim. Should I assume that only certain walls or only some of the trim was to recieve paint? To me that's like having to ask if your unit door has a lock on it. It is not "normal" in American homes, so I think it should be fully disclosed.

This of course resulted in some very unhappy meetings with the developer. Their response was to give us a price of slightly over $3000 to paint the ceilings. I hit the roof! No thanks, I'll do it myself.

Now that we can actually walk in and see the mess the ceilings are, no paint will cure the problem, and unless you spread mud 2 inches thick on the ceiling you will not cover the ooze from the bad forming. To remedy this the developer generously offered to let us pay another $6000+ to fix the ceilings by furring them down and putting up drywall. When I refused this generous offer they countered by saying they would pay to paint the ceilings. Amazingly the painting that was going to cost $3000+ before is now just barely over $500! What cheats.

I asked about sprinkler heads. We were told "Oh no your ceilings will be nice and clean. They are sidewall heads". Another lie. But you don't see this until you walk in and there are pipes running all over your ceiling.

As for the sinks and cabinetry, we did look at the "model" unit. The sink was unusable and the cabinetry cute but crummy. So we provided our own. The light fixtures are cheap, so we will again supply our own. I asked to see the drawings and the specifications and was given access, but without several hours to search through the documents looking for things I had not imagined I needed to look for, I did not find the things that are now driving me crazy.

The problem is, I did check out the people involved. They have (Had) good reputations, so I foolishly did not document every thing they told us through the process.

Thanks for the forum so I might rant. I've worked hard my whole life, done without things, saved my money, and now my life long dream of a pie in the sky apartment has become less valuable than I calculated because of their crummy design and construction, but it's cost will continue to rise as we discover what else is coming.

By the time we move in there is no telling what all will have to be fixed.

Again, thanks for "listening" and if you are reading this and thinking about a condo...just beware. I thought I had covered all the bases, but I did not scratch the surface.

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I would suggest playing a little hardball. Developers are having a very difficult time getting contracted buyers to close and they can be leveraged into concessions. While you have executed a contract and it should be honored it does not mean the negotiations are over. I would at least raise the issue with the developer that you are dissatisfied enough not to close. If you have the ability to close and can demonstrate your willingness to close provided your conditions are met you may find the developer willing to comply. The developer is faced with the prospect of pursuing a default proceeding against you and/or having to re-market the unit to close at a much later date and possibly with more incentives or a lower price.

The dynamics of the market are radically different than when these units were pre-sold. Developers that have huge numbers of defaults are not pursuing remedies other than a series of demand letters. Most buyers can't currently close anyhow due to lack of mortgage funds availability. Developers need to close any buyer who is currently contracted and they are willing to compromise to make closings happen.

Explore the power of "no" and see what happens.

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I too am truly sorry for your bad experience. I know you may have already closed on the property but I would agree with roland that you should at least attempt backing the developer into a corner with whatever ammo you may have. A good start would be to disclose the building here and everwhere else you can. That will not only help others avoid this but it is publicity the developers really do not want. Hopefully someone here may be able to help.

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