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Update by user May 28, 2012
I do not see a way to delete this post, but I would like to make it known that I WAS contacted by the VP of Ryan Homes, who went way out of his way to accommodate me after he received my letter. Needless to say, not everything was fixable but they did do everything they could, and I even got a nice check at closing to offset the cost of the counter tops that I was displeased with.
I wish I had wrote the letter sooner, as I could have probably remedied a lot of this a long time ago with less frustration.
I won\'t go into all the details but Ryan Homes did go out of their way to make things right, and I think the fact that they at least made an effort says a lot about them. We are moving into the new place and are more than happy with the home.
Original review posted by user May 01, 2012
My husband and I began the process of building a home with Ryan Homes in December 2011. We will be closing May 11th, but along the way we have hit many bumps in the road. Problems that we feel should be reported to those in charge. After reading some reviews about Ryan Homes before putting a contract on the house, I was pretty skeptical but after speaking with the Ryan Homes representatives, my mind was put at ease. I guess they are good salesman, because we clearly should have listened to the disgruntled reviews of previous buyers and websites like www.ryanhomesnightmare.com. I bought a home that was a foreclosure 3 years ago, and that process was so much more streamlined that this was….not what I was expecting from an established company.
From the very beginning, we were almost pressured in to making the decision to buy with Ryan Homes. I understand that that is what sales-people are paid to do, but at times we were uncomfortable and pretty much told "this is your last chance, take it or leave it". We were told by our sales rep that other homebuilders will claim to be energy star qualified, but that Ryan Homes is the only one with this certification. I don't believe that it's very professional to degrade other companies just to get your point across. The "deals" only kept getting better to entice us to sign, but when we were on the edge trying to make up our minds, we were told that if we didn't decide that very same day to sign on the house then the deal would be forever. Again, I am very aware that is what sales people are paid to do, but this felt more like a shady used car lot then a lifetime investment on a new home. What I am trying to say is that it was very clear where our sales-rep's priorities were- and they were not for out satisfaction. We went ahead and chose to build with Ryan Homes even after hearing from some friends and family that their experience with the company hadn't been that pleasant. None of those sources had built in the same community and we really loved the design and options that were available so we decided to move forward. During the signing process, my husband, who was still a little wary because of an issue with taxes that I will reference later, stated that he wasn't sure he would be available for the project closing date (He is a Marine Reservist and has to be away for 2 weeks in the summer for active duty training) and we were told that if we didn't know 100% then we needed to let the sales rep know and leave because she had just told another couple that the house was no longer available. This showed that it was obviously about making a sale and not "making our dreams of a home come true" which had been marketed to us in the couple weeks that we had been deciding on the house.
After that initial signing was over, we had to make the decisions on all of the upgrades and features of the home. We were told that everything had to be completed by a certain date and nothing could be changed after that. This proved to be inaccurate when there were some things that needed to be changed by Ryan Homes because the paperwork had gotten messed up, or we were given the old tactic of "bait and switch" where we were allowed to choose options at signing that later had to be "changed due to conflicts" with Ryan Homes. Even at the pre-construction meeting things were still being corrected. One of the things that had to be corrected was the fireplace location. We were given the option of having the fireplace on the rear of the family room or on the side. We chose the side so that it wouldn't be taking up a few feet of our deck and because it just looked nicer. At the pre-construction meeting, this had to be changed. Apparently, having the fireplace on the side of the house was never an option due to the distance from property lines. Whether this is true or not, I don't know because I was never given the measurements, but if this were the case it should have never been offered. Having the fireplace on the rear of the house takes up an area of the deck off of the morning room and doesn't look good from the outside either. This is the 3rd time we were "baited and switched" during this process…and it was not the last. It is absolutely unacceptable to offer someone something, only to then tell them AFTER you legally bind them into a contract that you are not going to hold up your end (but they have to).
But the main thing that I was dissatisfied about regarding upgrades and features was the countertop selection. This is going to be mine and my husband's first home together (just the two of us), and we plan on being in it for quite a while, starting a family here and so on. The kitchen has been my favorite part of the Venice model from the start and I have been very pleased with the selections that were made and how everything is coming together, in fact- the kitchen is one of the main reasons I chose the Venice model over others. But on a number of occasions, I asked the product manager if the countertops could have rounded edges and corners. Not only is it safer to have rounded edges for little children running around, but it also looks much better and is advertised in many of the Ryan Homes brochures with rounded edges. We chose the upgraded Formica and I have seen many examples online and in stores like Lowe's that offer rounded edges (or any other profile like bullnose, waterfall, or ogee) from Formica. Every time I mentioned to our product manager that I really wanted this feature and that it was very important to me, he offered multiple reasons, rather, excuses, for why this just was NOT an option. I asked him if he could put in a request to Ryan Homes, Inc., and he said it wouldn't be worth the trouble or money that it would cost. Since this is going to be my home, I feel like this was my decision to make, and that it was very worth the trouble to me… but I'm sure it would have slowed down the building process and we all know he has to finish in a certain amount of time to receive his bonus on the project. We even begged to have NO counters installed, and have Lowe's or someone come out and do it with the rounded edges, and were told that that was not allowed and that our only option was straight edged 1980's style counters and there was absolutely no other option other than to pay to have the new counters removed after we moved in and replaced with rounded edged counters at our own expense. So now I am stuck in a house with the fireplace on a side I was not expecting it to be on, eating up a chunk of my back deck (but the deck costs the same), with counters I can't stand to look at.
Locking in our interest rate was also an unfair situation. I had to e-mail the NVR representative in charge of our closing, our original sales representative and our site manager to find out when closing would be. We have been keeping updated on the progress of the house throughout the building period and we assumed we would close within 30-45 days. The site manager e-mailed me back telling me the date of the walk through and when the approximate closing date. This must have spurred NVR to go ahead and give us the final closing date since we wanted to go ahead and lock our rate because they sent a letter shortly afterwards, but they clearly let it slide past them entirely until I contacted them, which must have reminded them we were allowed to lock-in. According to the paperwork to lock-in, we could have done so at 60 days prior to closing. We had always been told only 30-45 days before closing. We were later told that had locked in at the 60 day mark, we would have received a full point credit and possibly a slightly lower interest rate. That may not be a big deal to some but it was just another stone thrown, and in the long run does make a big dent.
This is one of my biggest complaints, and to be honest I'm not even sure it was legal, but I'll be sure to find out before settlement. The timing of the delivery of our home was skewed in favor of Ryan Homes and for another customer. We were told our house was to be the very last one to be sold in the neighborhood and that it would also be the last one built. We were given a May/June delivery, with the most likely date being sometime in late June, early July at the very latest. When we were given the date for our pre-construction meeting so quickly, we realized that something had obviously changed. Our sales representative told us that our home would actually be available for an April/May delivery. We had made it clear from the beginning that we wanted to be the last home built and the later they could make the settlement date, the better for us – and were told that this was the last lot and the last to be built. This is the first home my husband and I have bought together, but he bought a townhouse in October 2009. That townhouse qualified for the first time homebuyer's credit that was being given in 2008 and 2009. In order to keep the homebuyer's credit ($8,000 given to the homebuyer by the IRS), the homebuyer must not only own but also occupy this first residence for 36 months. If the homebuyer does not occupy the house for the full 36 months, he must pay back the entire $8,000 PLUS interest. Obviously this is not a desirable place to be in, and my husband will not be moving in to the new house until October for that reason (and even still he may have to pay back the credit). We made our sales representative aware of the fact that the 36 months would not be fulfilled until October 2012, and that is why we wanted the settlement date as close to that as possible to decrease the amount of time we are spending in two different houses. We understood that they were trying to finish this community so we did not ask that they stop production or any other favors – just that we were given what we were promised, and that was the last house in the community. So when we came to the pre-construction meeting and our delivery date had moved up, we questioned our sales representative about how the date moved up and why they had not started working on the lot that had been sold before ours. This lot had been empty for quite a while, and in fact is only just now starting construction, now that ours is completely done. My husband questioned our sales rep at the pre-construction meeting and she told us that she had actually "made a deal" with the customer who bought the other lot because he had a lease that was going to last a few more months. This was a shock to us as we had made our situation clear way back in December and no "deal" was made with us. My husband was absolutely livid and we find it unfair that Ryan Homes would "make a deal" with a customer who has to pay a lease for an extra month or two, but could care less about someone who will have to pay the IRS $8,000+. There is no reason that this other customer should have gotten special treatment and been allowed to change the original construction plans- again, bait and switch. Scheming and "making deals" with others is extremely unfair, especially when we were pressured so hard into "buy right now this is the last lot!". In addition, we were told that this was the last Ryan Homes community planned for Culpeper so we really needed to move fast. I recently found out that Ryan Homes is planning a BRAND NEW community in Culpeper soon. This is even more frustrating as we could have had the first home in a new neighborhood with our pick of a site, and a convenient delivery date, rather than just "what was left".
The current dilemma were having with the production team is just the cherry on top of this nightmare. We went by the house last week to see how things were coming. The exterior stone does not match what I had picked pre-construction. Apparently all of the paperwork matches (according to the sales-rep…) which means there must have been a breakdown in communication in the selection process at the beginning – or she made (another) error and realizes it is easier to blame us for the mix-up than take responsibility. But my husband and my realtor both questioned me about the color of the stone because they both remember picking the stone that looked exactly like the model. The stone is drastically different from that, but I am being told that there is nothing that can be done at this point. The sales rep understood that we had no clue what the stone names were, so constantly throughout the process our stone was just referred to as "the same on the model". So obviously, when we looked at the stone on the house, we were expecting the stone to be the same as what was on the model- but surprise, it is drastically different. My husband and I decided that the stone is still nice looking and we were trying to be flexible and not change it even though it was not what we chose –again (and even though the error was not our fault)…but the whole combination does not blend well at all (the stone, siding and trim) since we picked it to match the stone color on the model. I made the sales representative aware of it and she stated that she definitely wants us to be happy with the finished product, but she thinks it would be best to wait till the final walk-through on the May 7th once everything is complete and I can see all of the landscaping paired with the exterior selections. The production manager told me that he really hopes I like it how it is because there's nothing that can be changed at this point. I don't know what the sales-rep thinks is going to change my mind a week from now, I can see it just find now and don't like the way the trim looks compared to this new stone color. I am really becoming perturbed with the production manager telling me he "can't do anything about it" when it seems like the buck keeps stopping at him.
This is likely just something that Ryan Homes truthfully does not offer, but we were also told that they do not offer a 100% fully finished basement, and that we were stuck with a 75% finished basement. Our storage room in the basement is just one HUGE room that they refuse to finish, bigger than the living room in our basement. The electric company (which was another nightmare to deal with altogether) sent out the electrician to meet with us one morning, and he kept asking why I didn't want any outlets in that BIG, empty room. I kept telling him that we were told Ryan Homes leaves that as a storage room and will not finish it. The electrician kept asking me if I was sure, because he has done many homes in the neighborhood and he recalled them as having fully finished basements. This could just be an error on the electrician's part, and Ryan Home's really does not finish that room…but again, I plan to find out before settlement.
I intend to go to some of my future neighbors in the community and ask them if they ran into similar issues during the process of buying and building their homes. I also intend to find out if they were told something different regarding the counter tops, fireplaces, stone options, and basements. If I found out that I have been flat out lied to on all of this information, you can fully expect for us to not be at the settlement table.
These are not nearly all of the problems we have had with Ryan Homes throughout this process- which was supposed to be fun and exciting, but they are some of the most distressing. Rather than being excited about our new home during this process, there had been nothing but dread about what will be changed next time we meet with our reps. Unfortunately, I fully expect that there will be many more surprises at the settlement table as well. This entire process has left a terrible taste in our mouth's and has proved that you really should listen to others who have bought from a company before you rather than giving that company a chance. I have written this letter in hopes that those in charge can either shed some light on why these things were allowed to happen to us, or else prevent it from happening to others in the future. I certainly hope these problems are just a result of our local reps and not an issue for all of Ryan Homes, but from what I have read online and heard from friends, we are not the only victims. If these lies cannot be made right and it ends up being necessary I intend to circulate this letter as much as humanly possible to prevent others from being thrown into these shady and uncomfortable practices and stuck with a home that was nothing like they had dreamed or been promised in the beginning.
Product or Service Mentioned: Ryan Homes Customer Care.
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee