Friday, December 17, 2004

To Grandmother's House We -- Ooops!

You've bought the house... taken out the mortgage... picked out a tree... invited the family.... ordered the turkey....

Too bad the oven (and the rest of your brand-new vacation home kitchen) is not quite done yet.

Real estate mavens love to tell us how valuable preconstruction deals are in resort communities. In order to raise capital early, builders often offer what seem to be great discounts on soon-to-be built homes and condos.

Key phrase? "Soon-to-be built." That's a Buyer Beware signal if I ever saw one.

Look what 's happened in the new Idaho resort called Tamarack, which this week became the major new ski area to open in more than 20 years.

Eager buyers didn't even wait for a discount. In fact, according to Boise's KTVB, they paid a premium for ski- and golf course-adjacent properties. The resort bankrolled its development this way to the tune of $77-million.

Now, the lifts are open -- but many houses aren't. Buyers told the TV newsfolk that the builders overpromised and underdelivered.

In one case, an owner says not only is his house not ready, but the "builders admit they were using his 1200-foot, $500,000 cottage to store materials for other homes," according to Newschannel 7

Jean-Pierre Boespflug, Tamarack's CEO, tells the KTVB that half of the resort's 63 homes will be ready by next weekend. And he says the contracts these homeowners signed gave no commitment of a Christmas completion date.

"We had no guarantees of anything that early, in fact, you know homes typically take a year to build," Boespflug told the station. "We're working as hard as we can to make everybody happy."

Tune in Christmas Day to see whether those early buyers are wearing their happy faces.

Meanwhile, if you're about to put a down payment on a preconstruction project, get the delivery date in writing.

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