We are near 70 years old and live in Oregon. On September 10th, my wife and I signed a contract to have a house built in Britton Falls, Indiana to be close to family. The house was to be started at the end of December. Included with the contract were 10 requests for what Pulte calls "Non Standard Options or NSO's", none were very complex and two of them were even suggested by our sales representative. It is Pulte's procedure for a customer to sign a contract and then get approvals and prices for these options. Even though this is not a good practice, we signed the contract. We were also "encouraged" to use Pulte mortgage to avoid huge penalties for not closing when Pulte demanded.
Almost three months after signing the contract and wondering if the "NSO's" would even be approved, we finally got 3 of the 10 requested prices, although one was not for what we had asked, bringing the actual number to two. During these three months of waiting, I became aware of some differences between sales documents. A difference in the number of windows shown on the sales floor plan and the elevations caused me to ask about the number of windows we were actually going to get. The question was ignored by our sales representative, Joanne Totten, and our construction manager, Adam Wright. I also discovered that there had been changes made that were not reflected in the models and other sales documents, nor were they disclosed to us in any way. When I asked about a specific architectural detail, Adam Wright's response was "We don't do it that way anymore". Most of these changes were small but I was beginning to see a trend.
We had lived in Sun City Hilton Head previously and had been aware of major discrepancies and lawsuits with Pulte in that community. Not getting approvals and prices for the "NSO's" in a timely manner, not getting questions answered and finding out that the houses were being "decontented" led to increasing frustration on my part. In addition, we had some issues with Pulte mortgage offering rates that we could easily find lower elsewhere.
On December 4th, I sent an email to Pulte saying that I was "unwilling to proceed". On December 5th, the sales manager for Britton Falls, Sean Clancy, called. His comment on the NSO's was that Pulte was not building a "custom home" but he could call in favors to get us prices. Even though the requests for changes were being allowed and encouraged, he made it sound as if he was doing us a big favor. His inability to see or admit that the Pulte process was not working well and that as a result, we were getting increasingly frustrated was enough to make us see that we did not want to continue with Pulte. Pulte sent us a letter indicating that we were in default instead of acknowledging their deficiencies and default on their part.
Since very little cost had been accumulated and the house had not been started, we fully expected to get our deposit back less a few dollars. Instead of doing the morally right thing, Pulte decided to take advantage of a couple of senior citizens and retain our $20,000 deposit just to increase their bottom line. To keep this deposit in perspective;
• The $20,000 deposit represents .00088% of Pulte's 2013 reported 3rd Qtr profits.
• This same $20,000 represents 2% of our savings for a lifetime.
• Do not buy a house from Pulte whether in a Pulte, Centex, Sun City or Del Webb community unless it is fully completed so that you can see the final finishes and know what really is included. Inspect a house in the same community that is at the insulation stage so that you fully understand what you are getting.
• If you do want to have Pulte build a house, do not trust the sales information to be accurate.
• Get all price, approvals and detailed specifications before signing a contract to build a house.
• Have your attorney review Pulte's contract - it is totally one sided and not changeable but you need to know the ramifications prior to signing.
• If you still want to continue, do not feel pressured to use Pulte mortgage.
Monetary Loss: $20000.