Home Builders Now Willing to Play Ball


Some home builders are very straight-forward with the way they sell homes. They build a product and they market that product at a price they believe is fair in the market and will also bring them a profit.

One example would be Ivory Homes. Ivory has always treated my clients well and my clients have always seemed very pleased with their purchase. Ivory isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced home builder and they don’t compete simply on price- they compete on value and quality. And they tell the buyers this from the beginning. Their product is semi-custom, meaning you choose one of their floor plans but then have a lot of things you can change about the floor plan and layout. And they have always worked well with Realtors and other lenders. All of this may be why they are Utah’s largest home builder.

On the other side, there are home builders who are stubborn in their business practices and only work with consumer’s wants, Realtors and outside lenders when the market is such that they have to. Holmes Homes and is an example of this type of builder. Holmes has a reputation among sub-contractors for not paying on time, they refuse to pay Realtor commission during seller’s markets but completely change their tunes during buyer’s markets, refuse (as much as they feel they legally can) to work with outside lenders, and seem to work only for a profit, not for the consumer.

Oh, and while I’m speaking about builders- I need to mention that one of the worst I have ever worked with locally is Alpine Homes. Once the deal has closed they have been unwilling to fix problems, unwilling to listen to their home buyers, and unworkable. They offer agent incentives and bonuses to buyers, but then their product is less than great and once you close- they are done with you. In one of their communities I sold two homes on the same street and once my clients moved in, both had water drainage issues because the builder had not installed the landscaping properly so that it would run away from the house. With the first rainfall, of course, most every home on the street had flooding in the basements. One of my clients had a lot of valuable posessions in their basement that were damaged. The home owners were all contacting Alpine trying to get the problems corrected but Apline was completely unwilling to do anything about the problems. They would not have their landscapers help and they would not compensate anyone for damages. I was a managing broker for a large Coldwell Banker office at the time and spoke to one of their higher-ups and told them I was planning on letting every agent I came across of the service my clients (and their neighbors) were receiving and I would have our legal counsel advise these home buyers on their rights. Only after weeks of fighting and legal threats did Apline finally have some changes made to the landscaping (although they still would not reimburse for any damages). Okay, had to get that out there…

Now that the market is shifting more to the buyer’s side, most local home builders are more inclined to work with outside lenders, Realtors, and the client’s wants. Many are soliciting agents heavily and some are offering big incentives now for home buyers. Many of the builders who only two years ago would not pay an agent are now offering bonuses, and many who fought against flexibility are now changing their policies to be more consumer-friendly.

I have a lot of experiences with many of the local builders and I always share my experiences, and the experiences of my clients with people I work with who are looking at buying new homes. Some builders have earned solid reputations over the years and many have earned horrible ones. Today they all want to play ball because they have to, but agents know which ones are in it for the money and which ones are in it for the consumer, and now with blogging and social media, hopefully the public will hear more about it…


16 thoughts on “Home Builders Now Willing to Play Ball

  1. Greg – I think you have assessed the builders correctly. When I was in Utah, I knew many people that had purchased Ivory homes and they were all quite pleased. The other two do not have such stellar reputations as you note.

    I am working on a post for tomorrow on a similar subject – Why New Home Buyers Should Use an Agent. Many buyers don’t realize that the builder is very resistant to lowering price as it affects the whole project, and many sales managers will not put any extra effort into writing a contract that could save the buyer big money. An agent with experience in new home sales knows how to write a contract that can save the buyer money and leave the price of the home at the level the builder wants it.

  2. Pingback: The Feed Bag - Suck Your Way To Success

  3. They only love us when they need us. Long term professional Realtors if treated fairly can build a cult around builders that treat all the stake holders fairly. A builder that pays fair compensation in all markets will find his product holds value better in all markets as well. If there is a good buzz about the resales of a builder in the slow times, there just might be some extra new home sales to be had as well. Of course that implies that the builder takes his profession as seriously as we Realtors do.

  4. I think builders can definately repair relationships by changing policies and standards but it would take time and as you know most people don’t change, so it might require new ownership/management.

  5. Good post Greg,
    It is quite interesting to see the attitudes of the builers. Now we are all that and a bag of chips, to quote Teresa Boardman. The prefered lender practice is a, how should I put this, slimey is a word that comes to mind. They are not giving incentives they are punishing those that don’t.

    I am glad the crazy part of the market is over and we can get back to where professionals rule again.

  6. I sure wish I had read this bit a week ago. I have just signed a sales contract to build with Holmes Homes and I am starting to feel sick about it. I was on cloud nine the day we signed, but I have heard nothing but horror stories from everyone that I talked to. How tough is it to get out of this deal? Can it be done? I am more than willing to hire a real estate attorney, as this is beggining to keep me up all night worrying.

  7. C-Man,
    My husband and I built our home through Holmes Homes just over 3 years ago. We had our ups and downs, sometimes wishing we went through Centex (down the street). After talking to buyers from many builders, we’ve come to find out that they ALL have problems that cause customer stresses! As long as you keep on Holmes Homes for everything…the sooner you bring something up with them the better, and maybe carry a mp3 recorder so you can later prove what they’ve said…they have turned out to be ok. We had some issues here and there but even after our 1 year warranty expired they were willing to work with us to get issues resolved and no problems were structural/plumbing/etc. (problems you REALLY don’t want to deal with). Some of our neighbors had different experiences, but we found them to work with us as long as we could talk to them level headed (don’t lose your temper, they’ll just make things harder on you) and keep calling/bugging them until you get what you want done. No, they’re not top quality, but you get a decent house for a decent price. Another note–I’m pretty sure we should’ve paid 5-10k less, talk to a realtor about what you should pay!

  8. I agree with your assessment of Holmes Homes. I built a townhouse with them in West Jordan, and it has been a nightmare trying to get things fixed. My favorite is that they didn’t mud the tape on the drywall, so I now have tape lines showing EVERYWHERE in the house. I have even had the customer service rep. & warranty person out to my house, but it stil isn’t fixed. I would recommend any buyer to go the other way – work with Garbett or McArthur. It would be worth losing the $500 earnest money deposit just to not have to work with them. Worst mistake I have ever made.

  9. I have dealt with both Ivory Homes and Holmes Homes, here’s my humble opinion, if builders like Holmes Homes not only as you said pay their bills late, very very late, but also expect not to pay at all, and to make things worse they only take bids from people that are willing to give away their work, those are the same sub-contractors that will have to pay someone else late or even go out of business all together, or even hiring illegals to lower wages everyone losses, the home buyer gets a low quality home, the sub-contractor won’t be in business for long, the builder gets a bad reputation, same reason why Ivory has managed to top all other builders, volume and customer satisfaction, Daybreak is a good example, it’s really easy to go there and compare quality between builders.

    Ask anyone who has done work for both Holmes Homes and Ivory they’ll tell you, it’s a no brainer that anyone rather does business with does who pay their bill on-time.

  10. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I am building in Spanish Fork and can’t afford and Ivory Home. They are well built and beautiful. I have been looking at Landmark and Fieldstone. I’ve heard some things about Fieldstone but I can get more square feet for my money. Has anyone dealt with Landmark or had experience with either to share. I need to decide in the next few days so we can start the process.


  11. I unfortunately bought a home from Alpine in the Cove at Oak Vista. Alpine Homes is still fighting me after FOUR years on fixing leaks that they have repeatedly promised to fix. I live two houses away from Scott Hawker, their GM, and I can honestly say he is the biggest scumbag that ever walked the earth. Do you have any ideas on how to get my leaks fixed?



  12. Ray,

    Sorry to hear about your situation. Alpine is not very responsive unless they think it is going to hurt future sales. You might want to find out if there are other homeowners in your neighborhood that are having problems with them (there most certainly are) and complain together or file a complaint or if they are still selling homes in the area you can do what some others have done, which is to put signs in your yards that warn potential buyers about them, which will put pressure on them to help you…

    Best of luck to you!

  13. I am an unhappy customer of Alpine Homes and only in the process of building. They won’t conform to what the contract says and what their agent has been saying all along. I am stuck at this point unless we decide to arbitrate which is no good either.
    Anyway, I have built a website that will try to capture all the issues I have had with them and hopefully I can get others to contribute that have also had issues with them. it is at alpinehomesutah.com . Maybe they will change their ways. I have a link to your page as it is insightful and I wish I would have read this before buying from them.

  14. I am not sure about all these comments and as a Subcontractor myself can 100% side with some of the opinions from above. I have worked with Alpine Homes and Holmes Homes in the past and am still currently working with Holmes Homes. Scott w/ Alpine Homes is truly the most dishonest businessman in the valley when it comes to standing by his employees or promises that he or his employees have made. Alpines’ construction however seems to be standard in their respective industry. Their warranty should be stated in their/your respective paperwork to what it is your having them do, if it is not then it is your own fault you don’t have it or didn’t make them give it to you.
    Holmes Homes however does build a home that they are proud of and in 7 years of working with them and becoming a partner in construction with them, I have nothing bad to say. I have personally been called up to warrant work that has been installed by other contractors up to five years before I even worked with them, and they paid me. I have never had to wait for money more than 45 days unless I have billed something out of contract and then I just end up explaining it to them and it for the most part is taken care of. 45 days is heaven if you know the construction world, I also do a large amount of commercial work and have waited from Harper Kilgore for more than a year now on one job and from CraCar Construction I am now claiming on their bond it has been so long. Holmes Homes does obviously have their problems, but like a comment earlier, if you deal with them in a calm manner and address issues properly, I have never seen, again in 7 years of working with them, any issue that was or has not been resolved by Holmes Homes or the respective sub-contractor that caused the issue.
    Just my opinion, though I do have a lot of experience with Holmes Homes and do know that the two owners do want to be responsible for the product in which they build.
    I also have a lot of experience with Alpine Homes and know Scott personally and I would stay far away from them unless you have everything in writing well before you sign any papers (probably have your lawyer on speed dial also).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s