Sonoma Housing Bubble

Pulling the cork out of Sonoma's bubbly housing foolishness

Friday, April 28, 2006

McMansion Turned McMoneyPit

McNightmare Story from SFGATE

"Come Monday, barring any drastic changes, Jacob Holmes, his wife, Sharmaine, and their three children will pitch a tent in the living room of their $700,000 dream home, spark up the propane stove and start roughing it."

"It wasn't long after they moved into the brand new two-story house at 1018 Promenade St. in Hercules that they discovered a laundry list of problems."

"The house leaked like a sieve. There was no way to get into the attic. And though they didn't know it at the time, there was a gas leak on the property."

"The mold and water experts identified dangerous levels of mold in numerous places and confirmed that at least half of the 48 windows in the house leak. Other leaks sprang from faulty plumbing connections, and Holmes saw water seeping in from an outside pipe. The builders even forgot to cut an opening in the ceiling to reach the attic."

"To top it off, city building officials told the family in September 2005 that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. had found a gas leak on the property."

'"This has been an ongoing situation for coming on to two years, and he's had several problems with the house," Ed Galigher, president of Western Pacific's Bay Area division said." (Owned by DR Horton)

"We've had some construction issues, and that happens with most houses, but he's had more problems than most people have."'

"The family moved out of the house in June 2003, just five months after they moved in, to allow workers to take care of the mold. They returned two weeks later, but it was less than a year before more leaks and more mold forced them out in May 2004."

"That was two years ago. The house, gutted to the framing studs, has been vacant ever since -- and Holmes is still making mortgage payments."

'"We planned on being here till we couldn't walk up the stairs anymore, but these people have turned what was supposed to be our dream home into a nightmare," Holmes, a 37-year-old Oakland firefighter, said. "I spent my life's savings, and I've never enjoyed a single day in that house."'

"They have not lived there since."

"Western Pacific Homes set up the family in a temporary home a few blocks away and promised to fix everything."

"At first, Holmes was patient, sure that Western Pacific would make things right. But when the contractor did an abrupt about-face in July 2004 and offered to buy the place back instead of fixing it, his patience began to wear thin."

"Western Pacific's lawyer sent Holmes a letter saying the company would no longer foot the bill for temporary housing -- or anything else."

"It's easy to see why the Holmes family has held on to its dream home with such determination. The couple moved in after leaving their first home at 75th and Bancroft avenues, by most any measure a rough section of Oakland."

"The family's Victorian house was among nearly 230 new homes during the first phase of a Hercules development that would eventually include more than 900 houses. It sits in a tidy neighborhood that enjoys the picturesque sunset bay views that have become a hallmark of Bay Area living."

"It was everything -- better schools, a painless commute and a brand new home -- they'd been dreaming of for years."

"But it's become a nightmare, and Holmes can't understand why Western Pacific won't step up.
"It seems to me like they've spent more money keeping us out of the house rather than trying to get us back in it," he said."


At 4/28/2006 02:40:00 PM , Anonymous tom stone said...

i guess the buyer finally got tired of the happy horseshit from the builder and or the builder sold everything in that development and no longer cares about a little bad publicity.i wonder how many of those homes i saw being built during the rains out of heavy duty cardboard will have mold know that sawdust and glue sh!t that outgasses poison...haven't there been problems with this stuff before?

At 4/28/2006 06:10:00 PM , Blogger Bubble-X said...

Wow... a 700k house with a firefighter's salary? That's pretty good!

Nothing against firefighters, though.. Esp, from here in NYC.

At 4/28/2006 06:19:00 PM , Blogger Athena said...

Don't kid yourself. Firefighters make pretty good money. Granted not enough to make ME run into a burning building while everyone else runs out... they certainly work a lot harder than I do and for less $$ but on the whole compared to the average incomes in some of the north bay areas- they are well paid in that comparison. Again, for the work they do it should be more... but from a pure comparison standpoint they have it better than most.

However, I don't know any firefighters who should be qualifying for a $700k mortgage... at least not the traditional kind.

At 4/28/2006 08:10:00 PM , Anonymous tom said...

a firefighter will make $100k plus,and if he moved some equity from the old house he might have a conventional loan,a couple of years ago he could have got a 30 year fixed at 5.25% and his wife may work as well.the payment mentioned was %3,000 a month which is indicative of about $550k in borrowing.


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