My name is April and I share a Palm Harbor home with Dan (his name is primary on the mortgage papers). I cannot begin to describe what a nightmare purchasing a Palm Harbor home has been. We first walked on to the site of the Tuscaloosa, AL sales center October 2005. We decided on the Hacienda model, and set the wheels in motion to selecting a property and financing our dream home. Since then we were lied to at every turnabout financing (interest rate), closing date, the foundation it would be built on, the final walk-through, insurance, the move-in date, etc. My dream home is (and has been for a year and a half) a living nightmare. We decided on a manufactured home because we were told that it is put on a concrete foundation just like a home, not on blocks, like a trailer. We were told that, unfortunately, we would have to go through one of Palm Harbor's banks because they didn't work with credit unions (Dan and I are both members of a credit union and wanted to finance that way). We were told that with my credit score (720) and our combined income ($100,000+/year), we could easily get 5% financing, and if by some chance we got 6%, we could buy down the interest rate for $2,000. So we signed the paper authorizing the buy down. We closed on January 9th, 2006, two months after we were told that we would close. We were rushed through the whole closing, and none of the dollar amounts looked right to me, but we were assured by the GM that they were what we agreed on. There are two different interest rates in the closing papers, but I thought that after all the signing we would have that 5 or 6% on the paperwork somewhere. It's not, thoughit's 7.85%. The principal amount was also wrong. I have the numbers at home (given to me by the sales rep we were working with before we closed) showing what the principal would be after my $14,100 down payment. The principal amount on the papers we signed was the original principal amount of house and land. We were told at the closing that our homeowner's insurance would be included in the first year's mortgage payments, and after one year we must obtain our own homeowner's policy. In addition to that, all 2006 taxes were included in escrow. At the closing we were also told by him (the second GM in three months) that we would be into our home by the middle of February, which had us excited, since our first mortgage payment wasn't due until May 9th. However, we watched the property experience no improvements whatsoever over the next two monthsnothing was done to prepare the site until March. The new GM at our sales center (Jeff Gelner, the third one in six months) was rude at every face-to-face encounter. The home was finally brought onto the property at the end of March, and we were told by Jeff that we would be in the house in about a week.
Instead the installer spent the next three weeks drinking several cases of beer on our property while installing the house, and even urinating in our toilets before we had the water hooked up. He would call us once a week and say that house would be ready for the final walk-through next weekevery week. During this time the septic tank sank at an angle within a week of installation and had to be redone. We don't have the concrete pad foundation that we were promised. We're on blocks that were mortared to look like a foundation. Then the water line was run through the wall of the mortar instead of underneath it, and that had to be redone. I have a video tape of what the house looked like inside when we received the call that it was ready for the final-walkthrough the first timeit was a disaster area. The actual final-walkthrough was rushed through at 9pm two days before we had to be out of our rented house in April (we were promised that we would be in our new home by the middle of February). The final walk-through was supposed to be a ceremonious event according to Palm Harbor's video. My experience was disappointing, to say the least. In the meantime we had spent $2000 on sod that we couldn't put down because the house wasn't moved in when they said it would be, and it sat off to the side and rotted. We had to pay an extra two weeks' rent for our dogs to stay in the yard at our old house, because we couldn't fence in the yard at our new house until it was completed.
Since we moved in we've had numerous problems (I still have the list saved that I had to email to the company). Factory technicians have had to come out and take care of these problems on two occasions since May. Nothing was sealed up. We had every insect and rodent in the county in our house (including mice, ants, scorpions, spiders, and earwhigs), courtesy of unsealed cabinets, sinks, toilets, shower stalls, and the pantry. The carpet was installed with a bottle cap under the pad in the living room, and that has never been fixed. Also, the trim work in the house was poor, and while the Palm Harbor technicians were able to caulk up cracks around doors and fixtures, there was nothing they could do about the baseboards in one bathroom. The baseboard trim does not meet the doorframe. The AC didn't work for a week after we moved in because the splitter was butchered upon installation, and the ductwork didn't reach half of the vents in the house. It took that long for Jeff or Tanya from the sales center to get someone to come out and fix it. Thank God it was only May. There was broken grout around a tile in the kitchen and in one of the bathrooms, and both tiles had to be replaced. One of the doors on the hutch in the kitchen came completely off its hinges. There was also a problem with shower stalls. Something heavy had been dropped in one of the shower floors, creating a hole that got bigger after we moved in. Also in another shower stall, cracks began to appear in the bottom of the tub. We had to call Baymont Tubs to have them come out and fix these problems, and the technician from there confirmed to me that these problems had to have happened prior to move-in, and was not through any fault of any one of us in the house. The hole was repaired with no problem, but the cracks came back to the other tub and required another visit from a Baymont technician. He had to go under the house to level the tub to prevent further cracks from forming. Then the first time we turned the Jacuzzi on, the breaker box smoked and sizzled, then tripped the breaker off. An electrician was called out to look at it, and he said the house movers had set the house down on the electrical wires, pinching them. It's a good thing the breaker box had tripped, or else we might have had a fire. Soon the icemaker went out on the brand new refrigerator that came with the house, and we had to call GE to come out and replace it. We were told in October on the next visit to our home that a kitchen hutch door would be made and Fed Ex'd to me, and here it is, five months later, and no hutch door. I've had to take off of work several times in the last few months to be home when these repairs are being done (at least three personal days in 2006).
We received in the mail in late December a notice (dated 12/21/06) that our homeowner's insurance would be terminated as of 12/22/06, and if Countryplace Mortgage did not hear from us before then, a new policy would be purchased for us at additional cost to us and added to our mortgage payment. We were supposed to have insurance included until May 2007. And on top of that, we have received a bill from the tax office informing us of another $70+ in 2006 taxes that we have to pay. This was supposed to have been included in escrow.
Now there is a giant crack running down the ceiling of my living room, from one wall to the other, right down the middle of the house. The molding is separating from the ceiling on one end of the house in all three rooms, and the master bathroom sink is separating from the wall. There is also a crack in the wall above the door frame in the parent's retreat. We had a Palm Harbor technician come by on January 15th. He found more cracks than we had seen, and said that the house is indeed coming apart. He said that his manager would have to come and look at these problems, because he believed that the house was not bolted together properly and that something might be wrong with the foundation. The manager was supposed to come by on February 19th, but he said on the phone not to worry about what the first technician said because he was new, and he wouldn't know about such things anyway.
On February 19th a different technician showed up, saying that Randy (the manager that was supposed to come) took a personal day, and this other guy was sent instead. He looked at the cracks from inside the house, and then crawled underneath to look at the floors. He confirmed what the first technician had said: the house was not bolted together properly and was separating. He said that the ceiling and the floor would have to be ripped out and the bolts put into place. He said that if we didn't hear from Palm Harbor in three weeks to give them a call a find out when the work is scheduled to be completed. I went ahead and emailed Tonya Bunch (she was very helpful every time we spoke by phone or email) one week later and asked her what she knew. She informed me that her office was closing and that all open work orders were being sent to Lagrange. I asked her for a contact name, phone number and email address. She gave me a name and email address of the person she believed would be handling our work order. I emailed that person on March 9th, and received no reply. So I emailed her again on March 15th, asking that if she was not our contact person, could she at least give me the name of someone who could help me, and again received no reply.
I have been lied to and deceived at every turn. The house is beautiful, but I am not happy with the house as it is, the financing, or anything else involved in this whole experience. The loan papers I have at home (pre-signed copies) say that Dan and I are residents of Talledega County instead of Tuscaloosa CountyI don't even know if they are binding. I have never felt so ashamed of myself for being so blind, so trusting, and so stupid. I was a first-time home buyer, and I was taken advantage if every way imaginable. All I have asked of Palm Harbor (aside from repairing the home) is to refinance me at 5%, and I would tell everyone that Yes, it was a tough road, but they made everything right! But I can't even get in touch with anyone to get the house repaired, much less get the financing I deserve. The full warranty will expire next month, and they seem to be avoiding me. This is different from buying a lemon carapproximately a $100,000 difference. This is outright robbery.
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