Developers’ woes trickle down to homeowners
Appeal Staff Writer
Bobbi Hammerstaedt did all the right things when she purchased a home in the Waterford subdivision along the Carson River in Dayton last December.
She put 20 percent cash down on the home, got a conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and kept up with her payments.
“I didn’t do any of the inventive loans,” she said.
But financial difficulties in the housing industry have left her responsible actions going for naught – about $60,000 in liens are being placed on her new home because the developer hasn’t been able to pay the subcontractors.
Hammerstaedt is concerned about losing her home to foreclosure because Landmark Homes & Development Inc., hasn’t paid some of the subcontractors, even though Hammerstaedt paid Landmark in good faith.
Sierra Wall Systems, Vista Painting and Arcade Insulation are three of the five companies that have placed mechanic’s liens against her home to force payments of $6,900, $2,100 and $2,500 respectively, according to attorney Jeffrey Briggs, who represents Sierra Wall Systems.
NRS108 allows contractors to put mechanic’s liens on homes if they are not paid, and it makes no difference if it is the owner or developer who doesn’t pay, though Briggs said rarely does the situation get to foreclosure.
However, Briggs said, that is not likely to happen.
“My expectation is that some money is going to be paid, and hopefully these things will go away,” he said. “The chances of us going through an entire trial is nil, it’s not going to happen. Someone is going to pay.”
Briggs said this situation is not unique to Landmark Homes, many other large developers are in the same boat.
“All the big developers in the Northern Nevada area that were riding the high tide are now feeling the pinch,” he said, adding that he has filed two actions in Lyon County and 11 in Washoe County on behalf of clients.
Briggs said the mechanic’s lien is placed against the property, rather than the owner, and that NRS108 allows for a security interest in the home to ensure builders get paid.
“The goal is to ensure that the guys who build the windows and do the paving get paid, that someone isn’t living in a house that someone else built and didn’t get paid for it. But in this case there is a middleman that sold a home, took full value and still didn’t pay.”
Briggs said he has not only filed a lien against the property, he has filed suit against Landmark on behalf of Sierra Walls, as well as filed a complaint with the contractor’s board. He said Landmark has not responded to the lawsuit.
Landmark owner Jim Bawden said his company was trying to work out these issues.
“My understanding is that those issues have been addressed or are being addressed,” he said in a message.
Dean Pearson, senior vice president and director of land acquisition and development for Landmark, confirmed that some contractors haven’t yet been paid because of the slow market.
“We have been working through that with our subcontractor,” he said.
Working through it can’t come fast enough for Hammerstaedt.
“They’re ruining my credit,” she said. “If I want to refinance it, I can’t.”
“If I want to sell it, I can’t. I wasn’t planning on doing those things, but I should have the right to do it if I want,” she said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.