As most people who are from Northern Virginia can attest, living here does not come cheap. So you can imagine how ecstatic my husband and I were when we came across K. Hovnanian Homes in Haymarket, VA. The townhomes K. Hovnanian built in the Westmarket Community looked absolutely gorgeous!
In fact, we purchased was a 2,200 square foot luxury, brick-front townhouse. It included options such as stainless steel appliances, maple cabinetry, Corian countertops, hardwood floors, upgraded ceramic tile in master bath, and a 2-level bump-out. Not only that, but the neighborhood seemed perfect as well. There was a community pool, tennis courts, and basketball courts. However, as we learned quickly, if it looks too good to be true... it must be.
For the price of $298K my husband and I, first-time homebuyers, thought that we were making a smart choice. At the time we purchased the townhome, townhomes of comparable size (that were built in late 90s and early 2000) cost approximately $400K-$425K in Fairfax County. Even though Haymarket is approximately 45 miles from Washington, DC, we decided that it was still the best bargain we could get, and since we were working in the Chantilly area, we thought that the commute to work would not be too bad (growing up in NoVA you get used to traffic).
So our options were: 1) purchase a brand new townhome in Haymarket for $298K with all the options and luxuries we wanted, or 2) pay $100K extra to buy an older home in the Fairfax County area. Naturally, we couldn't resist the temptation of having a brand new home with all the options we were looking for, and K. Hovnanian seemed to fit the bill. They were providing the best bargain, throwing in great incentives (such as a fully-fenced back-yard), and aesthetically, the house and the community was perfect in every way.
We dealt with a helpful sales representative from the Westmarket Community, but after settlement everything seemed to go terribly wrong... and very fast. The poor craftsmanship and poor community planning were quite evident shortly after we moved in. We had issues ranging from faulty plumbing connections, mosquito problems, noise disturbances due to thin walls, and mice infestations, to name a few.
Shortly after we moved in, the dishwasher leaked to our basement because the construction crew failed to connect the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. Since the home was still under warranty, K. Hovnanian did send someone to fix the problem. When they did come to fix the garbage disposal, we didn't realize that they cracked it. By the time we realized this, it was too late to make a claim. The garbage disposal replacement cost us $500 (with installation).
Behind our row of townhomes, was the community's water reservoir. We learned that K. Hovnanian (and not Prince William County) was still responsible for the maintenance and up-keep of the reservoir. However, the summer we moved in, K. Hovnanian poorly maintained the reservoir, leading to serious mosquito problems. Since K. Hovnanian did not install a feature such as a water fountain, the stagnant water in the reservoir attracted mosquitoes... and plenty of them. The problem was so bad, that our next-door neighbor contracted malaria after spending a short time on her deck.
It wasn't until more homeowners voiced their anger that K. Hovnanian decided to do anything about the situation, and it wasn't until the next summer that a water fountain was installed. Poor materials/appliances along with a terrible construction manager adds to the insult of paying so much for a home, and then dealing with so many issues. The walls had to be constructed with the most cheapest material, because my husband and I could easily hear our neighbors' activities.
In fact, apartment-living, was a more quiet experience than living in our own home. We could easily hear our neighbors going up and down the stairs, closing doors, and (embarrassingly) having intimate moments. The appliances they provided with the home looks good, but are definitely cheap, since our refrigerator door handle never managed to stay on for more than 2-weeks. The windows the house was constructed with are so energy inefficient. Our winter gas bill would be $220/mo, and I attributed it to the fact that all the heat would escape through the windows (despite having covered them up with thick curtains).
For our 1-year inspection, we scheduled it as requested. However, K. Hovnanian did not show up. They apologized for messing up the appointment, and requested for a different date/time. When we couldn't honor that date/time (due to a conflict with my husband's work), K. Hovnanian indicated that if we didn't allow them to perform the inspection for that specific date/time, then we would have to forfeit our 1-year inspection. Since my husband had to be at work, we had no other choice, thus leaving us to make any repairs to the home ourselves.
Lastly, I would like to mention the awful problem we encountered with the mice. This by far, was the most difficult problem we encountered. We learned, through our pest control technician, that we were not the only homeowners with the issue. In fact, the majority of homes in our street had the same issue, since he serviced them as well. Upon some research, my next-door neighbor, discovered that K. Hovnanian decided to build the Westmarket community on what used to be a Boy's Scout camping ground.
When we mentioned this information to our pest control technician, he concurred that disturbing such a place would be what caused the mice to come into our homes. This piece of information, suggests that K. Hovnanian, did nothing to inform their homeowners of the occurrence... because logically, when you disturb a mice nest, the construction manager should have seen the amount of mice escaping from it. Yet, they did nothing. Doing nothing caused us homeowners (who were clean and tidy people) left to deal with the problem.
By the time us homeowners realized we had mice in our homes, it was too late to do anything. The mice have already created their nests in between the walls, and they probably created an access path between all connecting townhomes, too. So despite what one homeowner could do to eliminate the problem in their home, the mice still had access, via other townhomes, making the mice entry difficult to determine, and thus the making the mice difficult to eradicate.
My husband and I realize, that home builders, are in the business of making homes. And, like any other business, they need to make their profit. But, what we cannot agree with, is that K. Hovnanian took short-cuts and were negligent to an extent which caused homeowners, like myself, to suffer through issues as we've mentioned. When you are making a large purchase, such as that of home, you have certain expectations. You expect that the home is planned and constructed properly, and that you receive a certain level of service (which we didn't receive).
Our advice to those thinking of purchasing a home from K. Hovnanian is: 1) Do not be awestruck by the beautiful home they are selling you. 2) Take the time to hire your own home inspector (even though it's a new home). 3) Have a full understanding of what you're getting into as well, by researching on the land they are constructing your home on, and by learning what kind of materials they are constructing your home with.
COTTAGE GROVE, MINNESOTA -- On September 27, 2007 we closed on our K Hovnanian home located in the Silverwood community at **. When we signed our purchase contract on March 10th, 2007 we requested a price protection guarantee to protect our financial investment in the current unstable housing market. Even though K Hovnanian was no longer offering the price protection guarantee we were granted one in order to secure our business.
At the time of our purchase we were given a total of $50,000 in incentives which were as follows: $25,000 for using K Hovnanian's preferred lender, $15,000 for selecting more than $100,000 in options and an additional $10,000 for writing our contract non contingent on the sale of our current home. The base price of the home we purchased was $409,995, we were charged a $15,385.85 lot premium for the location of our lot and then we selected a total of $174,630.00 in options for a total purchase price of $548,170.85 (we chose to use $5,000 of our incentive money towards closing costs, therefore the final purchase price showed as $553,170.85).
On September 14th, K Hovnanian launched their highly touted nationwide sale named the "Deal of the Century". When we approached the Silverwood sales staff in regards to the increased incentives and our price protection guarantee we were told that our home site would not have been included in the Deal of the Century offerings as they were now referring to our home site as a premium lot.
Since we initially had to pay a lot premium of $15,000 and now were being excluded from the extra $50,000 in incentives due to the location of our lot, essentially we were now paying a $65,000 lot premium as another buyer was able to build a larger home for $100,000 less than us, on a lot located 4 lots away from ours. It was my understanding that this is what the price protection addendum was supposed to protect us from.
Our home site is by no means a premium lot. The lot is so narrow that we had to forfeit the original option we chose of extending the width of the garage because it would have extended our home beyond the city codes and even purchased a home with a small footprint. There were many other floor plans including the Silverwood's model home that would have been excluded from being built on our home site due to their larger footprint. This definitely would have limited the number of potential buyers for our home site since most of the homes built in the community are what is modeled, the Gershwin, the home with the largest footprint.
The price protection addendum states that "if at the time of closing the purchase price (excluding any home site premium paid for the location of the lot) for the property as listed in the purchase agreement is greater than what the purchase price would be due to incentives that seller is offering at the time of closing, then at closing, seller shall give purchaser a credit against the purchase price equal to the difference". The addendum defines that incentives shall include those offered within the community for similar architectural homes.
The fine print on the Deal of the Century states the offer is only valid if a purchase contract is signed no later than 9/21/07 however the buyers of the home site located at block 3, lot 14 (which was a home site that per the Deal of the Century specifications was supposed to be classified in the $80,000 incentive bracket not the $100,000) did not sign their purchase contract until 9/29/07 and were still given $80,000 in incentives.
Then at a later date they were given almost an additional $20,000 in incentives that included no charge upgrades of oil rubbed bronze plumbing fixtures, a movie theater room and an additional $5,000 for changing their purchase contract to non contingent, giving them close to $100,000 in total incentives. The buyers of this home site are friends of ours that we referred to the community.
Prior to closing on our home, the base price of the model we purchased was lowered to $384,995, $25,000 less than we were charged. When we approached the sales staff again with our price protection guarantee we were told that the preferred lender incentive was now only $10,000 instead of $25,000 and the options incentive was $10,000, so $40,000 total in incentives. The sales staff said there would not be any additional incentives given for writing non contingent which we found out after closing not to be a truthful statement.
Once again referring to the buyers, our friends, of block 3, lot 14 who were given additional incentives totaling almost $20,000 for changing their purchase contract to non contingent. If we did not close on the property as schedule we would have lost our earnest deposit plus we would have lost our deposit given to K Hovnanian's preferred lender to qualify for a builder cap rate. Also, per the purchase price protection addendum, in order to qualify for the protection we had to comply with closing on the purchase property as required by the purchase agreement. Either way we were set up for economic failure since our life savings was invested in this home.
For the new year K Hovnanian has reintroduced their supposed guarantee, advertising on their website to potential fearful buyers stating that they guarantee low prices, giving the buyer "peace of mind" and standing behind every home they build by offering an exclusive price protection guarantee. K Hovnanian gave us a guarantee and then used deception to avoid having to follow through with their guarantee.
Our real estate agent is our witness of what was stated to us by the Silverwood sales staff. We have access to the purchase agreement signed by another buyer within the community. We have a copy of the Deal of the Century promotion and the reduced base price of the model we purchased and most importantly we have our price protection addendum. Not being given the additional incentives that we should have has cost us a lot of money.
With even just another $25,000 in incentives we could have had a conforming mortgage with a lower interest rate rather than a jumbo loan than, we've lost money due to interest we could have earned by keeping more money in savings as a lower purchase price would have required less money to meet the 20% down criteria. Not to mention higher homeowner insurance premiums and higher property taxes.
ASHBURN, VIRGINIA -- We recently had experience dealing with KHov folks selling over by Willowsford Farm in Ashburn, VA. Initially, they had a pretty good incentive package. Basically $30K of "free" incentive with additional $10K credited towards closing if you went with their lender. Sounds pretty fair right? We've put down the offer with a lot of upgrades (structural) and wrote up a contract putting down our initial earnest money. The experience after that was absolutely horrible and in my honest opinion, highly unethical.
Our offer/negotiation time took over a month. We gave them what was asked based on the price checklist sheet that they provided. Then there were a lot of back and forth that they want more money. It was to me a very much "bait and lure" game. The incentives to me were fake b/c in the end they wanted full price and more. They basically sat on the offer and entertained others to drive up the home sale value of the lot.
The communication gap on the status of the contract was in gaps of days. Sometimes a week. They gave us verbal/preliminary acceptance a few times. Then they came back and reject the contract. We played this game a few times but in the end, the price of the home (to us) just inflated out of control and we folded. What a waste of time. If they wanted to do this, why not just initially advertise the price. Very unprofessional and dirty business. I would NOT recommend folks going with KHov. It's such a shame b/c Willowsford is such a great community. It deserves honest builders doing business with home buyers. Are other home builders like this?
My best advice to anyone looking to buy a new home is to stay as far away from K Hovnanian Homes as possible. They are nothing but a bunch of liars and scam artists all the way to the top. They will sugar coat anything to get a sale. Even when you think you have purchased a home, you may find yourself living in an apartment. Trust me on this one.... they don't care or take responsibility for their actions and poor business decisions. Get in line if you want a hassle. I'm amazed at all of the complaints I've heard about this builder, that they are even in business. Perhaps they won't be long and that would be no loss.
433 BRUSH RUN ROAD, GREENSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA -- There is a KHov home building across the street from my house right now. It is the only house under construction in the community, and the construction driveway is directly across from my mailbox. Since we are near the end of a dead-end street, there is little traffic besides residents and construction vehicles. After watching several trucks back up with ladders hanging off the back and change positions with each other, it was only a matter of time. I came home to find a large gash down to the bare steel and a dent in the side of my mailbox. Since it was not on the driveway side, it's pretty obvious that one of the trucks backed into it while exiting the construction site.
I tried for two weeks to contact someone about addressing it, and finally had to call the corporate office. When the build manager finally did call me, he refused to accept any responsibility for it. In fact, he decided to blame a UPS driver instead (UPS doesn't drive in reverse last I checked). So instead of making a good faith effort to correct the problem, they argued with me and gave me a terrible impression of their company. It would not cost them much to correct the problem and build good faith with the residents in a community where they could have more potential business.
Instead, they handled the situation poorly and tarnished my opinion. I will be sure to tell any new lot owners not to choose this company for their home. They don't seem to value other's property or care when they damage it, so imagine what they will do in your house should you build with them.
BEAUMONT, CALIFORNIA -- DO NOT BUY FROM KHovnanian unless you are ready for a nightmare. Their sales people will tell you anything they think you want to hear and the builder does not deliver. Their construction leaves much to be desired. Don't believe the photos you are shown of your house, or even the models. Your new home will not look anything like what you are shown. We are in a new development of approx 200 homes at this time and I would say more than half of the residences are unhappy with this builder.
They promise and DO NOT deliver. And if you take up your plea with them, they will stand by their statements of "artist's rendition" of your home's exterior and say that it is OK for your home not to look like what you SIGNED for at the initial contract signing. Only one week after moving in, I had a leak of the hot water faucet which ran across my office. I had to be out of the office for 3 weeks while they repaired the room, only to have it done so poorly initially that they had to do it a second time.
The lawns are not watered timely, plants are dead, and the grass is not even level. It is very distressing to have a new home and have to constantly fight with the builder to get things corrected only to have them tell you they aren't going to do anything about your problem.