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This is Getting Ugly – Coming Soon to a Builder Near You.

Real Estate Agent with Prudential Caruthurs

Anyone who lives in Maryland has probably read in the "Sun" and the "Aegis" about tragedy of Altieri Homes. 

Are they criminals?  Or victims of the economy.

Altieri Homes is based out of Columbia County.  They have been charged by Maryland's attorney general with taking deposits and payments from about 20 homebuyers in Howard and Harford counties without starting or finishing building the homes.

They have also been accused of failing to pay subcontractors, refunding customer's


The storm of our economy


deposits or advance payments.  Many other builders are facing the same thing, but this is the first I've heard of an attorney general getting involved or threatening "severe sanctions" against companies falling victim to the housing market.

In the Baltimore Sun, Douglas Gansler, Maryland's attorney general, stated "My office will seek severe sanctions against builders who operate without being registered (not the case here) or fail to properly handle consumer deposits."  He fails to mention that our governments (state and federal) do this on a daily basis without reprisal.

I would like to know why Altieri Homes is being made the example?  Instead of folding, as many independent lumber yards in Maryland I know of have done, they simply tried to stay afloat for as long as they could, only to find that the banks were no longer lending.  Why aren't charges being leveled at the lending institutions?  Fannie and Freddie and the congressmen who conned so many investors into believing all was okay with them?

Many, many home builders have had to close their doors or struggle over the past few years because of the housing market.  I know personally the family's of two big ones here in Maryland that have had to either pull their offices out of the state or shut down completely.

As tight as this market is, not enough business is to be had to help cushion a builder to fix any trouble spots or make repairs on construction, which is also one of the problems Altieri faces.

My husband (a wholesale lumber and millwork representative) has been laid off since January 30th.  He has had no job bites other than the odd jobs through people at church every so often.  We don't own a big house, we didn't overspend during the "heyday".  We have three vehicles . . . none of them under 10 years old, and we have no credit cards.  We haven't used them in over six years.  We are just now coming to the end of what we had in savings.  We never expected him to be out of work this long and my business  (real estate) is choppy at best.

I really don't think that the people who provided the jobs should be the one the government goes after when they themselves are the ones who were not only complicit, but created this mess.  How do you get blood out of a turnip?  Tax it?  Are you freaking kidding me?

It does not matter what the attorney general does to Altieri Homes at this point.  It is obvious they are broke.  The best they can hope to accomplish is to make it impossible for them to ever carry a contractor's license again and possibly take the rest of everything they own.

As for me and my husband, I guess we'll just hold out and do the best that we can until the attorney general starts coming after private citizens when they can no longer pay their bills.

Andrew Haslett
Van Warren Home Inspections, NAHI CRI - Fort Knox, KY
Heartland of Kentuckynulls, Best Home Inspector

Bonnie, the fatalities keep piling up.

I'm sorry to hear about your own situation. If you've made it this far, hopefully you can get the rest of the way past this bump in the road.

It seems that those of us in the trenches have a very different perspective of the problems and the solutions.

It appears our elected and appointed officials continue to fail to grasp the situation.

We just have to hang on.

Jun 14, 2009 09:15 AM
Julie Chapman
Julie Chapman Broker - Ormond Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida


When the current administration realizes that the only thing that has ever brought this country out of an economic crisis is by correcting the real estate market especially new home construction and sales, the sooner this will all end.  Every time a home is built, jobs are created...(like your husband and my own).....the economy is stimulated.......... shall I continue? 

Jun 14, 2009 09:44 AM
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ


First, I'm wishing you and hubby all the best.

Second, I wonder if those deposits were supposed to be held in a trust account - the fail to "properly handle" portion. 

Jun 14, 2009 02:15 PM
Bonnie Cox
Prudential Caruthurs - Bel Air, MD

Hi Andrew,

I don't have a problem hanging on at all.  I very much appreciate the support.  But it does really get my hackles up when I see government beating up on the business man who is just trying to survive in a bad economy.  Many saw this coming.  Very few new it was this bad . . . and those few are the congressmen who were singing the praises of some lending giants when they know they were in trouble.  Had  the rest of us known?  We could have been much better prepared and many probably would have not made the borrowing and investing decisions they had made.

Julie - The current administration has another agenda it seems . . . to get as much travel and give away as much of our money as they can before they get voted out.  I have seen no concrete policies even formulated as of yet and don't hold much hope.  Maybe we'll get smart like England did and hold a vote of no-confidence.  The real estate market is correcting as we speak (write?)  It just took way too many jobs with it.  If Rengle and Frank hadn't lied about the health of the lending giants and allowed them to be regulated, it wouldn't have been so bad.  The United States is proof that nothing is too big to fail.  Some legacy, huh?

Irene - I did think about the "deposits", but my husband used to own a contracting company.  Not sure if the new home construction works the same way, but deposits on construction (contracting home improvement) are not put into a trust.  They are used for the purchasing of materials, payroll, etc . . . The bank loan convers the remainder to complete the job.  Once the job is complete, the customer pays the remaining balance (we required 1/3 down, 1/3 halfway and the remaining 1/3 on completion).  I'm not saying there weren't bad choices made (starting other houses when you had problems getting others completed, for example), I just don't think the correct story is being told.

Jun 14, 2009 04:31 PM