Posted: Jul 24, 2012 5:32 PM by Andy Liscano
Updated: Jul 24, 2012 5:56 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - In the past five years, Landmark Valley Homes of McAllen, Texas has sold more than 200 homes on Corpus Christi's southside to many first time home buyers.
Some of those homeowners are claiming their homes were poorly built and their ten year warranty is of no use because the developer has gone bankrupt.
In a special report, Action 10's Andy Liscano takes a look at these homes. Plus, he goes in search of the company's owner, James Bennett, in the Rio Grande Valley.
There is alot of frustration, disappointment, and anger amongst homeowners in the Vista Hermosa subdivision off of Kostoryz and Holly in Corpus Christi.
They claim their homes - built just five years ago - are falling apart. They point out foundation problems, cracks in the walls, buckling floors, and malfunctioning air conditioning systems.
Homeowner Daniel Vera is upset with city inspectors for signing off on his home.
"The whole frame inside was not braced good at all. Wasn't even touching the...the joists up there. They had to come out and re-do 'em again," said Vera.
Adding to Vera's misery, the ten year warranty Vera and other residents purchased is worthless now. Landmark Valley Homes filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
We tried tracking down company president James Bennett at three different addresses before we learned he'd left town for Louisiana.
Since the bankruptcy filing many unfinished, boarded up homes now belong to banks. Thirteen of those properties are on Santa Ana Street.
Homeowner Lupe Quinones claims the poor construction of the homes has dropped the appraised value in just the 5 years or so they've lived in them.
The home she purchased or $158,489 in 2008 now has an appraised value of $120,752.
Kelly Tinch is in a similar situation. She claims there's a problem with the tile floor in her home and that its appraised value is now at $115, 076, that's $13,000 less than the 2008 value.
"Even if I break even or lose a little money, at least I'll be out from under it because I'll never get back what I paid for it.," says Tinch.
These residents have been trying to get answers, so we continued our search for Bennett. We left messages with a listed phone number in Lousiana, but have not received a return call yet.
We were able to track down former salesperson Maria Estrada. She too purchased a Landmark Valley Home.
We asked her, "Do you think that Landmark Valley Homes was more intent on making a profit and getting out of the area thus they sacrificed quality workmanship on the homes, quality construction on the homes? That's what these people are complaining about."
Estrada replied, "No, you know. I cannot talk bad about Landmark because according to my knowledge they did their best. If you go to the city, they have their permits. You know. It's just sometimes people don't take care of their homes. You know, that is the reality. You know. They're just tired of cleaning their homes." "I've been selling homes for the last 15 years. I know how buyers can be. You know. Buyers can exaggerate. I wouldn't have bought myself a home if it was bad quality," she continued.
She also told us that the troubles with the company are all the result of a downturn in the economy. "The economy struck them really bad. I lost my job. You know everybody did. They owe me money a lot of money you know but what can you do. The economy. We all got screwed on this," said Estrada.
In the meantime, another owner of Landmark Valley Home still blames Bennett for their troubles and summed up their feelings this way. "He's a piece of crap for building these poorly built homes."
As of Tuesday afternoon we have not heard back from the City of Corpus Christi Development Services office about the complaints.
According to Dick Messbarger with the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce, Bennett and his partners bought land for a new subdivision and even put up a model home, but never moved forward with the development.
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