Homebuyers demand answers after construction delays – NBC 6 South Florida

A group of buyers say they’ve waited years to move into their dream home.

The townhouses in the heart of Coconut Grove are modern, spacious, and are still under construction.

The homebuyers we spoke to say they repeatedly demanded answers from the developer of the project, only to receive apologies. They asked us to conceal their identity, telling us that they feared reprisals.

A man, whom we’ll call Lee, says he should already be living in one of the houses.

“The house was expected to be completed 45 to 60 days from the date we signed the contract,” Lee said.

He showed us the contract he says he signed over two years ago with the private developer – Douglas Cox of Drive Development, LLC and Send Enterprises, LLC – to buy the house.

The contract stipulates that construction would be substantially complete in approximately 60 days from the date the contract is signed, subject to construction delays.

“We bought a house that was built, and there were just minor things to finish inside,” Lee said.

The contract required a 20% deposit worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s all of our life savings, are in this house,” Lee said.

Lee is not alone.

NBC 6 Responds spoke to four other families who told us they’ve also been waiting years for their properties in the same development to close.

“Being told 45 days, every 45 days, for years is mind-numbing, after a while you don’t believe anything he says,” one shopper told us.

‘The housing market has since exploded

When we asked the group of buyers why they weren’t giving up on their contracts, one replied, “The housing market has since exploded.”

And it swelled.

According to Zillow, over the past three years, the value of a typical home in Metro Miami has increased by 58%. That’s why the families we spoke to say they don’t want to leave the homes they have on contract, telling us they fear they won’t be able to afford a similar home.

But other families decided to walk away and sue promoter Douglas Cox.

A lawsuit filed in January alleged breach of contract by the developer for “failure to substantially complete construction”. That case was thrown out because their contract stated that any disputes had to be handled by a mediator or arbitrator, according to court documents.

Another lawsuit was filed in July by another homebuyer, who claims more than a year and a half after the agreed closing date and his home is still not ready to close. This case is ongoing and is also heading to arbitration.

Developer response

NBC 6 Responds contacted the developer and an attorney representing its companies sent us the following statement:

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented and unpredictable delays for all industries, including the construction industry in South Florida. Coupled with the pandemic, the construction industry, among many others, has suffered (and continues to suffer) the effects of extraordinary global supply chain disruptions. These events have caused shipping delays, material and labor shortages, abrupt closures of vendors and suppliers, shutdowns and other health-related delays affecting many of our contractors. , suppliers, vendors, materialists, trade professionals and municipal officials on whom we rely to carry out our construction projects. Unfortunately, construction on Coconut Avenue is no exception. Despite these unforeseen obstacles, we proceeded quickly and in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We have not caused or created any of the delays associated with the completion of the Coconut Avenue projects.

Despite those delays, the lawsuit filed in July claims the buyer entered into a contract months after the pandemic began and was still promised a closing date within 60 days.

We asked Cox’s attorney about that lawsuit, but were told he couldn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

His attorney said the following regarding homebuyers who are still waiting to close their properties: “We understand that buyers are eager to move into their beautiful new homes, but despite our best efforts, these delays are completely beyond our control. control. However, as a courtesy to buyers who choose not to wait for their home to be completed, beginning in late 2020 and regularly thereafter, we have extended an open-ended, no-obligation, unconditional invitation to each buyer for he terminates his agreement and receives a full and immediate refund of their deposit, without any penalty. For buyers who choose to wait for their home, we honor our commitment to providing a quality, well-built property with meticulous attention to detail that every buyer will be proud to call home.

The buyers we spoke to say that this offer only benefits one person, the developer.

“The market has changed, for all the reasons it wants us out, are all the reasons we can’t go find something else,” one buyer told us.

Audit connected to development

We contacted the City of Miami Building Department and they reported several delays related to this development, including a “stop work order” placed on some of the properties in 2020. This is an issue that has put nearly two years for the developer to fix up, according to city records.

A ministry spokesperson told us that this project was not approved and inspected by the city but by a private supplier hired by the developer.

After we contacted the city, they are now conducting an audit of this private provider as part of this development.

We contacted both the private vendor and the developer regarding the audit, but neither responded to our questions.

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