‘We felt bullied’: Home buyers left hanging after developer Boulos hikes prices, cancels contracts
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Some Tallahassee home buyers are considering legal action after the Boulos Corporation tried to dramatically increase the purchase price for new homes that were already under contract, according to documents provided to WCTV.
In January, an agent for Boulos contacted people buying homes in the Tower Gates subdivision, asking them to sign an addendum to their contracts increasing the price of their homes by $24,000 or cancel the contract. The letter cited “unforeseen circumstances out of the developer’s control.”
“We felt bullied by being only given these two options,” prospective buyer Richard Rubin wrote in an email. The buyers and their realtors say there was no language in the initial contract allowing such a price increase.
Boulos representatives have told realtors and prospective buyers that more than 30 people were facing the price increase. The Tower Gates subdivision is a neighborhood of about 150 homes being developed off Tower Road in northeast Tallahassee. Most homes there are listed in the $250,000 to $300,000 price range.
Some buyers, such as Rubin, simply agreed to cancel their contract to avoid the price hike.
“It was heartbreaking,” Rubin said. “Because that was supposed to be our first home. My fiancé and I were planning on setting our roots there and starting a family. “We don’t have an extra $24,000 around, you know, we’re young people. So we decided that we didn’t really have any other options but to just to cancel the contract.”
Others, like Jonathan Dye, refused to sign off on cancellation, and they say Boulos canceled their contract unilaterally, citing “circumstances beyond its control.” Prospective buyers and realtors have provided documents to WCTV showing the initial contracts, the follow-up conversations about the price increase and the contract cancellations.
“We were floored that this was their stance considering the company’s motto was specifically built on the idea that homes should be a reasonable market price,” Dye told WCTV.
Dye says he and his fiancée are now working with an attorney.
“I have never seen or heard of something like this happening before,” said real estate broker Dale Adams with Keller Williams, whose client had their contract canceled.
“We had received written and verbal confirmation that there would be no price increase. Also, I am not aware of a provision in the contract that allows for Boulos to terminate the contract if a buyer did not agree to a price increase,” Adams said.
Adams shared with WCTV an email exchange prior to his clients signing their contract. In it, Adams specifically asked about a possible price increase. A real estate agent representing Boulos wrote “The price is firm once you go to contract.”
Leanne Avant, Vice President of Boulos Builders, issued a statement after WCTV reached out about the concerns, attributing the price hikes to supply chain issues.
“We are living in unprecedented times,” the statement says, “Material delays due to supply chain issues are difficult for everyone, whether buying a gallon of milk or building a new home. This is a global concern, not limited to Boulos Builders. Everyone in our industry is faced with making difficult decisions due to material delays. We feel that the fairest way to continue to meet the housing shortage is to offer our clients options or return 100% of their deposit with zero penalties. We are happy that many families have chosen to stay with us and continue to build their homes. It is a partnership of choice as we all continue to navigate this unchartered territory.”
Avant declined to speak on camera and also declined to answer questions over the phone.
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