PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – As businesses and everyday workers try to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, some local nurses are accusing builder Century Communities of not negotiating in good faith with families navigating the financial downturn. Two area nurses, who say their hours and income were significantly impacted by COVID-19, claim Century Communities refused to return portions of deposits, and relisted their Alder Village properties before cancellation was confirmed.
Masha and Maria, both surgical nurses in local operating rooms, claimed the builder failed to negotiate an agreement that would’ve cancelled both of their contracts, while also returning at least a portion of their $7,500 deposits. CBS4 agreed to not share their last names, or the hospitals where they work.
Both Masha, and Maria, said their individual families’ ability to afford the homes they once intended to purchase was significantly hindered by the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.
“(My husband and I) loved the home. But, when COVID hit, we were scared and insecure about this purchase,” Maria told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
Both nurses work in the operating room. The surgeon general ordered all elective surgeries be postponed or cancelled during the initial response to the virus. Because of that, some nurses were furloughed. Others, like Masha and Maria, experienced cutback hours and reassignments to the front lines of the battle with COVID-19.
“A lot of my shifts were cancelled,” Masha said.
For Masha and her husband, the cutback hours and uncertainty in his career stability made the purchase of a new home ill-advised.
The same applied to Maria, who claimed she told Century Communities her family would no longer qualify financially for the home they already agreed to purchase. And, due to Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order, selling their current home was jeopardized.
“We were contingent. We were dependent on selling our home in order to buy our new home,” Maria said. “(Going forward with a new home) would be terrible for my family.”
Masha, the mother of two young children, said the economic impact of the virus impacted her current financial worries, on top of the concerns of affording a new home. Masha said her family needed to prioritize providing for each other over owning a new home.
“(I was left to wonder) am I going to buy lunch, or am I going to pay my bills?” Masha said.
Both families claim they reached out to Century Communities in hope of explaining their current financial status and concerns with hope the builder would cancel the contracts and return a portion of the $7,500 deposit. Both said they knew the contract with Century Communities protected the builder, and not the buyer, before signing it. However, like most people, they didn’t expect a pandemic to jeopardize multiple incomes.
Both Masha and Maria said Century Communities failed to express any interest in negotiating an end to the contracts that would return some funds. Masha said her request for negotiations that would benefit both parties was met with a response that simply provided paperwork for cancellation.
“(Century Communities said,) ‘We are going to keep your deposit, and there is nothing else we can do for you,’” Masha recalled. “They didn’t seem to have any empathy to what we were experiencing.”
Before Masha and her husband came to a finalized decision on the future of their home, she claims Century Communities had already listed their property for sale, entertaining offers for a property which, by contract, still belonged to her family.
“Our home was actually already relisted for sale,” Masha said.
Maria’s family eventually signed the cancellation and forfeited $7,500, which she says was more financially responsible than entering an unaffordable mortgage.
Following the intervention of a realtor, Masha said Century Communities did offer to transfer her family’s $7,500 toward the purchase of a new home. However, Masha said that was only a six-month offer, and would’ve required an additional $7,500 to secure the land on the second home. Meaning her family would’ve invested $15,000 with Century Communities during the pandemic. Her family ultimately decided to forfeit their $7,500 and cancel.
CBS4 reached out to Century Communities, requesting an interview on the accusations brought forward by both nurses. A list of the accusations made were provided to the company. The builder requested the names of the families in the contracts to look further in to the claims, which were provided with consent from both Masha and Maria.
However, in a written statement emailed to CBS4, Century Communities Vice President for Corporate Marketing Alyson Benn said the company could not comment on the specifics outlined by the two families.
“Thank you for allowing our team to look into the matter further. Our commitment to our customers is our highest priority, and during the pandemic, we have been diligently working with buyers on a case-by-case basis in giving every consideration possible. Because we protect buyer information, we do not publicly disclose details regarding buyers’ contracts that would shed further light on our position,” Benn wrote.
Both families said they understand the builder is trying to run a business, and has employees to pay as well. Both applauded local builders for going out of their way to provide meals and PPE to area hospitals.
Though Masha said Century Communities was highly recommended by peers who purchased new-builds before the pandemic, she felt a perceived lack of empathy from the builder to help nurses during a time of financial crisis and instability was telling.
“This could have been an amazing extension of their gratitude to health care workers in their community,” Masha said.