A Tale of Two Developers in NW Washington DC & Bethesda, MD

We had a chance this week to watch as buyers had their final walk thrus of units in two new condo buildings in the D.C. area. One was in a very popular high rise in the Mount Vernon Square area and the other was in a smaller building in downtown Bethesda. In both instances, the developers had a pre-walk thru a week prior to settlement where the buyers produced a punch list of items in their units that were either not completed or not completed to their satisfaction. In both cases, the buyers were warned to be very careful in compiling this list because only items noted on the list would be corrected by the developer – and in both cases, the buyers brought in a professional home inspector to help prepare the punch list.

That’s where the similarities ended. In the downtown condo, the “punch list” was handled by a representative of the builder/developer who was the gate-keeper for what went on the list. In other words, if the purchaser (or purchaser’s inspector) determined that something was unacceptable, it only went on the list if the developer’s representative agreed. In the Bethesda building, the gatekeeper was a third party who was handling the warranty for the developer. While the D.C. developer’s rep was clearly trying to keep things off his list, the warranty company’s representative in Bethesda was anxious to have all deficiencies noted so that they could be repaired prior to his company taking over responsibility. It’s clear which system worked best for the buyer – and I’d argue (in the long run) for the builder/developer.

I think you can guess the end of the story. It was a nightmare in the D.C. building. The purchaser felt strongly about a flooring deficiency – for which the developer absolutely refused to accept responsibility. It almost ended up with the buyer refusing to go to settlement – which would have undoubtedly led to legal action, which isn’t good for anyone.

In the Bethesda building, during the final walk thru (again with the third party warranty rep), an upstairs unit had plumbing problems that caused flooding in the apartment that was being inspected. Despite this last minute catastrophe, the buyer felt comfortable going to settlement (with the new damage being added to his punch list) in great part because of the way both walk-thrus had been handled.

Kudos to you, developers of The Adagio. You appear to be a class act, and it’s much appreciated.

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