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Lennar customer problems continue
Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Real estate agent tangles with home builder Lennar over allegedly inferior construction
Martin County real estate agent is taking on home building titan Lennar Corp. of Miami in a dispute that's getting uglier by the day. Mike Morgan of Stuart alleges inferior construction in Lennar's Martin's Crossing development. Morgan said a client hired a home inspector shortly before he was to close on a Lennar home, and the inspector found an improperly installed roof and other problems, Morgan said. Other Lennar homes in the project had similar shortcomings, he said. "This is all visible stuff that any inspector could see."


Real estate agent tangles with home builder Lennar over allegedly inferior construction
Paul Owers
On real estate

June 12, 2006

A Martin County real estate agent is taking on home building titan Lennar Corp. of Miami in a dispute that's getting uglier by the day.

Mike Morgan of Stuart alleges inferior construction in Lennar's Martin's Crossing development. Morgan said a client hired a home inspector shortly before he was to close on a Lennar home, and the inspector found an improperly installed roof and other problems, Morgan said.

Other Lennar homes in the project had similar shortcomings, he said. "This is all visible stuff that any inspector could see."

Morgan brought his complaints before the Martin County Commission last week.

Morgan said he has not inspected any Lennar homes in Palm Beach or Broward counties. He set up a Web site, www.defectivehomes.us., last week and said Lennar buyers from across the country have contacted him.

Lennar's general counsel, Mark Sustana, has a different take on the matter.

Sustana said the company will fix any problems, but independent inspections show nothing wrong with Lennar's homes in Martin's Crossing.

"We delivered 43,000 homes [nationwide] last year," Sustana said. "We do occasionally have a customer who is not satisfied. We make every effort to correct every customer problem."

Morgan has a personal agenda, Sustana said.

The agent made the allegations because he is upset by Lennar's decision to offer refunds to 125 home buyers in another development in Martin County, Sustana said. The builder agreed to the refunds not because of construction defects, but because some buyers complained Lennar failed to tell them of a planned bridge and park near their homes, Sustana said.

Morgan would lose commissions on sales if his clients accept the refunds, Sustana said.

Morgan insists that he is not motivated by money, saying he walked away from nearly $1 million in commissions for bringing the construction problems to light.

"I'm like Ralph Nader," he said.

Morgan, by the way, paid for advertising space with Google so that his new web site is listed at the top of any Lennar search.

"Please understand," Sustana wrote in a letter to Morgan last week, "Lennar will not allow you to damage our relationship with our home buyers or our business reputation with unfounded allegations of fraud and construction defects as you pursue what appears to us to be an attempt to extort from Lennar compensation to which you are not entitled."

The housing market might be soft, but the condo king presses on.

Developer Jorge Perez says there's plenty of activity surrounding ICON Las Olas, the 272-unit luxury condominium on the site of the old Hyde Park Market in Fort Lauderdale.

More than 60 percent of the units are reserved, Perez said. Formal contracts are due soon. The condos on the New River range from $500,000 to about $1.5 million.

"Do I wish the market was hotter than it is now? The answer is absolutely yes," said Perez, head of The Related Group of Miami. "But we are doing exceedingly well."

Construction is set to begin in early 2007, and the 42-story building should be ready for occupancy in 21/2 years, Perez said.

"We'll have over two years to sell the rest of the building," said Perez, whose company was just named the nation's largest multifamily developer by Builder magazine.

Fort Lauderdale city commissioners approved ICON Las Olas late last year, ending a six-year fight by proponents of the neighboring Stranahan House. They didn't want the condo next to the historic home.

Paul Owers can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 561-243-6529.

Copyright (c) 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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