It's never a good sign when you call your home builder and get a recording that the company's temporarily shutting down operations.
T.H. Properties did just that on Tuesday and within 24 hours the Attorney General's office launched an investigation.
THP is the Harleysville company with all the ads plastered on Pa. Turnpike stalls at the Mid-County tolls.
Click on the gallery to the left and you'll see all the housing developments they have. They're one of the region's largest builders.
A recording on their main line, 1-800-CALLTHP, said Monday they'd "temporarily suspended operations" and were looking at options to restructure. The recording says THP is a victim of the economy and "collapse of the housing market" but committed to figuring out a solution. On Wednesday, THP's recording changed a bit to allow callers to leave messages. But with little to no communication from the home builder, frustration was building among home buyers who have huge chunks of money tied now up in unfinished homes or developments.
"No one had the decency to tell us anything," said Sean Simpson, who closed on his house Monday. He didn't know it at the time, but Sean now thinks he and his wife were inside the THP office right when workers were getting the news that the company was shutting down.
Sarina's father, a real estate broker, had some reservations from things he'd been hearing, according to Sean. So during the settlement, Sarina even asked, "What happens if THP isn't here tomorrow?"
Sean says the woman from the title company talked about different warranties they would have and they felt reassured enough to sign the papers. Now he's worried because the home isn't finished and Sean is afraid that if vendors don't get paid by THP, they could put a lien on his new home.
Some encouraging news did come from Upper Hanover Township, home to THP's Northgage development. The township's Solicitor was authorized to "protect the interests of the Township by issuing notice of default on the financial securities associated with the public improvements at the Northgate Subdivision as per the developer agreements," according to township manager Stanley Seitzinger, Jr. "We are pursuing all that in an orderly and diligent fashion. We are confident that we have in place the maximum allowable protection under law for the public improvements."
Seitzinger said the township was setting up meetings with homeowners to go over the current status of the development and to "keep lines of communication open."
T.H. Properties is run by two brothers Tim and Todd Hendricks, according to their Web site.
The A.G.'s office said the best thing consumers can do at the moment is file a formal complaint with the Attorney General's office, which will help Consumer Protection agents review each case.