On July 23, the Sheriff's Office of Wayne County, Ohio, is scheduled to auction off several parcels of real estate. One of those pieces up for bid is a 2-acre property in Shreve, Ohio, which currently has on it a dug-out basement and half of a 2,107-square-foot modular home.
It's been more than two years since Paul and Amy Deuble paid Commodore Homes, a modular-home supplier, $98,000 for what was going to be their slice of the American Dream. However, the owners of a nearby bed and breakfast called The Green Man got a restraining order to block the construction of that house. On March 17 of this year, a 2-1 decision by an appellate court in Ohio’'s Ninth district gave the Deubles the right to build that house. But the plaintiffs, David and Roberta Farrell, have petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court to hear their complaint. The court is expected to decide within the next two weeks.
American Home Mortgage foreclosed on the land in early 2007 after the Deubles couldn't keep up with the $630-per-month interest payments on their construction loan, which had to be extended for several months after they were restrained from building. "The construction loan was only supposed to last for two months," says Paul Deuble. Amy losing her $42,000-per-year job as a customer service agent at a local materials handling company also hampered their ability to service the loan.
The Deubles have asked their attorney to see if they can prevent the land sale, although such a remedy is a long shot. (As of this morning, neither the county nor the law firm representing the lender, American Home Mortgage, had received any notice of a legal action.)
The Deubles have claimed that the Farrells, as well as the Common Pleas court judge who ruled in their favor initially, are among those who tar modular and manufactured housing with the same brush. However, David Farrell, in an emailed response to BUILDER, disputes that characterization. He said that his legal action revolved solely around whether a deed restriction barred the house that the Deubles wanted to install. Farrell adds that he and his wife “came very close” to buying a modular home themselves for another location.
The Deubles are currently looking for a new place to live. And they haven't given up on building a house for themselves, either. ("We haven't even gotten to the damages phase" of their dispute with the Farrells, Paul points out.) Their Realtor, Nathan Glick—who had mistakenly told the Deubles after selling them the land that their deed prohibited manufacturing housing—has offered to purchase the land at auction and build a stick-built house on the site at cost. Paul thinks that would still be more than they could afford, but he's leaving the door open to buying land someplace else and trying again. Not surprisingly, however, their experience has altered the Deubles' perspective on homeownership. "I thought we won. But we could wind up losing everything," he says.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Cleveland, OH.