The rumors of Buena Vista Custom Homes’ death has been greatly exaggerated.

Last week, the Portland Business Journal reported that the company, which hit the top spot on BUILDER’s September 2005 Fast Track list of fast-growing builders, had been “dissolved” after failing to renew its corporate registration papers. The story also noted that the company’s contractor license had not been renewed.

It turns out there is more to the story.

According to Mike Higgins, a spokesman for Buena Vista, the corporate registration did lapse, but was “filed immediately” once the builder learned of the situation. “It happens,” said Higgins. “We are back in good standing.”

Higgins likened the paperwork to the domain name for a Web site and said the renewal simply was overlooked.

We’re (Buena Vista Custom Homes) still a functioning company and when the market warrants
you will see us again. Right now the time is not right, and it may be a while before we see a good
time. Meanwhile, we will remain focused on paying our bills,” Roger Pollack, Buena Vista’s owner, said in a press release clarifying the registration situation.

Higgins also said that the company has decided not to renew the contractor license at the moment, given the continuing weakness in the new-home market. “Roger’s feeling is that it could be quite some time before that makes sense again,” Higgins said. “Some homes are selling, but the margins are pretty slim.”

Like many builders, Buena Vista has suffered in the downturn.  More than a year ago, it auctioned its entire standing inventory to generate cash and free itself of the carrying costs for specs built for prices higher than a slumping market could bear.

The move helped, but not enough. The auction brought more than $10 million for 36 homes and 14 lots, but according to the builder, 200 homes and $150 million in debt still remained. This spring, it closed its office.

But the company is making progress on its debt, which has been reduced to $200,000, and its inventory, which now consists of just three homes. “I have worked hard to develop a partnership with the subcontractors that built our homes, and I felt that Chapter 11 (bankruptcy) was not an option. I did not want a situation where our vendors were not going to get paid,” Pollack said.

Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR.