T.H. Properties, a BUILDER 100 firm that had projected closing 350 homes in 2009, abruptly shut its doors yesterday, leaving buyers wondering about the status of pending settlements and deposits.

According to a message on its voice mail and a sign at its corporate headquarters in Harleysville, Pa., the builder “has temporarily suspended its operations and is actively exploring options to restructure its ongoing business operations.”

Founded in 1992, T.H. Properties is owned by two brothers, Timothy P. and W. Todd Hendricks. The company builds primarily in the Philadelphia metro area, with a product mix split between entry-level and first-time move-up homes. It employed 120 people as recently as February of this year, when it submitted its BUILDER 100 survey, but a newspaper article reported today that many employees were recently laid off. It was also sued earlier this year by lender Wachovia Bank.

The company’s reasons for the suspension will be familiar to anyone in the industry. “Like other home builders across the country, the recession and the collapse of the housing market has had a negative impact on the company’s operation. The company remains committed to an orderly restructuring of its obligations in order to continue with construction and development efforts throughout the region,” the voice mail message said. “T.H. Properties would like to thank its loyal vendors, valued employees, existing and prospective homeowners and the communities with which it has been operating during this difficult period.”

The situation may soon become even more difficult for T.H. Properties’ customers. According to the story in the Times Herald, some buyers learned the news yesterday when they showed up to close on their new home. Others were trying to learn whether or not they would get their deposits back.

The state of affairs seems particularly heartbreaking in light of the firm’s BUILDER 100 survey, where T.H. Properties listed reducing debt and lowering operating expenses as its top two accomplishments last year. The builder’s third major accomplishment in 2008? It “lived to fight another year.”

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

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Philadelphia, PA.