Flipper Victims Sue Developer: Should Others Be Worried?

Many remorseful Americans are finding their property values have plummeted, their neighborhoods have gone to the dogs, and their neighbors have defaulted right out of their houses. So whose fault is it anyway?

Jonathon and Brandy Miller, of Boynton Beach, Fla., think they have an answer. The couple sued the builder of their townhouse, Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., for selling multiple units in their development to home flippers.

Instead of the mini-utopia they were promised in the development called Firenze, the Millers say, they found it full of transients. Not homeless folks but real estate flippers who bought homes with the sole intent of selling them.

Now it's a ghost town instead of a neighborhood, where vandals have looted everything but the kitchen sink, and maybe even the kitchen sink, in some homes. "The exercise room was burglarized," reports the Wall Street Journal. "The clubhouse remains locked for fear of vandalism. Landscaping deteriorated."
Because Hovnanian allowed these flippers to purchase property there, the Millers want to be reimbursed for their purchase price and closing costs. It's a desire many housing-bubble homeowners share, but their case is worse, they say. They're claiming "emotional distress," and "loss of capacity for the enjoyment in life." If they can get that back via reimbursed closing costs, they should count themselves lucky.

We're not sure the lawsuit will make it very far. No one has control over who their neighbors are, nor the amount of crime in their area. And Hovnanian Enterprises might be responsible for some unattractive tract homes and several examples of suburban sprawl, but it's certainly not single-handedly responsible for the housing crisis and the turn of events that led to a Firenze made of flippers.

We're not sure that the Millers think it'll go far, either. They feel wronged, they said, but in the end "we finally just got fed up and had to take some sort of action to address it."
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