‘My stomach just dropped’: Family claims builder promised them home on land it doesn’t own

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A family says they paid a company thousands of dollars for land and to start building them a house, but they found out later the builder doesn’t own the land.

The Huynh family wanted a bigger home. They signed a contract with Constructing Up to build them a house on Shearer Road in Davidson.

“We’re not like super rich people or anything, but we’re just trying to do better for our kids,” Tracy Huynh said.

The Huynhs told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke that in February they put down $150,000 for the land and to start building. According to the contract, the builder was supposed to start construction “as soon as practicably possible.”

But the Huynhs said the company never broke ground. They complained so their real estate agent did some research.

“Come to find out that actually that land was not ever theirs to sell. It was somebody else’s,” Huynh said. “My stomach just dropped … we were in shock.”

Stoogenke checked property records and discovered that an LLC called Davidson’s Edge owned it. Stoogenke asked the LLC’s registered agent if the company is tied to Constructing Up and was told no.

He asked if the agent knew what was allegedly going on and was told no again.

The Huynhs filed a police report and are suing.

“This is shocking. This isn’t a contract dispute. This is taking someone’s money and then just completely not doing anything at all,” the family’s lawyer Adam Hocutt said.

The Huynhs said they confronted the man who runs Constructing Up in July. They got him to sign a paper agreeing to give their money back, but at the time of this report, Hocutt said the family still hasn’t been repaid.

“We moved here for a better life and now we’re struggling once again,” Huynh said.

Stoogenke got in touch with the man who runs Constructing Up. On Wednesday, he texted, “We are in negotiations and settlement right now. Any info we give or talk about could disrupt this final settlement. We hope to have this settled in the next 10 days.”

Stoogenke said no matter who is right or wrong here, it raises the question: how do you prevent someone from trying to sell you land he or she doesn’t own?

Stoogenke said this is the reason your closing attorney does a title search and you pay title insurance.

But if you’re worried about waiting until that point in the process, you can always do what Action 9 did. First, check property records and see who the listed owner is. Then get in touch with that person. If it’s a company like in this case, you may have to do what Action 9 did: check Secretary of State records to find a real person to talk to.

VIDEO: Action 9 helps homeowner get $3,700 from home warranty company