For years now I have been seeing outright lies in the advertisements and on the websites of some of these “homesite communities” in the Greenbrier Valley (i.e., Greenbrier County and Monroe County, West Virginia). I was reading through the latest issue of the State Journal this morning, and saw an advertisement for a “premiere homesite community” in southern Greenbrier County, and I immediately rolled my eyes and wondered if these developers actually get away with this stuff.
At the top of the advertisement is says “sophisticated.” I drive by this place all the time, and I am left wondering what is so sophisticated about this development. The roads are not even paved. It’s just a big hilly, rocky, field, and there is not one house built there that I can see. They have a couple of pictures on the ad – one is of a “sophisticated-looking” yuppie-type couple holding glasses of wine and smiling at each other. Is this the same couple featured in all developer’s ads? I think I have seen the same couple on billboards for matchbox developments all across the eastern seabord. Another photo shows a guy playing golf on a course that is obviously nowhere near this development. There is not a golf course with terrain that flat within 100 miles of there, and there obviously is no golf course on that property. But just looking at this ad, you would think there is a golf course. That would be sophisticated, right?
Lastly, there is a photo of a beautiful [huge] rustic home. In reality, however, this home is probably nowhere near this development, but most likely is just a stock photo from the builder who has contracted to be the exclusive builder for the property. It’s possible it could be there, but I don’t think so. You sure can’t see anything from the road, and there doesn’t yet appear to be any construction whatsoever in the development except for the entrance and the gravel roads.
Looking at the ad, you get the impression that you would be joining some exclusive club with a great neighborhood and amenities if you buy property in this development. In reality, it is just a big empty space with gravel and dirt roads. Only a year or two ago it was cattle pasture – and full of rather non-sophisticated “cow patties.” You could walk around out there all day long, and you wouldn’t see any yuppies playing golf or drinking wine. You wouldn’t see any beautiful rustic vacation homes.
And yes, there is more. The ad says at the bottom that the “premiere . . . homesite community” is “nestled between Lewisburg and Ronceverte in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.” That ladies and gentlemen, is an outright lie. The development is far on the other side of Ronceverte, almost to the Monroe County line. It is not between Ronceverte and Lewisburg. In other words, if you were to fly from the development towards Ronceverte, as the crow flies, you would pass over Ronceverte, and then you would pass over Fairlea – where the State Fair of West Virginia is held – and then you would finally come to Lewisburg. Thus, it absolutely is not “nestled” between the two. In my estimation, it is at least a 15 minute drive from there to Lewisburg. Why would they lie about this?
Local developers are notorious for lying about their proximity to Lewisburg, because Lewisburg is the town with all the shops, restaurants and the amenities. They want you to think that this development is practically right in Lewisburg, when in truth it is not.
I know the housing market is in the pits right now, but even when it was doing great, these guys were doing the same sorts of things. The funny thing is, that despite all of this false and misleading advertising, if you actually take a look at any of these places, you will see maybe one or two houses in the entire development, if any – and that goes for about all of them, with the exception of the Greenbrier Sporting Club.
Hopefully people are doing their homework before they make any deals with these places. If the advertisements are lies and misrepresentations, you can only wonder about what they tell you when you meet them in person. Buyer beware….
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.