Woman: Mobile home salesman 'pulled a fast one'
Posted August 22, 2008 5:11 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2008 6:34 p.m. EDT
Newton Grove, N.C. — A Sampson County woman said a mobile home salesman took her family for a ride, selling them a junk home and hauling off an old trailer filled with personal belongings.
Louise Hall said Robert Jarmen sold her mentally challenged son, Raleigh, a used mobile home sight unseen.
" We didn't even get to come in. They asked to let them come in, and he told them they have to wait until he gets through," Louise Hall said about her son and his wife, Myrtle, who also is mentally challenged.
The next thing the family knew, the used home was on her son's lot and the old trailer full of his and his wife's belongings was gone.
"All her pots and pans, dishes and clothes. All that's in there. We don't know where it went," Louise Hall said. "I asked (Jarmen), 'What about the other trailer?' and he didn't want to talk to me."
Jarmen told WRAL News that he didn't take the old mobile home and said he has no idea what happened to it.
Sampson County requires that old mobile homes be removed from lots within 30 to 60 days of hooking up new ones. But inspectors said it's the owner's responsibility to get it done and that the county doesn't remove mobile homes that are out of compliance.
Louise Hall said she planned to sell the old mobile home, but it was gone before she had the chance to do so.
According to Sampson County tax records, the used mobile home Raleigh Hall purchased for $27,000 is worth $10,000. The bedroom floor is soaked, the ceiling is falling in and the air conditioner doesn't work.
"I've been paying money and paying money for people to come out here and fix stuff, and they say they can't do anything," Louise Hall said. "(Jarmen) pulled a fast one. He pulled a fast one."
Jarmen said he was a loan officer for Tennessee-based 21st Mortgage, but the company said they never heard of him. The sales documents he signed list his company as JA Homes.
He said Raleigh and Myrtle Hall wanted to buy the used mobile home without looking it over, then said he recalled taking them to see the home at a lot in Durham and that they loved it.
The used mobile home passed a county inspection, Jarmen said, and no one complained to him about it until after the limited warranty had expired.
A Sampson County spokeswoman said state law requires the county to approve electrical, water and sewer hook-ups for mobile homes and not the condition of the homes themselves.
The state Attorney General's Office offers the following tips for people buying used mobile homes:
- Check references. Before you buy a manufactured home, ask other people about their experiences with that dealer. It is also a good idea to check out the company with the Attorney General’s Office or a local Better Business Bureau.
- Read the contract carefully. Before you sign a contract, make sure all promises you heard are written in the contract. Do not sign documents that are incomplete or have blanks. The paperwork should list the items you want included in your home. Be certain to specify colors, quality and other options. If the dealership guarantees that the home will be ready on a specific date, make certain that date is a part of the contract.
- Watch out for “Buy For” agreements. If a dealer asks you to find someone to co-sign for your home, make sure the home is being sold to you and not the co-signor. Your name should appear on all documents.
- Be informed about deposits. A deposit may be required in order to hold a particular home, but a deposit is not necessary for a dealer to run a credit check. A contract to purchase must be signed when you make a deposit.
- Keep all documents. Make sure you receive copies of all documents about buying your home.
- Know your right to cancel. After signing the contract, you have three business days to cancel your contract. The cancellation must be in writing and will allow you to get a full refund.
- Don’t pay until after inspection. Ask the finance company to withhold payment to the dealership until the home has passed its final county inspection. Otherwise, you may have to make payments on a home that you aren’t allowed to live in.
- Make a punch list. Within 30 days after you move in, make a punch list of items that need to be fixed and mail it to the dealership. You should send the list certified mail, return receipt requested and keep a copy for yourself. When the company comes to make repairs, be sure to sign a work order noting which repairs were completed and which items still need to be fixed.
If the company hasn't fixed the items on the punch list within 30 days, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NOSCAM or 919-716-6000 or the Manufactured Housing Board at 919-661-5880.