Phoenix couple wants homebuilder to return $15K down payment

Last-minute kidney transplant derails home purchase
A Phoenix couple had to back out of a new home build because the husband received a kidney transplant, but the company won’t refund their $15,000 down payment.
Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 5:35 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A Phoenix couple was ready to build a place to retire down in Eloy. But a week after handing over a down payment, a major medical issue made the move impossible. Now, they just want their money back.

The Robson Ranch retirement community is sprouting up in the desert down in Eloy, about 60 miles south of Phoenix. And when Keith and Jo-Ann Gilless heard about it, they had to see it. “We went down to the property and I fell in love with it,” Jo-Ann said. “They have crafts. They have pickleball, events that they do there. It’s a whole community. Everybody’s friendly and nice.”

Robson Resort Communities is building the community, and after visiting the development, Keith and Jo-Ann returned the very next day to pay $15,300 as a down payment to build a home. But a week after handing over that down payment, the couple’s situation changed dramatically. “Eight days later we got a call from Mayo clinic hospital,” Jo-Ann said. “My husband was on the list for a transplant. A kidney transplant. And we got the call to show up and he’s in line to get a kidney.”

Keith had the transplant that day after being on a waiting list for three years. But there’s a long road to recovery, meaning Keith now has to visit the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale several times a week. Keith’s doctor even provided a letter saying Keith had to remain close by for treatment. Keith and Jo-Ann thought Robson Resort Communities would understand and return their deposit. They were wrong. “Our sales agent, she informed us that we would be losing our deposit,” Jo-Ann said.

Robson said it was keeping all $15,300, even though the company hasn’t done any work on the site. The lot is still just a patch of dirt. Jo-Ann and her husband say they can’t believe it. “Well, it’s a financial issue because we have a lot of medical bills,” she said. “And it’s an ethical issue that they haven’t even started construction and they’re keeping our money. And they don’t understand that we didn’t foresee this to happen.”

The contract with Robson clearly states that security deposits are nonrefundable. But considering the circumstances, the couple believed the home builder would understand. So, On Your Side got involved and we asked Robson to review the matter and to reconsider a refund. They replied back, saying they won’t comment and would not provide a written statement.

That means, at least for now, Robson is keeping the couple’s money. “It’s a beautiful home,” Jo-Ann said. “I’m very disappointed that we can’t move there. But, it’s what was told. We have to listen to doctor’s orders.” The home builder is now free to sell to someone else. According to their website, a similar home is now selling for about $14,000 more. The couple says that amount, along with their lost down payment, could mean a $29,000 profit courtesy of a kidney transplant recipient.