Does Chad Dreier (COB of The Ryland Group, Inc on 5/29/09 - Bill Jews in Feb., 2010) or Larry Nicholson (CEO) know of the Ryland Homes' customer relations and business ethics problem in South Carolina that could happen again to future Ryland Homes customers without corrective measures? I sent a certified letter to Mr. Dreier signed for on 7/6/09. Will they turn a poor "home readiness" (over 100 documented problems - some serious) and "unenjoyable customer experience" (13 months to fix) negative into a positive for Ryland? Or, will maximizing short term profits in this down economy take precedent over the Ryland Homes website claim that their "..constant aim is to deliver....an enjoyable customer experience with every home we build." (3/21/12 - Ryland doesn't say this anymore.) I never got a response from Mr. Dreier, his representative, or Larry Nicholson - Here is one possible reason why? Here is our real life story told honestly, to the best of my knowledge and with detailed documentation, under my First Amendment rights of Free Speech:
My wife successfully beat breast cancer with a mastectomy. We wanted to celebrate by moving from Texas to Murrells Inlet, SC near the ocean, and desired to have as little stress as possible ("doctor's orders") besides the sale of our TX home and the 1200 mile move, so as to try to prevent a recurrence of cancer with my wife's remaining breast. We put a deposit down in early 2007, but did not want to close escrow on the house until 1/08 to give ourselves time to sell our Texas home (Ryland's contract signed on 4/22/07, Pre-Start Meeting 9/11/07, first estimated completion date = 12/15/07, Actual "Close of Escrow" delayed by Ryland = 1/18/08, Move In date = 2/3/08). As if the stress of selling our former home in a "down market", and moving 1,200 miles isn't enough, over a year's time, we had over 100 documented problems with some serious like an inside our office wall leak with minor mold (one week of inconvenience to get fixed), and warped exterior siding on both sides caused by structural "back braces" missing on the inside that took from 1/18/08 to 10/30/08 to get fixed (see photo of one side's exterior being fixed above).
All this occurred during our first year (13 mo.) warranty even though some of my neighbors say they only had about 25 problems with their Ryland home. It was due to a series of circumstances that, I believe, Ryland Homes and all builders can avoid if they had more quality controls during construction like "What gets watched, gets done right!". They also need to detail and inspect a new house much better than they do now before they take their customer's money at close of escrow. See: "New Home Builders Deliver 'Cleaner Upper' Homes". Our new house was also a "Fixer Upper" with too much of our time needed to find and fix all the problems. Just setting appointments for all the subcontractors who, some of which, didn't show or were very late was aggravating, stressful and a lot of time and trouble. We adjusted our schedule to the sub's throughout that first year, so that the growing list of things would get fixed ASAP. Some subcontractors were coming from over an hour drive away, and that limited how often they'd make the drive to help control their costs!
If that wasn't bad enough, many times, I had to get in my car and chase down my first on site builder as a last resort, who did not return my phone calls or emails about 95% of the time. That went on for about 9 months until our second, more organized, builder arrived. The "buck begins & stops" for the first on site builder's behavior with the Ryland Homes Charleston Division management, IMO (See: "Corporate Assigned Power vs. Responsibility"). So, I lost almost a year's worth of my time in dealing with and documenting all that, when I really wanted to get a consultant business started.
Then to "add insult to injury", and after being ignored for quite some time in my effort to help make sure that the stress that happened to my breast cancer survivor wife and I doesn't happen to anyone else, the Ryland Homes Charleston, SC management responded to my 3/16/09 Better Business Bureau complaint about my almost one year of lost time by saying: "Ryland has received this complaint and appreciates the recommendations offered by our customer. Since these are recommendations and not actual problems concerning the home purchase or construction of the home no further action will be taken with regard to this complaint." I take that to mean that Ryland Homes believes that what happened to my wife and I was "normal", and that all homebuyers should expect that 100 plus problems can happen during their first year warranty! A BBB manager said to me on the phone that too many companies of all kinds (after their lawyers draw up their legal documents) follow "the letter of the law" vs. "the spirit of the law".
(8/10/10 BBB COMMENT) = In June, 2009 the Better Business Bureau of Central SC and Charleston increased its rating of Ryland Homes in Charleston, SC from about a "C+" to an "A+" right around the time that Ryland's Charleston Divisional management paid a fee to become a "BBB Accredited business"(notice disclaimer)! I was told by that SC BBB that it was due to that divisional portion of "Ryland Homes" (interesting that the BBB's web address for Ryland's Charleston Division still shows "in daniel island sc", while the BBB listing title does not?) now being recorded as having 50 employees, a larger #, as told to them by Ryland who has their Corporate HQ's in Calabasas, Ca. The BBB never would confirm to me that they verified the higher 50 employee number for Charleston, SC alone! This meant to the BBB that there were now fewer consumer complaints per number of employees. The reasoning for the increase to "A+", they said, is that the bigger the company, the more complaints it's understandably going to get, but shouldn't be penalized for. I don't think that Ryland's Charleston Division had anywhere near 50 employees in 6/09, if you don't count independent contractor laborers. Also, I just read the 7/31/10 "Better Business Bureau Credibility Fading Fast" which to me explains the current "A+" rating. 11/22/10 UPDATE = "'Pay For Play' Scandal Engulfs BBB" - "...(BBB) has agreed to stop awarding rating points to businesses that pay dues to the organization."
Ryland's Charleston, SC management may not think they need my customer and professional recommendations, but the facts, and "time line to fix" details, that are in their own records say otherwise. I also detailed them in "My Ryland Homes Initial Repairs 'Punch List'", and "My Ryland Homes Follow Up 'Warranty Service Requests'". How Ryland's Charleston Divisional management can say there were "..not actual problems concerning the...construction of the home.." is beyond me! Maybe they saved money by spreading my first builder way too thin ("20 something" homes at the same time), while contracting out to probable "low cost sub's" who, IMO, were far less than professional in many cases? I know they saved money by having me be their unpaid "Quality Control Person"! We wish Ryland Homes believed that inherent in the purchase of a new home is the right of any customer to expect to appreciate, and then actually enjoy their new home during their first year in it. In our opinion, this is a Ryland Homes potential problem which could stir more online Ryland Homes complaints and negative reviews in the future.
In fact, all tract home builders could now have the perspective that by having 13 months to fix whatever number of problems, complaints, and grievances (valid or invalid) the new home customer has after close of escrow, the pressure and additional cost it takes to deliver a new home as problem free as possible ("home readiness") is taken away. Also, I believe the tract home building industry is now set up more to financially reward "cost savings" by their employees, than it is to reward both "cost savings" and "customer satisfaction levels" equally. The current down economy has made things even worse for both buyer and seller! This "short term thinking" could backfire on the tract home building industry as buyer Internet usage increases for research on perspective builders. One upset new home buyer said in a comment to me on another Ryland Homes blog post of mine: "Once we move out is when I will write reviews on our builder."
I believe that many national tract home builders save money by not caring, so much, about the "attention to detail" of how well a house gets put together initially. By that I mean that the builder delegates/communicates, sometimes ineffectively, the responsibility of doing the actual work to subcontractors who need to be watched more closely and followed up on. Builders, also, sometimes hire the lowest cost sub's, and then make them fix the problems that they create, with little, or no additional, direct extra dollar expense to the national tract home builder.
Some new home warranty problems are to be expected (maybe even up to 25 of them in the first year), but over 100 problems is not acceptable to me, and should not be to the building industry, in my opinion. Certainly, no new tract home buyer expects to have to get in their car to find their tract's builder, who appeared to me to be "hiding" at times, while always having the excuse of being overloaded with work. I'm sure the National Association of Home Builders agrees, since it has a National Housing Quality (NHQ) Certification that Ryland Homes and all home builders should adhere to. The stated benefits to builders are: "Reduced warranty calls, Shorter cycle times, Increased customer satisfaction, and Improved profitability". That certification is definitely better than just saying "Close on your house and your builder disappears. Unless of course, your builder is Ryland Homes." like in this proposed Ryland print ad from Rodney Rogers (Creative Director & Copywriter).
Also, what would have helped is the Ryland Homes Division manager in Charleston accepting my offer, and coming up to meet with me in person near his Creekhaven tract to discuss how and why things went so bad for my breast cancer survivor wife and I. This would have showed genuine concern on his part, but I never got an answer to my emailed offer on 3/30/09. What would not help anyone, in my opinion, was the 3/24/09 Ryland Charleston Division offer to have a three way conference call between them, myself, and Joe Sabella, the Regional VP of Operations who works for Keith Bass (President of the South Region of Ryland Homes since 2008). The Ryland Charleston Division had not yet answered my 3/16/09 BBB complaint, and I strongly felt that I was only going to get "facile corporate words", as it says in the Cluetrain Manifesto, along with the "..no further action will be taken with regard to this complaint." that I later got from them in their 3/30/09 response to my BBB complaint. While I may not have a legal claim, I feel I have a legitimate ethical claim with Ryland Homes in wasting so much of our valuable time while stressing us over 13 months.
As a Ryland Homes "customer/partner" now who has forgiven Ryland, I'm also concerned about Ryland keeping a good reputation, because the quicker they sell all of the lots/homes in the "now on sale" final phase of my tract the more my property value will go up from its current depressed value. Improved quality controls of all kinds could help avoid much of the negative word of mouth about Ryland that is on the Internet (DISCLAIMER - I have not verified the total truthfulness of the following complaints about Ryland or other builders). Negatives like Fecamacho of Orlando Florida's 4/21/08 posting on Ripp-Off Report.com saying Ryland used high pressure sales tactics, and that he "..found problem after problem during the building process..". Negatives like "Amomymos" of Indianapolis, Indiana's 8/26/08 posting on Rip-Off Report.com saying there were so many problems with their new Ryland home that "we are contacting a Lawyer to see what our right are to have them buy our home back!!!" "Amomymos" may succeed, since here is a 7/11/09 Dallas Morning News online article regarding a poorly built Ryland house. Ryland Homes did buy the house back after attorneys got involved. Keep in mind, many other builders/developers are complained about on ConsumerAffairs.com, so it's not just Ryland.
Our house, over 13 months, had all things fixed except for an "undiscovered from the start" plumbing problem that we paid about $70 for after the first 13 months was up. Even though it was a slow and hidden "not seated properly" toilet leak, Ryland said that they have to cut off fixing problems at some point in time. True, but it seemed "cold" to us after all that we'd been through. To be fair to Ryland Homes, here are some of the unique factors( but not excuses) affecting our negative customer experience, as I see them:
1. My house was left to near last in 2007 at my request, as a Ryland manager agreed to put off the start of my house for about 5 months, so my first local builder was overwhelmed with many other homes (and homeowners) that started before mine, 2. That same builder who, I believe, got a raw deal, needed better organizational skills IMO, and needed to be trained better to eventually return customer emails and phone calls no matter how busy he got, 3. IMO, local tract builders don't have enough power to quickly replace poorly performing sub's on their own, 4. All the homes in my tract were newly designed homes that Ryland had never built before.
These things, and others, spur me on to make many constructive suggestions. The biggest one is that all tract home builder upper management should give the local, on-site builders more power to be able to terminate subcontractors who continually cause follow up problems for the customers and the local builders. It wastes everyone's time. Replace those ASAP with new, more "quality from the start" sub's that are located in the nearest local market vs. further away. The short term "cheapest" subcontractor may wind up "costing" more in the long term when it come to "word of mouth" advertising. I have a friend in NY that will now, never buy a new tract home when he's ready to move down here. He's telling others. Some other suggestions are in:"Ryland Homes Sales Policies (Problems & Kudos)" = Better disclosure of "upgrades" in model homes. "Ryland's Verbal vs. Written Sales Incentives" = Better disclosure of incentive details in writing. "Ryland Homes Air Filter Constructive Suggestion" = After construction, change clogged air filter with a new and better one.
I gave my not so good "customer satisfaction" feedback to Ryland through their survey company, Eliant who they started using after being with J.D. Powers who gave Ryland's Charleston Division an "About average" rating in 2008 for 5 of 10 categories. I heard nothing back except that "three way conference call" offer I described above that I would have preferred be a "three way email". I find it interesting that Bob Mirman, founder and CEO of Eliant, was quoted in this 4/06 BuilderOnline article entitled "Service Magic - You can't pull great customer service out of a hat—it requires constant diligence". He said: "..it makes no sense to promise a defect-free home. Especially when you consider that even consumers who purchased homes from the top 20 ranked builders in the J.D. Power survey still had, on average, 10 problems per home. You are better off making promises that you can keep, such as a realistic closing date, how long it will take you to respond to warranty requests, or that you will repair every item listed on presettlement walk-throughs. Keep in mind that the second most important factor in the weighting that J.D. Power uses to compute scores is home readiness." "Home readiness" does not mean having about 60 things wrong on my initial "Punch List", and my expectations would have been met if I got some things fixed quicker, and I only had about 25 things wrong during the first year warranty instead of over 100!
While I have Christian forgiveness for Ryland Homes, here are my three, mostly unselfish, requests that I hope will result in a "Win - Win - Win" (Ryland Wins with more & happier customers - My Community Wins with fountains - My Wife and I Win by helping others):
1. Preferably, a face to face meeting with Chad Dreier (COB of The Ryland Group, Inc.), as I want to humbly suggest to Mr. Dreier my many improvements for customer service and customer relations that may affect Ryland's "cost to build" budget in the short run, but more than make up for that in the long run with increased sales based on good "word of mouth" online and offline advertising. Chad Dreier is on record as saying he wants Ryland to be more "Customer friendly", but he probably doesn't know what is going on "where the rubber meets the road" in every local Ryland development.
2. I believe that Ryland would sell more homes in the Creekhaven development if there were fountains in every pond. In fact, word has it around the tract, that prospects are now going away saying that all other tracts in the Prince Creek Development have fountains except for Ryland. So, I am requesting that Ryland buy and install in a minimum of 5 fountains (one for each pond) which would cost about $10,000, in total, according to a quote my neighbor got.
3. I am requesting that Ryland give my professional "Punch List person" neighbor, Mike Sipio, full time benefits even though he only works part time. He works, right now, for Ryland Homes without benefits, and was our ultimate "diffuser #1" (peacemaker), when so many things were going wrong. We would have gone "nuts" without him. If possible, put full time/employed people like him in every small tract, who live in the tract and are neighbors instead of just an independent contractor working part time. A neighbor is more conveniently located and feels more long term "accountable" than any sub, and usually more friendly."
1/13/09 UPDATE: On 1/12/09, I had Father Andrew of St. Michael's Catholic Church do and "Exorcism" (NO, JUST KIDDING - Big Smiley Face!) on my almost one year old new Ryland Homes house. In fact, what he did do is called the "Blessing of the Home". My wife and I now feel much better about our new home, as maybe there were "evil spirits" that caused the over 100 things wrong with our Ryland Homes new house. All kidding aside, "It can't hurt!" as they say to have "Christus Mansionem Benedicat (Christ bless this house)."
1/13/09 UPDATE = I have NOT HEARD BACK yet from any of these managers regarding my humble requests. I will keep updating this last Ryland Homes blog post until I do hear back with a "yes", "no", "maybe" to all or part of my requests.
1/16/09 UPDATE = I am still being ignored as to my requests. But, I recently sent an email to all of the managers asking that they tell me when my 1 year Warranty started and will end. In getting back a response from one of them, another one of them sent me, by mistake, I'm sure, a copy of an email that I don't think I was supposed to see. It said something to the effect that the Divisional Mgr. "advised" that only one manager under him respond to me, because of my "tone" in my "communications". I am at a loss as to what that exactly means?
= I am thankful that I did not have some of the extreme problems with my builder that others did as noted in the link below. Mine was mainly about poor home readiness due to an emphasis on maximizing profits in this down economy. Here is an interesting 8/11/09 article from SmartMoney.com entitled "10 Things Home Builders Won't Tell You".
11/14/09 UPDATE = It is my opinion that President Obama believes that all CEO's should be compensated on long term thinking vs. short which should help all CEO's and COB's to be more concerned about true customer satisfaction when legitimate customer concerns happen. I don't know for sure if this latest Florida Ryland incident is a "legitimate customer concern" or not, but it sure sounds legitimate = "Ryland Homes Jacksonville, Florida Will not repair a pre-existing issue-master shower Saint Johns, Florida" Ryland's new CEO, Larry Nicholson, continues to say on the Ryland Homes website: "Since 1967, our constant aim is to deliver quality, value and an enjoyable customer experience with every home we build." Is this really true for all customers?
12/18/09 UPDATE = I never got a response from Chad Drier or Larry Nicholson to my 7/6/09 Certified Letter. Maybe this MSN Money article ( "CEOs earn big bonuses for bad year" ) explains why:
"Ryland lost $9.33 a share, compared to a loss of $7.92 the year before. Gross profit margins slipped to 11.6% from 17%. Ryland's stock fell 34%. The company shed 723 employees, 36% of its work force.
Ryland chief R. Chad Dreier, though, didn't take a loss. His annual bonus leapt from zero in 2007 to $2.5 million in 2008 as part of a $10.9 million pay package. He gained $6 million more from stock options.
How did Dreier earn this largesse? Simple: The board moved the goal posts. In 2007, bonuses were linked to pretax income. No bonuses were earned on that basis.
So in 2008, the board tied bonus pay to changes in net cash flow from Ryland's operating business. Voilà! Ryland met the target, in part because so many jobs were cut.
The switcheroo came just in time for Dreier to cash in. He is leaving the CEO job in May (2009)."
2/7/10 UPDATE = Well, after that last update that brings into question the reason why I still have not heard back from Mr. Dreier or his representative, I found a new way to communicate with him that I do not want to disclose here. It might cause others to try the same thing, and since I'm not sure why he never responded, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and not cause a problem for him. Here is a part of that certified letter, and what I just sent him:
"I still have hope that you believe in Christian ethics for all aspects of your business life, and not just in accounting. I am the person who sent you a "constructive input" certified letter, signed for on 7/6/09, in the hopes that you yourself would eventually read it rather than only your secretary. I don't know why you, or a representative for you, didn't respond to it, but here are two main paragraphs from it, in case you never read it:
"As a "Baby Boomer" like yourself, who also graduated from a Catholic college (St. Johns University) around 1968-9, I want to believe that if you knew about a "customer relations" and "business ethics" challenge in the Ryland Homes Charleston Division, you would address it personally, so it could never happen again. On the Ryland Homes website you, and now Larry Nicholson, say: "Since 1967, our constant aim is to deliver quality, value and an enjoyable customer experience with every home we build." My breast cancer survivor wife and I are now happy with our Ryland home after the first 13 months have passed, but we had anything but "an enjoyable customer experience" during that long, initial time (Contract signed on 4/22/07, Pre-Start Meeting 9/11/07, first estimated completion date = 12/15/07, Actual "Close of Escrow" delayed by Ryland = 1/18/08, Move In date = 2/3/08). While we have Christian forgiveness for Ryland Homes, we want to try to make sure that our negative experience is never repeated."
"In my blog post: www.brokerblogger.com are the details of our experience. I state what I am requesting and how those things can change a "negative into a positive” for everyone. Please take the time to read it for Ryland's sake, as I know you want "home readiness" to be a priority. Also, please don't consider me as "one of those" that "no matter what you do for them, they are never pleased". I've bought tract homes before from Warmington and William Lyon in Ca., and my Ryland Homes expectations were for our on-site builder to take/return our phone calls, and to have up to 25 things wrong with none as serious as some we had at Ryland's Creekhaven development."
2/17/10 UPDATE = I don't think I'm ever going to hear back from Chad Dreier or his representative. It is my opinion that in this depressed housing market, cost cutting is king, and customer satisfaction could take a big hit with all home builders. BuilderOnline.com's 3/17/09 "Revealed: The Top 10 Builders for 2008" (based on "closings" - mine closed in 2008) says: "The depressed sales environment forced the top 10 builders to play some serious defense. They retreated from marginal markets; sold off land at discounts; continued personnel reductions; cut expenses; and struggled to regain profitability."
While it will be interesting to see where Ryland winds up for 2009, they were 8th in 2008. That article says about Ryland Homes: "The company opened its competitive bidding process to multiple trades at each community stage. It eliminated turnkey suppliers in favor of buying all materials itself." Lowest bidder contractors, and direct, cost cutting purchasing of all materials may not translate to a happier customer. It may even conflict with any builder's "..constant aim is to deliver....an enjoyable customer experience with every home we build." Is it possible that extreme "cost cutting" on the part of all tract home builders (short term thinking that possibly could affect initial "home readiness" and overall customer satisfaction) could affect the "long term thinking" of prospective new home buyers for many years to come, even after the tract home market improves?
2/22/10 UPDATE = A current employee of Ryland Homes, who will remain anonymous, once verbally implied to me that CEO's are only doing what the stockholders want when they "cost cut" to improve the bottom line, which in turn helps stock prices and dividends in the short run. IMO, blaming stockholders is a "half truth", because if CEO's go to extremes in cost cutting, like I believe the U.S. Automobile Industry used to do, then they run the risk that General Motors did when "Quality" was no longer "Job 1". Toyota may be facing that same risk right now!
All CEO's need to be incentivized to think long term much more than short term. Otherwise, hugh, disproportionate CEO bonuses can occur when sales are down, while most stockholders usually lose money. Even when poor sales are not the CEO's direct fault, some sort of "straight commission" incentive needs to replace most current CEO bonus guidelines! CEO's and COB's need to realize that they can't have it both ways: Quality and excessive cost cutting, or, increased executive compensation and lower sales.. Otherwise, greedy pricing policies like "Whatever the market will bear" in good times will translate to a "bear market" attitude on the part of buyers at all times!
While new home prices are lower now, some buyers reading online reviews of builders may decide to buy only 1 to 5 year old "resale homes", and figure in the cost to fix it up the way they like. That way, with the help of a professional home inspector, they could know better what they are getting themselves into. Most "resale homes" have been lived in for one or more years. Home buyers can assume that all the "bugs" (warranty service issues, at least) have been worked out by then, if they have done their online research diligently, and their professional home inspector has done his inspections properly.
No matter what alternative to buying a new tract home the buyer comes up with, if there is an initial or otherwise "quality trust deficit" due to short term thinking sellers (CEO's), the U.S. home building industry will continue to suffer, and that will be bad for buyers, stockholders, subcontractors, new CEO's, and just about everybody including the U.S. A.. I believe the buck starts and stops with the CEO's and COB's. Maybe this economic crisis will bring more of them like the founders of Google who said in their IPO statement that they were going to do long term thinking things that the stockholders may not like (at first).
Here is my editorialized version of Google's "Investor Relations; Letter from the Founders" targeted at all National Home Builders = "Our goal is to develop services (production houses) that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible. In pursuing this goal, we may do things that we believe have a positive impact on the world (homeowners), even if the near term financial returns are not obvious." I love this = "If opportunities arise that might cause us to sacrifice short term results (homebuilder's profits) but are in the best long term interest of our shareholders (and especially our "end user" customers), we will take those opportunities. We will have the fortitude to do this. We would request that our shareholders take the long term view." Listen up all CEO's and COB's as this relates to SEC reporting requirements = "We would prefer not to be asked to make such predictions (homebuilder's earnings guidance in the traditional sense), and if asked we will respectfully decline. A management team distracted by a series of short term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour." I hope all homebuilder CEO's and COB's are listening and are acting upon this kind of long term, constructive thinking! Don't say it can't be done!
5/28/10 UPDATE = On 5/6/10 "Bailed out homebuilders collect fat paychecks" says: "But CEOs whose companies build homes make more money -- four to five times more -- than their counterparts who manufacture couches and washing machines, said Robin Ferracone, executive chair at compensation consultant Farient Advisors. She and others attribute homebuilders' outsized pay to a quirk of the industry: the involvement of founders and their sons in companies such as Horton, Toll Brothers, MDC Holdings, Lennar Corp and Hovnanian Enterprises." In a poor economy CEO bonuses may come from cost cutting more than good sales.
It goes on to say: "Ryland's Dreier got a $2.5 million bonus in 2008, when his total compensation was $8.1 million, virtually unchanged from 2007.", and "Ryland said the bonus was intended to motivate Dreier to ramp up its cash position. If profits proved elusive that year, the company would need to have funds on hand to make money once the industry recovered, said Ryland spokesman Eric Elder." I believe that my house was not delivered "home ready" with over 100 problems that took over a year to fix. This, in my opinion, was caused by "COST CUTTING = INCREASED CASH POSITION", so that the CEO could earn as big a bonus as possible for 2008's poor sales.
I also believe that some sort of risk management formula is probably used by upper management to weigh the benefit and extent of cost cutting vs. the risk of aggravating/stressing some of their customers, while wasting their time. Since Chad Drier knows as an accounting expert that "time is money", he protects Ryland Homes with their "1/13 of 1% of the purchase price" customer penalty for every day that Ryland agrees to extend the time of settlement. That certainly is one small way to increase Ryland's cash position, if they ever do agree to extend close of escrow, while pressuring the buyer to pay up ASAP!