'My Only Shot to Get the House I Wanted' : Camp-Out Worth It for Would-Be Home Buyer

For nearly six years, Kathi and Michael Peltz have lived in a 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom-and-a-den house in Encinitas. But, with a 21-month-old baby and plans for more progeny, they felt that a move to a bigger home was inevitable.

When the Alga Hills preview was announced, Kathi decided to go a day early. "I thought there would be a big demand, and, although I didn't know about professional campers, I thought there may be camping," she said.

Furthermore, if there was going to be a buyers' list, she wanted to be on it. "I didn't want to look back and say, I should have bought at Fieldstone. If I didn't get a house, I wanted to know that I did my best," she recalled.

That Friday, as Peltz hovered around the entrance to the model homes looking for Stacy Foster, the project's sales manager, she was repeatedly told to come back the next day. She didn't listen, and, in the middle of the afternoon, a security guard told her that several people had gathered at a remote part of the construction site set aside by Fieldstone for camping.

"I tried to stay calm," she said. She left the site to tell her landscape architect husband that she had decided to camp out.

He didn't like the idea, but a certain glint in her eye and determination in her voice warned him not to argue.

By the time the homemaker returned to Alga Hills, several lists had formed. "It was very emotional determining who was in line. Some people were not sure why they were not on the list. But Stacy Foster handled it very well," Peltz said. At one point Peltz was fifth in line. After the jockeying, she was 11th.

Peltz spent that night sleeping in the car with her brother, who volunteered to help out. She had not yet even seen the models.

When she did the next day, she got excited. The homes were what the family needed at a price they could afford. After a brief tour and a glance at the map of the development, Peltz submitted the lots she liked to Fieldstone. "As soon as I saw them, I knew I was camping," she said.

Mike Peltz borrowed a tent from a neighbor and, for the next week, Kathi and her young daughter, Michelle, spent the day at the Alga Hills campsite. Friends and neighbors would stop by, bringing food and playing with the baby. Her brother, a college student, relieved her at night.

It was a hard and emotional week. But, in the end, the camp-out paid off. Peltz got a five-bedroom, 2,325-square-foot-home.

Although happy, the selection was not her first choice. "Only a few people are really thrilled," she said, adding that she hoped that a better lot would be available after Fieldstone winnowed out investors.

Would Peltz camp out again for a new home? "If I thought it was my only shot to get the house I wanted, I would do it again," she said. "And, God willing, I would make it through it again."

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