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Assets recovered in homebuilder bankruptcy

There may be a chance for creditors to recover money owed to them by a prominent Tri-City homebuilder who filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, citing $9.2 million in debts.

The trustee handling the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case for Marco Solferino recently filed court paperwork stating “assets have been recovered by the trustee” and requested creditors file proof of claims in the case by Sept. 11.

Marco Solferino

For Greg Ford, who is listed on the initial bankruptcy documents as being owed $82,000 for unpaid services performed by Brashear Electric of Richland, the recovery of some assets gives him hope of getting his money back.

“I knew he’d recover assets because there’s no way he’d have that much income coming in with no way of it going anywhere. It doesn’t just vanish; it has to go somewhere. I wasn’t surprised at all,” Ford said.

The notice does not specify a dollar amount for the recovered assets and trustee John Munding said he could not elaborate.

“As Chapter 7 trustee, I am still investigating assets, including prior transfers of real property. Because of my ongoing investigation, I cannot comment at this time,” he said.

When Solferino first filed for bankruptcy, creditors were instructed not to bother filing a proof of claim due to the expectation that no money would be recovered to reimburse those who were owed.

The notice on recovery of assets was sent to nearly 100 creditors, mostly in the Tri-City area and to those involved in the home construction industry.

The list also includes a number of private citizens who were in the midst of building custom homes with Solferino when his business went under and they lost their investment. Many had handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars and were left with unfinished homes, but none have spoken publicly about their experience.

Solferino filed for bankruptcy this spring, weeks after shuttering his business M | S Homes Inc., which had also previously been known as Solferino Homes and Storybook Homes by Solferino Construction.

The builder was well known and sought out to build Mediterranean-style homes and had been featured in a number of Parade of Homes showcases over the years.

Washington state suspended Solferino’s contractor’s license in March 2019 following a complaint against his bond.

Solferino and his bankruptcy attorney Bill Hames did not return requests for comment.

In his initial bankruptcy filing, Solferino listed dozens of unsecured creditors, owed about $7.3 million. The filing also included personal assets, including no cash, $1.1 million in property, $10,500 for the value of vehicles, and $500 in office equipment.

Solferino’s personal home in West Richland is valued at just under $600,000 by the Benton County Assessor, though online real estate estimates place the value at double that.

The Tri-City Herald reported Solferino admitted under oath that he had spent $1.2 million in customer deposits but did not specify how the money was spent.

There are two outstanding lawsuits against Solferino, including a $62,238 complaint for unpaid supplies by ProBuild Co., which does business as Builders FirstSource Inc. A separate lawsuit also was filed by Standard Paint and Flooring seeking $54,455, also for unpaid supplies.

There have been two court dates so far to give creditors an opportunity to speak. Solferino filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 1997.

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