Can anybody help me?
I HAVE a passion for property, not just a real estate deal. For me, it’s a fascinating combination of homes and people.
What’s the history? Is it six months or 200 years old? How is the home used?
Then there are the challenges — do you extend or renovate, or not? Should the owners sell now? What if they’ve tried and failed? Why did someone buy a house another dismissed?
What makes one home appeal to virtually everyone, while others repel all passersby, even before they’ve stepped inside?
So you see in this media gig I do ask and get asked a lot of questions and receive requests for help. One now is not so much a request, but more a story to be told, with the writer only really seeking a chance to vent.
I’m not aware of every single detail in this story, but the general overview is pretty clear, so I’ll condense it for you.
The writer is not expecting an answer or follow up, as I wanted to ask for your input before I responded, but I would love to reply with some form of positive, proactive suggestion.
The story begins with a young couple buying a twobedroom townhouse and spending $20,000 improving it. Four years later, the local market was flat, but they were now a mum and dad to one, with another on the way and needed to sell.
They sold for close to the original purchase price, so the investment in improvements and any stamp duty was lost. Undeterred, they began looking for a bargain forever home, focusing on location and block size. It needed to have the right potential, be affordable and a place they could stay long term.
They eventually found the right home, a renovator that ticked all the boxes. They bought through a recognised real estate brand, used a licensed conveyancer and a lender that would have authorised a professional valuation of the property. So what could go wrong?
Initially nothing. In fact the lender let them have more money and, combined with the Bank of Mum and Dad, $170,000 of work was undertaken.
As the work neared completion, the houses at the back of the block were all demolished and a 9m high sound barrier fence appeared. Then, contractors arrived and
started building a major multi-lane road. I’ve not replied to these people yet as I want to see what interest I can generate first, but fair to say I’m surprised they hadn’t noticed.
Perhaps the houses at the rear were lived in right until the last minute?
Anyway, if this wasn’t bad enough, the house started to crumble around them, with the huge ground works going on to their rear. Then the battle starts. Valuation reports, engineer’s reports, lawyers, cracks revealing crumbling asbestos in the kids’ bedrooms. Suddenly their forever home was a nightmare.
I think we can all imagine the stress for a young couple and two small children when their home — their safe haven — becomes a legal battlefield.
All the investment on property No. 2 is now also being frittered away, not by market conditions but by someone, somebody or a system that has failed so very dismally to warn them before they committed to the home.
Main Roads acknowledged liability for the damage, but were not prepared to fix it, only to buy the home back at a figure that did not take into account their considerable renovation costs, or stamp duty at time of purchase.
To add to the tale of woe, the local market has bounced back suddenly leaving them priced out and with no way of buying anything comparable.
This is where the story gets really intriguing.
I’m told the former owners of the house were aware of the situation and provided the selling agent with all the relevant documents. One sale had already collapsed due to that disclosure, so why were our young couple never informed?
Why didn’t the conveyancer know about such a huge local scheme, or act when it was known the previous owner had informed the agent?
Why isn’t the agent accountable or the real estate institute doing something?
I’m not disclosing the relevant state, but I do want to hear from any industry body representatives or lawyers who might be interested in helping with some redress?
I’m pro real estate agents and I understand the term “buyer beware”, but this sounds like a massive error on his or her part and exactly what their professional indemnity insurance is designed for — to mitigate the considerable losses this young family has incurred. Any suggestions please email email@example.com.