Nolan Killeen pointed out the upper-floor two-bedroom suite he and his fiancee purchased.
“There it is,” he said.
He was standing on the recently-landscaped lawn outside the troubled Murrayville House project, a four-storey wood frame condo at 5020 221A St. in Langley.
He can’t get any closer than that, thanks to multiple legal battles that landed the project in court and have prevented Killeen and other purchasers from moving in.
Killeen had just discovered that his sales agreement is on a list of 91 purchases that are not considered “bona fide” by the court-appointed receiver now in charge.
“I was shocked,” Killeen said.
The report to the court by the Bowra Group Inc., filed on Nov. 16, says the receiver considers less than half of the sales agreements, 58, to be “bona fide” sales agreements because they were at fair market value.
The other 91 should be cancelled for a variety of reasons, the report states, including some units that were sold more than once, some that were sold at a discount, and some that were sold after the sales centre was closed.
The report says a number of the 92 units in the four-storey wood frame condo have been sold more than once.
“There are 149 (Purchase Sales Agreements) for the sale of 91 units,” states the report, which was filed Nov. 16 and has been posted on the Bowra website.
“A total of 31 units have been sold twice … 12 units have been sold three times; and … one unit had been sold four times.”
Killeen said he and his fiancee were actually the third buyer of their suite, and the deal was done after the sales office was closed. At the time, they had no idea any of that could be a problem.
“(We had) humongous reliance on the realtor,” Killeen said.
“It (the suite) was posted on the MLS as a unit for sale.”
If his contract is cancelled, Killeen will get his deposit back, but he says he won’t be able to make up the difference between what the suite cost when he bought it and what it would cost to replace in the current market.
He said the lost value could be as much as $100,000.
That is why he and his fiancee have bought a townhouse just across Fraser Highway from the Murrayville House project.
Because housing prices were continuing to rise while they waited for some kind of resolution, “we had to jump back into the market” Killeen said.
“It’s frustrating,” he said.
“You wonder, how does this happen. It just makes you question the entire system that governs real estate transactions in B.C.”
Mario Mainella, Bowra Group’s senior vice-president overseeing the Murrayville file, said the recommendation to cancel certain contracts won’t happen without input from the people holding the contracts.
“Everyone is going to have an opportunity to respond,” Mainella told The Times.
Asked whether any laws were broken when the suites were sold several times over, Mainella said it wasn’t an issue the receiver was required to consider, but it should not have happened, in his opinion.
“It’s wrong,” Mainella said.
“Whether you want to call it illegal (or not) it’s wrong.”
The builder of the complex owes at least $62 million to various creditors, more than double the estimated $29 million replacement cost of the building, according to the receiver’s report.
On Oct. 4, a B.C. Supreme Court ruling put the Bowra Group Inc. in charge of the Murrayville House condo complex, which has sat empty while creditors complain the company that owns it owes them millions of dollars that it has failed to pay.
Appointed under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA), Bowra is a Vancouver accounting firm with expertise in insolvency and restructuring, that has been named the receiver and manager “of the assets, undertakings and properties” of Murrayville House builder Mark Chandler, of Newmark, doing business as 0981478 B.C. Ltd.
The receiver said the company that built the condo is refusing to say what happened to about $12.2 million paid “by 68 parties for the full payment of the purchase price of a unit.”
The company, according to the receiver, has not provided “any accounting of these transactions or confirmation of as to how much, if any of the funds are held in a bank account.”
The receiver went to court last week and obtained an order requiring the builder to provide the banking information.
All but one of the pre-sale purchasers have told Bowra that they want to complete on the sale of the units, the report states.
Following its appointment, Bowra immediately changed the locks on the project and hired a security company to patrol the premises.
The report says the project is virtually complete, and finishing it would cost between $108,000 and $158,000 for things like cleaning the suites, fixing interior deficiencies, landscaping and parkade membrane repair.
CLARIFICATION: While a numbered company owned by Mark Chandler of Newmark is one of the respondents in the Murrayville House proceedings, Chandler is not personally liable for any claims by debtors.