Two Brisbane vendors have hit back at claims they were “greedy” for pocketing a young couple’s $75,000 home deposit, saying they did nothing wrong.
Two Brisbane house sellers have hit back at claims they were “greedy” by pocketing a young couple’s $75,000 home deposit while selling their property on to someone else for a tidy profit.
On Tuesday, news.com.au reported Mark Trau, 30, and Maddie Goyder, 27, lost $75,000 after their bank, Westpac, missed the settlement deadline of the Jindalee property they wanted to buy.
Mr Trau and Ms Goyder, who are engaged, made two pleas for an extension on the deadline, both of which were rejected.
This meant they had to forfeit their deposit, which Mr Trau said they had been saving up for since they were in high school.
The property then resold within hours of their deal falling through for $65,000 more than they had offered.
However, the vendors, an elderly couple who moved to Western Australia shortly after the successful sale, insisted to news.com.au they treated Mr Trau and Ms Goyder “fairly” and that they “did nothing wrong”.
“We have acted more than fairly to the couple at all times,” the sellers said in a statement to news.com.au.
“We gave instructions to our solicitors and at 12.15pm on 20 October they gave notice to the buyers’ solicitors that settlement was required that day and if it did not settle the deposit would be forfeited in accordance with the contract.”
Mr Trau and Ms Goyder offered $965,000 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the Brisbane suburb of Jindalee where they planned to start a family.
However, it didn’t look like Westpac would be ready for the settlement date of 5pm October 20.
Mr Trau began making “a number of frantic calls” and pleaded with the sellers, first for a seven-day extension and then a 24-hour extension.
His applications were knocked back.
“It wasn’t until the next day at 11am Westpac said they were ready for settlement,” Mr Trau recalled.
By then, it was too late.
In most other Australian states a two-week grace period is given if a settlement goes under, but not in Queensland.
The sellers took their full $75,000 deposit, leaving the younger couple homeless for several days, and sold to somebody else.
Hours after the settlement fell through, the house was marked as being sold on a real estate listing for $1,030,000 – $65,000 higher than the price from Mr Trau and Ms Goyder.
Combined with the $75,000 they pocketed from the deposit, the sellers emerged $140,000 richer.
The older couple also denied suggestions that they had been hoping for the contract to fall through so they could line up another sale at a higher price.
“We had no talks with a potential buyer,” they wrote.
“Other than being aware that there was strong interest in the property (45 groups through on its first open).
“Our lawyers made it clear settlement was to be on that day and as this failed to occur the contract defaulted.”
The sellers said they had “been very accommodating throughout the transaction”.
They had previously granted two exemptions to Mr Trau and Ms Goyder at the financial clause stage – which is where the property purchase only goes through provided they get approval for a bank loan.
The contract had to be renewed once because their financier approved the loan at 5.30pm but the contract had run out at 5pm.
But when the younger couple made two additional requests for a settlement extension, they were denied.
“There was no other contract when we made the decision not to extend,” the vendors wrote.
“This decision was based on legal advice and their repeated inability to meet deadlines which was a constant feature throughout this whole process.”
The vendors also said they didn’t stand to make a huge profit.
“We did not pocket $75,000 as has been reported because we were obligated to meet all sale costs including the agent’s commission despite the sale not proceeding,” they continued.
“We were facing having to duplicate all of these costs by returning the property to market.”
The sellers added that they “were devastated at this eleventh-hour request as were due to fly interstate the very next day and our beloved pet and all our worldly possessions had already been packed and sent. We had also intended to use this money to settle on a purchase interstate.”
The couple said they had retirement plans that were up in the air as a result. They now reside in Western Australia.
They said legal fees had also left them “out of pocket to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars”.
“We did nothing wrong,” they reiterated.
Professor William Duncan, an expert in property law at the Queensland University of Technology, said the case called to attention that Queensland’s property laws may need a major rethink.
“In a sense, it is sudden death in Queensland. The time of the settlement is critical in Queensland,” he said.
He said the 14-day grace period given in other states “saves this kind of this thing from happening. Little things can go wrong, which is not the fault of either party”.
In other states, it takes a little longer to settle, between six to eight weeks compared to four or five weeks in Queensland.
“The law in NSW (and other states) is probably a little better,” he said. “I see nothing wrong with a longer period. This has been talked about on and off for years.”
As for this particular scenario, Professor Duncan admitted he “can see both sides”.
“I feel sorry for the buyers but the sellers have not acted improperly,” he said. “House prices are rising so rapidly, I can’t blame the vendors in a sense because it wasn’t their fault.”
Mr Trau rejected that he and his fiancee had been treated “fairly’.
“The question is whether they think taking someone’s $75,000 is fair compensation for not even a 24 hour delay in settlement,” he said.
Westpac agreed to reimburse the young couple as they acknowledged they had made a manual processing error.
This week, Mr Trau and Ms Goyder were given $100,000 by the bank. The cost covered the deposit as well as their solicitor fees. The bank also factored in $5000 each for the stress and anxiety it caused them over the last few weeks.
A Westpac spokesperson said in a statement to news.com.au: “We apologise for the experience this couple had while trying to buy their home.
“We’ve done a review of this case and worked with our customers to quickly resolve the issue and put it right.
“While we are limited on what we can say due to privacy, we will continue to work with our customers to support them as they look to buy a home.”