Conveyancing Consumer Alert: Art Deco Disappointment

Posted on June 20, 2011 by | 0 Comments

Tim O'Dwyer M.A., LL.B OPINION
by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Consumer Advocate

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Consumer Alert!This story does not end, as many do, in a court case.  But it begins, as many do, with a property advertised for sale:

“Charmingly preserved Art Deco features abound in this ground floor cavity brick apartment.  Ornate plaster ceilings and cornices, wide skirting boards and architraves, polished timber floors all lovingly presented.
Two bedrooms – one with access to the study, a large, light, eat-in kitchen and, typical of the era, a black and white bathroom with bathtub.  Lifestyle opportunity for those who appreciate this era and want to take advantage of a rare opportunity.
Easy access to local restaurants, a direct train to the City and a bus-stop at the door.
Four units on each of two levels, the majority owner-occupied, a body corporate with reasonable levies and very friendly to pussycats in the past.
No work to be done.  However  you could have some real  fun gathering together furnishings to enhance the style.
Call now for an appointment.  Act quickly as Art Deco units are sought after by connoisseurs.

When first home-buyer and single working-mum Cathy read this agent’s spiel, she did act quickly.  She arranged an inspection, loved what she saw and immediately made an offer.  Unfortunately someone else made a better offer, and Cathy missed out. 

Undeterred, Cathy wrote to the owners of the other units in this pre-World War II building which had been strata-titled some 25 years ago.  Explaining how she just adored Art Deco architecture, Cathy asked if any owner might consider selling.

The owner of the unit adjoining the one Cathy had inspected soon replied.  He was interested in selling.  The property was not listed with an agent so Cathy and the owner negotiated privately, reached an agreement then contacted their solicitors about preparing a formal contract.

Cathy’s solicitor made sure this was subject to finance and included protective building/pest and body corporate inspection conditions.

With the contract all signed up, Cathy applied for finance.  Her bank was happy with its valuation and approved a loan.  Cathy’s solicitor’s body corporate records inspection disclosed nothing untoward, although a sinking fund forecast indicated there would be increasing but manageable maintenance expenses over coming years.

Everything was looking good with the building/pest inspectors still to report.  Cathy was devastated when both the building and pest reports came in far from favourable.

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