Following a court order placing the troubled Murrayville House condominium project in Langley Township under receivership, the provincial Superintendent of Real Estate regulatory agency has issued a “consumer alert” telling buyers of units in the 92-unit project to get professional advice from a lawyer and also a real estate broker as well as contact the superintendent’s office.
“Purchasers at Murrayville House should contact a lawyer to fully understand their legal rights and remedies with respect to their purchase agreements, claims by other purchasers, claims by lenders and other creditors, the treatment of deposit monies, the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, and any other relevant legal matters,” the notice, posted online, said.
“Purchasers should also consult any licensed real estate broker assisting with the purchase.”
Buyers “who have not already contacted the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate are invited to do so,” the statement added.
On Oct. 4, a B.C. Supreme Court ruling put the Bowra Group Inc. in charge of the troubled Murrayville House condo complex, which has sat empty for more than a year, with many purchasers scrambling to find temporary accommodations while creditors complained the company that owns it owes millions of dollars that it has failed to pay.
Foreclosure action has been taken by the lenders of Murrayville House, and there are liens against the property for unpaid trades.
Court documents filed with the B.C. Supreme Court registry in New Westminster allege debts in excess of $16 million.
Lawyer Grant Sutherland, of Sutherland & Company, who is representing Murrayville House builder Newmark Life owned by Mark Chandler, said the company is unable to transfer units to buyers because of the court actions.
“The Murrayville House had cost over-runs. The Chandler Company has not been able to pay its lenders,” Sutherland told The Times.
“A civic claim has been filed against the Chandler Company and the Superintendent has issued an emergency order that prevents us from completing the sales.”
Appointed under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA), the Bowra Group Inc., a Vancouver accounting firm with expertise in insolvency and restructuring, “is now responsible for any marketing of Murrayville House in compliance with the terms of its appointment by the court” the consumer alert issued by the superintendent’s office, said.
Bowra has been named the receiver and manager “of the assets, undertakings and properties” of principal owner Mark Chandler, of Newmark, doing business as 0981478 B.C. Ltd.
A statement posyed online by Bowra said the strata lots were “to be sold to repay the indebtedness owed to various creditors of 0981478 B.C. Ltd.”
Documents filed with the B.C. Supreme Court registry in New Westminster show as of mid-September, 90 of the 92 units had been purchased.
Bowra said it was currently gathering information with respect to presale contracts.
“We understand that many presale purchasers want to complete the sale of their units and move in,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately, we cannot complete any sale of the units without obtaining Home Warranty Insurance coverage, complying with the Superintendent of Real Estate issued Order, issuing new Disclosure Statement and obtaining Court approval of all contracts.”
It asks buyers email copies of their sales contracts, including proof of deposit payment, to firstname.lastname@example.org “as we may not receive copies of this information from the developer.”
Newlyweds Tim and Stephanie Lamb are among the buyers left in the lurch.
They originally bought their condo in March 2016.
“It’s been a lot of stress,” Stephanie said. “It’s just put our life on hold a little bit.”
Prior to the receivership order, the Superintendent of Real Estate issued a cease-marketing order to the owners.
The order was made on an urgent basis by Superintendent of Real Estate Micheal Noseworthy after determining that the developer was non-compliant with REDMA, and that it was in the public interest to make the order urgently without a hearing.
Conditions in the order included requiring Newmark to file a new disclosure statement for all units that includes all material facts “without any misrepresentation” and placing all deposit funds in a trust account held by a trustee.
An online profile of Newmark president Mark Chandler describes the company as “a full-service real estate development and construction company with over three decades of experience in building homes of distinction, from mid-rise boutique dwellings to high-rise concrete towers, as well as commercial, recreational and retail properties throughout British Columbia, California and Arizona.”
Newmark Properties still has an active website, which lists Murrayville House as ‘sold out.’ The Newmark website also shows two other developments in the Willoughby area as ‘coming soon.’
These are the Willow, offering 138 three-bedroom townhouses and Grace, offering 100 one- and two-bedroom condos.
Ramin Seifi, manager of engineering and community development for the Township, said one of those developments has been sold to another developer and that the project has just been submitted to the municipality.
Seifi said no other projects have been submitted by Newmark to the Township aside from the Murrayville House.
— with files from Monique Tamminga and Miranda Gathercole