Hopes dashed for would-be Lower Mainland condo buyers

Murrayville House’s condos are finally up for sale.

The beleaguered Murrayville House condo complex in Langley is up for sale, after a judge nullified all previous pre-sale contracts.

Pre-sale buyers will now be given the first opportunity to buy units, but at much higher prices than their original contracts.

“I think there’s only going to be one or two people who are going to take the offer,” said Nolan Killeen, who represents one of the groups of would-be buyers. “The rest are going to be priced out.”

The condo project was slated to have been finished in early 2016, but it was plagued with delays and then thrown into limbo when it was placed in court-ordered receivership.

The prices of condos rose rapidly during that time. Condo units were originally listed for sale at between $199,900 and $358,900.

An appraisal earlier this year showed units were 46 per cent more valuable than contract prices.

Some pre-sale buyers are still dealing with the surprise of the court ruling, said Killeen.

“Now they’re having to find some alternative solution,” he said.

Some buyers are having to head farther east in search of affordable housing, to Abbotsford, Chilliwack, or even Cultus Lake in one case, said Killeen.

Others are scaling back what they can afford, going down from a two-bedroom, two-bath condo in Murrrayville House to a studio condo in Langley City.

The pre-sale buyers had been fighting in court to have their contracts honoured.

But the mortgage lenders to the developer argued that they had legal priority, and B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick has agreed in a series of court rulings through the spring and summer. The July 25 ruling wiped out the last few pre-sale contracts.

READ MORE: Buyers hope for court win in Langley condo case

“Again, this is an unfortunate result for those purchasers under the pre-sale contracts,” Fitzpatrick wrote in her ruling. “This is particularly evident for those individuals who thought they had ‘bought’ into the rising market at an opportune time in order to secure a home.”

The Bowra Group, which is acting as the court-appointed receiver for the condo project, is now marketing the units at murrayvillelangley.ca.

Bowra is sending out offers to all the pre-sale buyers, who have right of first refusal on their units, but at current prices.

More than 152 pre-sale contracts of various types existed for the 92 units in the condo complex near Langley Memorial Hospital. Some units had two, three or in one case four contracts for their sale.

Bowra will essentially act as the developer for the project, said company vice-president Mario Mainella.

Once the project is sold, Bowra will likely be asked to hold the sale proceeds in trust while litigation continues over who is owed what.

Murrayville House was originally developed by a numbered firm controlled by Mark Chandler.

Chandler was ordered extradited to the United States to face a fraud charge in California. He remains in Canada while he appeals the ruling.

The Langley RCMP announced earlier this year that an investigation had been opened into Murrayville House.

READ MORE: Contentious condo project under investigation: Langley RCMP

READ MORE: Langley developer under RCMP investigation

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