House buyer's husband suspicious of agent

Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014
Elizabeth Barbalich

TOP DOLLAR: Skincare entrepreneur Elizabeth Barbalich complained the sellers of a high-end Karori house got $250,000 more than she had bargained for, based on the word of real estate agent Nicholas Reeve.

Elizabeth Barbalich
OUTRAGED: Elizabeth Barbalich

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The husband of a woman who's accusing her real estate agent of making up rival bids to boost her offer went "berserk" when he found out, a court has been told.

Antipodes skincare boss Elizabeth Barbalich is suing Leaders and agent Nicholas Reeve for the $250,000 she says she increased her offer by, based on Reeve's allegedly misleading conduct.

Reeve denies telling her two other offers were made for the home in Mallam St, Karori, for which she paid $2.78 million early last year, but agrees he told her that tender documents were sent to two other parties.

Two days before tenders closed, the prospects were discussed in an email from Reeve to lawyer Tim Vogel, who owned the house with his wife, who is also a lawyer.

Reeve wrote: "It will be either her or nothing, not that they will know that of course!"

In court, Reeve said: "I could hardly go and say to Mrs Barbalich that those people who were interested are not interested any more, because then I would be sued by the vendor."

A complaint Barbalich made to the Real Estate Agents Authority about his conduct was dismissed.

A judge in the High Court at Wellington has been told that her husband, Zoran Barbalich, a property investor, suspected there had been no other offers.

He rang Reeve, and his wife did not understand why he had been so forceful in what he said to him.

The content of the call is disputed, but Reeve said Zoran Barbalich had gone "berserk".

Reeve was asked why Elizabeth Barbalich would have thought two other offers were received.

He said she must have misinterpreted him saying that two other sets of tender documents were sent out.

He also said he thought there was a "bigger picture" between the Barbaliches. "I think she was in trouble with her husband, paying that amount, and she told him I said there were two other tenders and I didn't."

Reeve's lawyer, Jonathan Parker, said one of the issues in the case was whether Barbalich suffered any loss, even if Reeve had said what Barbalich alleged.

When she offered $2.7m, the Vogels counter-offered at $3m. A second offer of $2.78m was accepted.

Tim Vogel said he was "pretty certain" they would not have accepted the $2.53m Barbalich said she had intended offering before Reeve told her that she should make her best offer.

The evidence has finished and Justice Jill Mallon will hear from the lawyers in the case later this month.

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- The Dominion Post

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