Agent attacks skincare boss over $2.78m house sale

Last updated 14:04 05/08/2014
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
Nicholas Reeve
SUED: Nicholas Reeve

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Antipodes skincare entrepreneur Elizabeth Barbalich "made up a story" about why she paid so much for an upmarket Wellington property but there was also confusion around other offers for the house, a court has been told.

Leaders real estate agent Nicholas Reeve told the court Barbalich made up a story about their being two other offers for the house to explain to her husband why she paid $2.78 million.

He also said she "interpreted things incorrectly" when she thought he had said two other tenders were received for the property she wanted.

In court today, Reeve went on to say he thought she had not told her husband that she had increased the offer they had agreed to make.

"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.

"An agent of my experience would never say to anyone under any circumstances that we had received other offers when we had not."

Reeve and Leaders faces a $250,000 claim of misleading a buyer.

Reeve denies saying two other tenders were received.

He did not believe that, before tenders closed, he said that he had expected two other offers, but he did say two other sets of tender documents had been distributed.

Barbalich paid $2.78 million early last year for a Mallam St, Karori, property for herself, husband and three teenage children.

She says Reeve misled her about the interest in the house and as a result she increased her offer $250,000. She is asking for $250,000 compensation.

In her evidence yesterday she said she and property investor husband Zoran had the house valued and took that into account along with the rating value of $2.35 million before deciding to offer $2.53 million.

But an hour before tenders were to close on February 28 last year she said she met with Reeve to complete the tender document and he told her two other offers had been made for the house.

She said she felt under "huge" pressure but decided to increase the offer to $2.7m.

Later that day she was told the sellers had countersigned the offer at $3m.

The following day he told her that the sellers would negotiate with her but there was another offer right behind hers, or as good as hers, and it was "now or never".

"I felt I had to make a decision on the spot and I offered another $80,000 hoping that would be enough."

Reeve said today that on the day tenders closed he knew there would be no other offers but he did not tell Barbalich that.

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

Barbalich's complaint to the Real Estate Agents Authority was dismissed.

Reeve said he had a reputation for integrity and specialising in high-end properties. The sellers of the house were both lawyers and they were hardly likely to employ somebody they felt was going to compromise their position.

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The hearing is continuing.

- The Dominion Post

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