House buyer not misled, court told

Last updated 05:00 02/09/2014

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Antipodes skincare brand founder Elizabeth Barbalich was not misled into paying $2.78 million for her family's Wellington home, the lawyer for a real estate agent says.

Barbalich says real estate agent Nicholas Reeve misrepresented the competition for the house in Mallam St, Karori, early last year, causing her to offer $250,000 more than she had intended.

In her evidence in the High Court at Wellington last month, Barbalich said Reeve, an agent for Leaders Wellington City, told her there were two other tenders for the house and later that there was another offer "just as good" as her own.

In fact, hers was the only tender.

Reeve denied saying other tenders were received, or that one was as good as hers. He did, however, agree that he told her two other sets of tender documents were sent to potential buyers.

In the High Court yesterday, the lawyer for Leaders and Reeve, Jonathan Parker, said Reeve had been accurate at the time and he had an obligation to the sellers not to say no other tenders were received.

Lawyers for both sides made submissions to Justice Jill Mallon and she reserved her decision.

Barbalich's lawyer, Felix Geiringer, said even if Reeve had not gone as far as alleged once he found out no-one else was going to make an offer, he was obliged to "put the record straight".

Either Reeve should have not talked about other potential buyers, or he had to say if the position he had outlined had changed.

The judge said the tender process was confidential and Reeve was acting for the seller.

It was one thing to say others were interested in the property, but another to say there were other tenderers.

Barbalich said that she had intended to offer $2.53m but, as a result of the advice from Reeve, she decided on the spot to increase the offer to $2.7m.

The sellers counter-offered at $3m and Barbalich went up to $2.78m, which was accepted.

Parker said tenderers always had to make their best offers or they risked missing out, even if theirs was the only offer.

One of the sellers, Tim Vogel, had said in evidence last month that, although there had been a downturn in his finances and those of his wife, they did not have to sell at that time and could have offered the property again after 12 months.

Parker said the counter-offer was the best evidence of what would have happened if Barbalich's offer had been the $2.53m she had first intended.

It would have been rejected, Parker said.

But Geiringer said the Vogels were "motivated" to sell and the $2.7m offer may have excited them to seek more than they would have previously accepted.

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