Lawyers representing buyers in the troubled Murrayville House condo project in Langley have won a temporary stay of a court ruling that would force the purchasers to pay substantially higher prices than the units were originally sold for.
The group of 40 buyers has been granted leave to appeal the April 4 decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick, who ruled that they would not be able to purchase units at the prices they originally agreed upon.
The appeal will be heard June 12.
The application to overturn the decision was originally filed by lawyer Diego Solimano on behalf of eight named appellants. That number has now increased to 20.
Solimano called the ruling “an important step.”
The ruling was greeted as promising news for the people who signed agreements to buy units in the 92-unit condo at 5020 221A St. as far back as 2015, but they are not celebrating just yet.
“I don’t think it’s a victory, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Nolan Killeen, one of the buyers who speaks for a group of Murrayville House purchasers.
Several buyers have been house-sitting and renting rooms in hotels and bed-and-breakfasts while they’ve waited to move into the building.
Others, like Killeen, have since bought other condominiums to avoid being priced out of the market.
Killeen said some sales agreements were signed as far back as the fall of 2015, when some one-bedroom units in the project were selling for as little as $199,000.
If the April 4 decision is upheld by the appeals court, it would require buyers with signed pre-sale agreements to pay $100,000 to $200,000 above the original agreed-upon price if they are forced to pay current market rates.
Murrayville House ended up in receivership on Oct. 4, 2017, after months of wrangling between the builder and various creditors that prevented buyers from moving in.
The Bowra Group Inc., the court-appointed receiver in charge of untangling the condo project’s finances, has reported that a number of the units in the four-storey wood frame condo have been sold more than once, with 31 units sold twice, 12 units sold three times, and one unit sold four times.
The receiver recommended 40 of those 149 deals should be recognized and the buyers ought to be allowed to complete the deals.
The B.C. Supreme Court judge disagreed, saying it came down to the rights of the creditors, who would get more back if the units were sold at current market rates, versus the rights of the people who signed pre-sale agreements more than two years ago when real estate prices were lower.
Mario Mainella, Senior Vice President at Bowra Group, said until the appeal court rules on the matter, everything is on hold.
“We’re stuck at a red light right now,” Mainella told the Times.
“We can’t market or sell any units until the Court of Appeal renders a decision.”
Representatives of the project developer did not immediately respond to Times requests for comment.