John Weekes

John Weekes is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Angry buyers want action on new houses

Louis Chen.  Photo / Doug Sherring
Louis Chen. Photo / Doug Sherring

Angry home buyers and investors are running out of patience over a troubled housing development that promised massive returns.

The Serious Fraud Office says it has received a complaint about the Albany Heights subdivision, which was meant to be part of the answer to Auckland's desperate housing shortage.

The developers promised three-bedroom townhouses from as little as $375,000. The average house price in the city has soared to more than half a million dollars.

The new subdivision was to include 124 townhouses in its first stage alone. Stage two sprawled across a 5ha site on Silver Moon Rd.

Albany Heights promised buyers their own shops, creches and swimming pools.

Some of the buyers who rushed in were speculators or property investors, but other were first-home buyers looking for a toe-hold in Auckland's tough housing market.

Property developer Chris Cook insisted the first stage of new houses at Albany Heights would be built, but the fate of the second stage remained uncertain.

One young investor said the dreams he once had for his family's first home were fading.

"It's already more than one year behind schedule. There should be something already," Louis Chen said.

"Right now we are still trying to understand the situation."

Chen, 28, said some people were lured by promises of massive 38 per cent returns, but he simply wanted a modest family home for his wife and baby.

"The property was a very reasonable price. It was not a very luxurious home. The housing prices have gone crazy recently. We just wanted an affordable home."

In June 2011, he paid $10,000 to Hornabrook Macdonald Lawyers. Two months later, he paid $32,000 to Hunter Gills Road Limited.

"That's our hard-earned money," he said.

Cook said yesterday some progress had been made but he could not give investors any assurances.

The "fundamental root of the problem" had been timing and a long-running battle for resource consent.

"Stage two's up in the air. Stage one will be built," Cook said yesterday, adding he now had all the necessary approvals from Auckland Council.

Cook said his time as director was brief but he'd become the fall guy for some investors' frustrations over project delays.

"I've put myself into the firing line a little bit," he said. "We give updates as we can. You obviously can't satisfy everyone."

Chen, a Murrays Bay resident, often drives to Albany to see what progress had been made.

"I went back to the site a few times. The office was shut."

Although some investors were talking about legal action, Chen was still waiting.

"We have to understand the situation before we take legal action."

Read more: Frustrated home buyers want investors to be discouraged

- Herald on Sunday

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