The company behind the high-profile Takapuna apartments on The Block site has gone into voluntary administration, leaving a prominent North Shore real estate agency owed about $400,000.

Companies Office records show Auburn Development which developed The Sargeson Apartments is in the hands of Bryan Williams of BWA Insolvency after a decision by the board of directors.

Martin Cooper of Harcourts Cooper & Co said today: "It's a sad story. The mortgagee has taken over. We are owed money for the sales, close to $400,000. We sold 30 of them and were paid some money. We settled properties and people moved in but the lawyers have instructed not to pay commissions."

Sixteen units remained unsold, Cooper said. His business was the main selling agency moving many of the units, although other agencies also sold the apartments.

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"The sad thing is individual salespeople who put their heart and soul into the sales. They put in time and effort and have families to feed. I'm taking legal advice on our position and getting an assessment on what's the best way to protect that. We're investigating putting a caveat on the titles to protect our position," he said referring to the 16 unsold units.

Last November, Auburn Development wrote to buyers of the 92-unit Sargeson Apartments on Anzac St near Takapuna's shopping centre, seeking more money to settle purchases.

Due to building costs rising and development finance becoming "virtually unavailable", buyers must pay more, letters said.

Pre-purchasers were then asked to pay a further 8 per cent.

One buyer said at the time that a place which was costing $465,000 originally would now cost him $535,000 and he was unhappy.

Companies Office records show Auburn Development's sole director and shareholder is David James Oliphant of St Heliers. The company was formed in July, 2014.

The Companies Office says: "If your business is failing, you may be able to save it by choosing to bring in an independent administrator — this is called voluntary administration."

The administrator will then review and rearrange your business and financial affairs.

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"If your company can't be saved, the administrator's focus is to provide creditors and shareholders with a better financial return than might have been achieved were your company put straight into liquidation," the Companies Office said.

The Sargeson Apartments appear fully finished and were named after Shore writer Frank Sargeson.

In 2015, the Herald reported how apartments would be priced from $395,000 for a 40sq m studio apartment to a 78sq m two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse for $825,000.

The large complex at 33a Anzac St included an outdoor pool and children's playground, it said at the time.

Marketing material described them as the ultimate investment, lifestyle, lock-up-and-leave beachside pads.

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Sargeson buyers asked for more money

The four homes from the first season of The Block NZ were removed to make way for the apartments, selling for up with $1m-plus when the DIY show finished.

Those stand-alone renovated older homes were then bought by developers who planned to then built the apartments.

Martin Cooper of Harcourts featured the apartments in a video last March, saying the site was perfect for such a scheme. Buyers would not be boxed in because they looked over a street on one side and a sports amenity on the opposite side, he said.

The Sargeson's website says the apartments will be finished in May, even though residents have shifted in. It is advertising the last one-bedroom places for sale from $495,000 and two Harcourts agents are listed as the people to contact.