An apartment buyer in Auckland is decrying her loss of a $60,000 deposit, but the developer says it isn't liable to pay it back.

Bridie Campbell, 24, a student, said she used an inheritance from her father who died two years ago to put down a $60,000 deposit on a unit in the apartment complex between Union St and Nelson St but now she wants it back because no financer will loan her the rest of the money she needs for the unit.

But Darren Brown, Sugartree managing director, said today it was clear in the contract that buyers must settle once they paid deposits. Sugartree had done nothing wrong in retaining the deposit, she bought via a real estate agent and she owes the balance of the money for the unit she agreed to buy, Brown said.

"We do have sympathy for her and have put her in touch with a finance broker to assist her. We've done what we can," Brown said. "We've built just under 700 apartments and 99 per cent of buyers did what they said they'd do and settled their purchases. We've had very few defaults. This is a warning to people: be careful about signing up to a contract," Brown said.

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Sugartree's funders had been paid the deposits which had partly financed the property's development, Brown stressed.

Not only would the $60,000 be legally retained, but Campbell was now liable for full and final settlement, he said, because she had agreed to that in a written contract.

"It's an unfortunate situation she's in. There's no question she's due to settle the contract. She's liable for the balance," Brown said referring to her purchase in the new block.

But Campbell says she can't settle because she can't get the money and she wants her money back.

"This money has sentimental value to me and I'm sure you can empathise with me on this matter. I purchased a 45sq m one-bedroom and study apartment and carpark off the plans in the new Sugartree complex Altro with a 10 per cent deposit. They took a deposit of $60,000," Campbell said.

"Now that settlement has come around two years later, I am unable to settle, after going to every single bank and multiple mortgage brokers approaching it from every possible angle."

She said that she had been informed by her lawyers that Sugartree could potentially sue her for the value of the apartment, forcing her to sell at a loss. She would then still be liable for the balance between the sale price and the price she agreed to pay.

She now wants her deposit back and claims the party she paid the $60,000 to should have warned her about the difficulties she might face getting finance.

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