‘Left in limbo’: $650,000 from hell for a dream home

Four Brisbane families have been dealt a devastating blow after a ‘greedy’ developer pulled out at the last second, leaving them ‘in limbo’.

Lisa Johnson and her husband began planning their “dream home” in February 2021 – but just 15 months later, that dream is in tatters.

The nightmare began early last year when the Johnsons and three other families decided to buy subdivided land on Elizabeth St in Brisbane’s Everton Hills.

The contract was signed and a deposit was paid in February 2021, with the couple saying at the time that it would only take a few months for the paperwork to be completed, with construction then “ready to go”.

But months of delays followed, with future owners asking for extensions to the so-called ‘sunset clause’ – which allows parties to terminate the contract after the stated expiry date.

Along the way, the four families say they were continually assured that everything was fine – but earlier this month the unthinkable happened, with a legal email revealing that the developer had removed at the last moment.

Although families are entitled to a full refund of their installments, Ms Johnson said the couple would be left with ‘thousands and thousands of dollars’ out of pocket after shelling out for items and services associated with the construction .

But what is even more devastating is the fact that over the past 15 months the real estate market has exploded, effectively pricing the family in when their project languished.

In fact, the mother-of-two said her family would have paid around $850,000 to build their brand new four-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom family home – but a similar home today would cost up to £1. $5 million, a price well beyond the family’s reach and representing a loss of approximately $650,000.

“The developer can just walk away and wash their hands of it,” an emotional Ms Johnson told news.com.au.

“My husband and I are in our 50s – we have about 15 years left (before retirement) and it was our chance to have our home.

“Not only did they take that away from us, but they also took every chance we had to get into the market now.

“That’s why it hurts – they’ve chained us down by our heartstrings, and the law is there to protect them; there is nothing to protect the little people, the fighters who are desperately trying to find a home to live in.

The social worker said the families were given no explanation as to why the promoter, LHI One Pty Ltd, terminated the contract, and that she believed it was because they realized that prices had skyrocketed since the initial contract was signed, meaning the developer could dramatically increase their revenue by canceling and reselling.

“Something has to change because these developers are greedy,” Ms Johnson said.

“They can turn around and sell the land for at least $200,000 more for each block, and leave us with no chance of getting anything.

“It’s just heartbreaking – I’m a pretty resilient person, but it really hit me. It’s a real kick in the gut.”

Julie Lyne, who had a contract on a block next to the Johnsons, told news.com.au what was happening was “wrong”.

“Why put us through this mental instability and financial struggle, then turn around and pull the pin?” she says.

“Being used as a backup plan is a mistake. We work hard and we don’t ask for much – we just wanted a house.

“Our life was in limbo and we were just put on hold…as each passing month house prices rose and rose. We are absolutely devastated.

Affected families sought legal advice and were told the situation was a ‘grey area’ and that they would need to consult a lawyer, which would make the battle too costly to pursue.

They said they had since heard of many similar cases across the country and said a change in legislation was needed to protect hard-working families.

News.com.au attempted to contact the developer via their solicitor, but no response was received.

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