Tradie loses $240k house deposit in real estate horror story
A Sydney tradie has lost his $241,500 deposit and the chance to own a $4.8 million Eastern Suburbs dream home because he missed the date to pay the deposit on the property by two days.
Theo Alexakis brought civil court proceedings against the sellers of the home on Kings Rd, Vaucluse, in the NSW Supreme Court in an attempt to recover his deposit. But Justice Rowan Darke ruled on Monday that the home's vendors, Chi Hing Wan and Kwan Yee Chan, could keep Mr Alexakis's $241,500 and the property.
According to court documents, Mr Alexakis, a fitter and glazer, had lodged a development application with Woollahra Council to renovate the five-bedroom house that has Harbour views.
Mr Alexis exchanged contracts at a price of $4.8 million on April 4, 2019.
Mr Alexakis was to hand over $150,000 of the deposit when the contracts were exchanged and the remaining $91,500 was to be paid "on the fourth month after the contract date."
The court heard Mr Alexakis interpreted this to mean he could pay the remainder at any time during August 2019 - the fourth month after the contract was exchanged.
However, the vendors believed it meant the $91,500 had to be paid by August 4, exactly four months after the date the contracts were exchanged.
On July 1, 2019, Mr Alexakis travelled to Greece with his family and told the court he believed he could pay the balance of the deposit "on a date on or later than 5 August 2019 or at any time in the month of August".
During July, the sellers' agent, Courtney Wong, sent Mr Alexakis emails reminding him to pay the remainder of the deposit. On August 1, Mr Alexakis responded that "With regards to the second part of the deposit I'm currently overseas and have been for the past 5 weeks. I will be returning on 6th August and will be depositing the balance … shortly after."
On August 5, the vendors' solicitor wrote to Mr Alexakis to inform him "the vendor has elected to terminate the contract" because of the failure to pay" the $91,500.
Despite this, on August 7 Mr Alexakis paid the $91,500 but was informed the property sale had been terminated.
Mr Alexakis placed a caveat on the property, but his Supreme Court legal action failed, with Justice Darke rejecting his argument that the contract said the remainder of the deposit could be paid at any time in August.
Justice Darke told the court that "the language is awkward in that it is not usual to speak of money being or becoming payable 'on' a particular month, as opposed to 'on' a particular day" but ruled the amount was payable before August 5.
Justice Darke ruled the vendors were allowed to void the sale because Mr Alexakis had misunderstood its terms and breached the contract.
The court also heard that Woollahra Council rejected Mr Alexakis's development application.
Originally published as Tradie loses $240k house deposit in real estate horror story