Door opens for deposit after botched property sale

2011-07-02 10:46

A wrangle over the release of a R100 000 deposit following a botched property sale seems closer to resolution as the estate agency concerned has finally agreed to help the victim.

Century 21 refused to compensate prospective homeowner Penuel Kumalo of Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, but the estate agency committed to a dispute resolution process that will ultimately see the victim smiling all the way to the bank.

Kumalo has been fighting a losing battle with Century 21 over the release of the funds after he was defrauded by a representative of the estate agency.

Century 21 found evidence that linked its staffer to the fraudulent offence and dismissed the representative, but still failed to pay the refund to Kumalo.

After trying in vain to claim the money, Kumalo contacted Hotline.

On Tuesday Century 21’s chief executive Harry Nicolaides confirmed that arrangements to lodge a claim with the Estate Agency Affairs Board’s (EAAB) Fidelity Fund were at an advanced stage and Kumalo stood a good chance of having his money returned.

He admitted the agent in question worked for his company at the time of the offence and that she was registered with the EAAB.

“The agent conducted a deal with Kumalo but we had no knowledge of this until Kumalo complained about his loss,” Nicolaides said.

“This is obviously an act of fraud and our attorneys will help Kumalo with the procedure to claim from the Fidelity Fund.”

Kumalo wanted to buy a house and a friend referred him to two representatives from Century – Nomsa Stone and Joyce Ngengebule.

Kumalo identified a property in Springs “which sold” for R500 000 and he signed the offer to purchase.

The agents facilitated the process and submitted documents to Century 21.

A week later Stone advised Kumalo that the offer to purchase had been accepted. She further offered to help with the application for a homeloan which she then claimed the bank had approved.

Kumalo signed an acceptance letter after learning that he would receive a R350 000 loan, and Stone advised him to pay an upfront deposit of R100 000.

Kumalo made two separate payments of R40 000 and R60 000 in April and May respectively last year to Mokase Attorneys’ bank account.

The conveyancers acknowledged receipt of the money.

But, in fact, the transfer never took place and instead the agents advised Kumalo to occupy the property, but he refused to do so.

“They came up with all excuses and I started to doubt that the deal was legitimate. The conveyancers failed to honour appointments and the agents started to avoid my calls. When I finally got hold of Stone she blamed Mokase Attorneys for the delay. I cancelled the deal and demanded my money back and all hell broke loose,” Kumalo said.

He contacted the attorneys who claimed the R100 000 was paid back into an account belonging to Century 21, but they failed to provide proof of this.

Kumalo lodged a complaint with Century 21 and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. Both parties promised to investigate.

Century 21 concluded that its agent had committed fraud but did not refund Kumalo, even after dismissing the employee in question.

Meanwhile, the Law Society conducted its own investigation but Kumalo suspected the process was being dragged out longer than necessary and requested that Hotline intervene.

Director of the Law Society for the Northern Provinces, Thinus Grobler, confirmed that his office was investigating Mokase Attorneys’ alleged involvement in the matter.

The investigation continues.

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