A West Vancouver property owner has launched a lawsuit against a couple who she says made a deal to buy her home then reneged on the contract after the global economy collapsed in 2008.
Barbara Element is suing Polina Alexandra Del Mar and Hygrozyme Management Inc, a company owned by Del Mar's husband Boris, claiming the couple tried to back out of the real estate deal in order to make a lowball offer when the market started falling.
After the deal collapsed, Element had to sell the house in January 2009 for $334,000 less than the Del Mars had offered.
Element has asked for a release of a $100,000 deposit and is suing for damages, including losses in the market, plus $11,000 in interim financing costs, realtors' fees of almost $17,000 and legal fees of more than $7,000.
The Del Mars have argued mistakes made in drafting the contract have left it unenforceable. They have counter-sued for the deposit and have
asked that any damages be passed on to the realtors involved in the sale for negligence in preparing the contract.
According to court documents, Element listed her house on Lawson Avenue for $1.6 million in July 2008.
The Del Mars told their real estate agent to prepare an offer for $1.562 million, later reduced to $1.544 million, and paid a $100,000 deposit. The deal, listing Polina Del Mar and Hygrozyme as the purchasers, was to close on Oct. 29, 2008.
But only Polina Del Mar actually signed the agreement before the couple left on a trip to Europe. Element has claimed that was on purpose.
In anticipation of the sale, Element bought another home in West Vancouver and started moving out of the Lawson Avenue home.
But about 10 days before the sale was to finalize, the Del Mars wrote to Element saying the deal was not enforceable because only one of them had signed the contract.
"In view of the recent market reversals and deteriorating economic circumstances, it appears that this property is now significantly overvalued and as such, we are very seriously considering electing not to complete the purchase," they wrote.
The letter added that if Element would agree to sell the Lawson Avenue home to them for $1.44 million, the Del Mars would go ahead with the deal. The couple then presented a contract for $1.44 million directly to Element, which she rejected.
In their defence, Polina Del Mar said she never intended to buy the property by herself, as she would not be able to afford it without her husband's company.
But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Punnett noted neither of the Del Mars provided an explanation as to why the contract wasn't signed on behalf of the company.
This month, Punnett rejected a request that the case be decided by a summary trial - based on written affidavits - and ordered that the case be set for a regular trial as soon as possible.