Economy

My house was sold for $1,000: Man fights sheriff’s auction of his home over unpaid debt

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A Melbourne man is fighting to reverse the sheriff’s extraordinary $1,000 sale of his six-bedroom Braybrook home.

Zhiping Zhou’s house was repossessed by the sheriff. It still remains in Zhou’s registered name, according to a title search, although there are warrants of claim registered on title.

The ABC reported today the Victoria Supreme Court heard the imposing two-storey brick house had an estimated value of $630,000 but was sold at auction without a reserve.

The highest bidder bought the Wirraway Avenue home for $1,000, apparently beating off a $200 bidder.

Zhou’s lawyers told the court the sale was “absurd”, ABC court reporter Sarah Farnsworth writes.

They have called on the judge to reverse the sale and to find the sheriff in breach of duty, the ABC reported.

“[The sale is] so short of the mark it’s not a real sale,” barrister Paul Hayes reportedly told the court.

He said it was hard to imagine lawmakers had intended for people like Mr Zhou to lose out so badly.

The judge was asked to invalidate the sale or award damages. Justice Vickery is listed to continue the hearing on Friday February 10 in the Commercial and Equity division.

The man who bought the home is also being accused of taking advantage of Zhou, however his lawyer told the court the sale was legal and legally it could have been sold for one cent.

The property had been briefly listed in 2007 through Barry Plant Sunshine, according to the Australian Property Monitors auction data base. It was then listed with different agents in June 2010 with $650,000-plus hopes for its slightly postponed July 2010 auction, according to the APM report on the property.

There was a subsequent $660,000 auction offer, but it fell short of the $750,000 reserve price when listed through Burnham Real Estate.

Details and timing of the eventful sheriff’s auction are unknown, but its understood to have been about five months after the property’s July listing.

The debt owing as at April 2010, was at $104,155.86, according to the seizure warrant.

Burnham listing agents Khuong Vien and Tony Gerace marketed it in July 2010 as a modern double-storey family home with bedrooms for all the family to enjoy.

“Situated in a quiet residential location and nestled amongst all modern brick homes and an area to surely enjoy a bright future,” the marketing suggested.

The home comprises six bedrooms with built-in wardrobes, master with ensuite, plus study and three bathrooms and double garage.

“It was complemented with polished floor, spa, reverse cycle split systems, high ceilings and much more,” the marketing said.

The block cost $170,000 in 2003.

Lawyers for the sheriff’s office say it had no obligation to get a fair price.

The directions hearing between Zhiping Zhou versus the buyer, Ronald Geoffrey Kousal and others began with direction hearings last June in the Victorian Supreme Court.

This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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