Metricon has listed $65 million worth of property for sale across four states as the embattled construction giant remains under scrutiny for its financial affairs in tough market conditions that have already topped a string of other companies.
At least 56 display homes were listed in the last two weeks, from a $650,000 home in regional Victoria to a $3.2 million property in Melbourne.
Metricon has waved away rumours it was nearing bankruptcy as the supply chain and labour shortage crises have seen several construction companies fold in the past year — among them, Privium, Probuild, Condev, BA Murphy, and Pivotal Homes.
Metricon, the country’s largest home builder, secured a deal with the Commonwealth Bank in May, while the company’s owners injected $30 million into the business too.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
In a statement about the mass display home listings, Metricon’s acting chief executive Peter Langfelder said there was nothing to see here.
“Metricon builds displays, sometimes they are then sold to investors who lease them back to Metricon for a period of time to use as display homes, sometimes they are sold without a lease when they are not needed anymore,’’ he said.
“This is how Metricon has always run its display program. The display fund group are selling a number of display homes as part of the natural cycle of the fund’s operations. The majority of the displays will continue to be leased by Metricon.”
It comes as a former Queensland sales manager at Metricon has sued his former employer for $588,000, claiming management underpaid his commissions.
Gold Coast’s Jason Klos alleged when he started working with MetInvest, Metricon’s investment-home division, he should’ve received up to $3285 for each house he sold.
He claimed Metricon Homes Queensland emailed him to say his commissions would be slashed by up to a half, but also said he never agreed to it and was owed the difference.
Klos alleged it came to $310,165 owing to him, as well as a termination payout. Metricon responded that it would defend the claim, though no hearing date has been set yet.
And it’s not only former employees who are making their gripe with Metricon very public.
A Sydney family claimed Metricon builders Photoshopped an image after an independent engineer noted their home build didn’t have enough control joints.
“They treated us like criminals on our own site. We went to the Photoshopped joint, we pulled out the mastik [adhesive] and there was no joint. They knew what they were doing,” Salv Barbagallo told Daily Mail Australia.
“They threatened me with a Supreme Court injunction. The lowest of tactics. This stuff frightens you, I don’t have their financial backing. You lose friends along the way, it’s sad.”
Metricon employs about 2500 staff across Australia’s eastern seaboard with about 4000 houses under construction.