Murrayville House was finished earlier this year, but sits empty as contracts and court issues are ironed out. (Langley Advance files)

Murrayville House in new hands

A court-appointed firm is sorting out contracts and meeting with the purchasers.

It may be months before owners of Murrayville House condos can take possession of their homes, said the receiver now controlling the building.

“We’re trying to shoot for six to eight weeks, but I can’t promise anything,” said Mario Mainella, senior vice president at the Bowra Group, which has been appointed to deal with the long-delayed project.

Bowra was appointed receiver Oct. 4 by a B.C. Supreme Court judge. They are now responsible for sorting through multiple contracts, dealing with people who signed up and put down desposits for pre-sale condos years ago, and for those with other ownership interests.

“We are trying everything we can to push this along as quickly as possible,” said Mainella.

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That said, there are obstacles, he noted.

“Nobody’s going to move in until we do a number of things,” Mainella said.

Those include replacing a cancelled home warranty, filing a new financial disclosure statement for buyers, working with Langley Township on finalizing occupancy permits, and reviewing all the contracts for units.

Mainella said they have already spoken to more than 100-plus potential owners, on a 92-unit project.

Some buyers believe their units were sold twice. There were also contracts on some units at “wholesale” prices, in which the wholesale buyer was expected to turn the condo over to an ordinary pre-sale buyer on completion, earning the difference between the “wholesale” and final prices.

“We need to figure out what are valid contracts,” said Mainella.

They have been in contact with the developer and expect that company to send over information.

The condos were developed by a numbered company directed by Mark Chandler, of the Newmark Group, headquartered in Langley.

The project, expected to have been completed in February 2016, dragged on through delay after delay, frustrating pre-sale buyers who had planned to move into the building in early 2016.

The project also became bogged down with multiple lawsuits, including foreclosure actions from mortgage holders who said they were owed millions of dollars. The entire project was three years in arrears on property taxes to Langley Township, and only a last-minute payment of $21,848 just before the deadline averted a tax sale in September.

Meanwhile, Chandler is facing extradition proceedings to the U.S.

BC Supreme Court documents show that the FBI investigated Chandler and his U.S. development company, Landcor Holdings. American law enforcement alleges that Chandler made false representations from investors to obtain their money.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

After the project was officially placed in the hands of the receiver in early October, the B.C. Superintendent of Real Estate issued a consumer alert on the project.

The original owner of the project has been banned from marketing the project since Sept. 8.