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NZ Cash crisis over penthouse

Property Here - Tuesday, July 02, 2013

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Mortgage arrears put squeeze on apartment owner facing huge loss from forced sale.

Apartments in The Landings need repairs, says Phil White.
Apartments in The Landings need repairs, says Phil White.

British-born computer specialist Phil White is facing a mortgagee sale on his luxurious Auckland apartment because he has not made full mortgage repayments.

He is pleading for Westpac's clemency, saying the bank will get far more money if it just waits before forcing the sale.

A Westpac spokesman said clients' financial circumstances were confidential and he could not talk about White's plight, but he indicated the bank did not act without a reason.

"We are always open to working with customers, but don't comment publicly on their personal circumstances," the spokesman said.

Correspondence provided by White shows residential loans management analyst Anjina Devi told him that as of May 29, he owed $11,340.70 on his loan account and he must file a proposal to resolve the situation.

The bank had put recovery action on hold to give him time to clear the outstanding defaults.

White was told he must meet his ongoing loan repayments, rates payments and insurance premium.

Westpac had already forwarded his file to solicitors Simpson Grierson to issue a notice for the defaults, Devi told him.

White said he paid $615,000 for the two-level apartment 707 on top of The Landings on the corner of Beach and Ronayne Sts in Quay Park near the old Auckland Railway Station. He borrowed $450,000 from Westpac.

Now, he says real estate agents are telling him he'd be lucky to recover $200,000 on the penthouse sale but he objects to Westpac's mortgagee move.

He had planned to live in Fiji during the winter and spend the hotter summers in his Auckland apartment but said he was denied New Zealand residency and so must rent out the apartment for $730 a week.

However, that does not cover the mortgage repayments. White said he was not earning so could pay no more to the bank than the rent.

White said he was forced to retire because he could not find work as a computer consultant and was living in Fiji in extremely humble circumstances.

Apartments in The Landings need extensive weathertightness repairs, he said.

Body corporate minutes from the April 11 AGM recorded an update from Bryan Easton of leaky building litigation specialists Grimshaw & Co, about legal proceedings and their chances of winning against Auckland Council and James Hardie.

The Landings also stands on leasehold land, rent-free for 15 years until landowner Ngati Whatua O Orakei Trust Board began charging about two years ago, resulting in many apartments in the area suffering huge value drops.

White wants publicity about his plight, and said he had sought help from many different quarters and had so far been unsuccessful.

But he is also upset about his property experience in New Zealand, saying he had owned properties elsewhere in the world and the Auckland experience was his worst.

"I bought the thing in good faith. I'm knackered by the leaky building thing which I knew nothing about," White said.

"I have no income. I'm retired and I live on someone else's land in a jungle in Fiji at the back of Pacific Harbour. I'm telling Westpac that if they sell it now, it's the worst thing they can do because they're not going to get what the property will be worth," he said.

"It has American oak, Italian marble floors, two underground carparks with a lock-up storage unit, air conditioning, a heat pump, video phone entry system."

A City Sales apartment auction five years ago saw Blue Chip investors quit a unit in The Landings for only $200,000, a sum said to be precisely half the $400,000 they had paid.

Mortgage arrears

* Phil White owes Westpac $11,340.70.
* His luxury Auckland apartment could be sold.
* $615,000 unit might only fetch $200,000.