British Columbia

Pre-sale contracts abruptly terminated at Richmond, B.C., apartment building

Developer has cancelled pre-sale contracts for a 15-storey residential building in the city centre.

Developer sued for $4.6 million by project's construction company, say ousted home buyers

Ron Lee, left, and Jeremy Hsu are two of the pre-sale buyers whose contracts were terminated by developer Sunny Ho. (Doug Kerr/CBC )

A Richmond, B.C., developer has cancelled pre-sale contracts for a 15-storey residential building in the city centre.

Anderson Square Holdings, directed by Sunny Ho — president of the Business Association of Richmond — will provide pre-sale buyers of the Alfa building with full deposit refunds plus interest.

"I'm ready to retire. They broke my dreams. I wait so many years and now I save all the money and they broke my dream. I want justice," said Ron Lee, one of the pre-sale buyers. 

Construction on the Alfa at Anderson Road and Buswell Street was supposed to be complete in 2018. The completion date was extended to 2019.

Construction on the Alfa building on Anderson Road and Buswell Street in Richmond is set to be completed by the end of 2019. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

In a termination of contract letter, received on July 12, pre-sale buyers of the building were told the developer is being sued for $4.6 million by the construction company working on the project, Scott Construction Group. 

This means Anderson Square Holdings is no longer legally obligated to honour the pre-sale agreement.

In the termination letter sent to presale buyers the developer said, "This Alfa development can not be granted a satisfactory financing commitment in this uncertain business environment."

However, construction continues at the building site. Construction workers say they will complete within six months. 

Housing market

Vancouver realtor and housing analyst Steve Saretsky warns the Alfa project is not unique.

"Sometimes construction costs rise well above what has been budgeted and the developer can get into financial difficulty," said Saretsky in an email statement to CBC. 

Back in October 2015 when the prospective Alfa buyers signed their contracts, the costs for similar Richmond condos was around $500 per square foot. First-time home buyer Jeremy Hsu put down a $36,000 deposit for a one-bedroom suite in Alfa. Now, the cost is more than $800 per square foot, according to Saretsky. Both Hsu and Lee say they cannot afford this. 

Lee says he is in a group of 26 pre-sale buyers who are seeking legal advice on what to do next. They have reached out to Ho multiple times and have not received a reply. 

The CBC has also reached out to Ho for comment, and did not receive a response.  

With files from Deborah Goble. 

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