West Vancouver woman loses $275K deposit after backing out of Trump tower condo deal

BC Supreme Court justice rules sales contract was binding
A West Vancouver woman lost her deposit after backing out of deal to buy a condo in Vancouver's Trump tower | submitted  

A West Vancouver woman who changed her mind about buying a $2.75 million condo in Vancouver’s Trump Tower after signing the contract has been told by a judge she won’t be getting her deposit back.

Lydia May Chen, an ophthalmologist, sued the developer, West Georgia Development Ltd. Partnership, after the company refused to hand back her deposit of more than $275,000 when Chen reneged on the deal.

Chen’s lawyer made several arguments about why the real estate contract to buy a three-bedroom unit on one of the “exclusive levels” of the Trump International Hotel and Tower should be considered unenforceable, according to the judge’s decision.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Sewell remained unconvinced.

According to court documents, Chen was living in a large house in West Vancouver’s British Properties when the Trump Tower development was being marketed. Chen thought it might make sense for her to move downtown.

“She was interested in the development because of the reputation of the defendant developer and because of its central location and spectacular views,” the judge wrote.

Chen attended a presentation by the developer’s sales agent on Nov. 2, 2013 and expressed interest in a condo on the “exclusive levels” of Trump Tower.

She returned with a bank draft for the deposit later the same day, reviewed the disclosure statement and signed the contract, according to the judge.

Some time later, Chen had second thoughts about the condo and did not make a required second deposit on the property. The developer then cancelled the deal.

In arguments about why the deal should be considered unenforceable, Chen’s lawyer said that not only was the developer required to give prospective purchasers a reasonable opportunity to read the disclosure statement, it must also give them “a reasonable opportunity to understand the disclosure statement.”

The judge didn’t agree.

“Whether a person has been given an opportunity to read a document is a relatively simple question of fact. However, whether a person has been given an adequate opportunity to understand a complex document involves a far more complex issue,” wrote Sewell. “If the legislature had intended to impose a requirement that a person understand a document it could have said so.”

The judge noted under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, Chen had seven days after signing the contract during which she could have changed her decision.

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