SINGAPORE: A Chinese father-daughter duo who purchased an apartment in Singapore found their real estate plans going awry after two agreements fell through.
During the process, they were even cheated by a real estate agent out of S$600,000.
Expressing their discontent with the developer’s seizure of almost S$1.2 million as full payment, the father and daughter filed a lawsuit on 26 April this year to recover their funds.
On Tuesday (12 Sept), the High Court ruled that the developer could retain S$380,000 as the transaction deposit.
In accordance with the verdict, Wingcrown Investment, the developer, had already returned over S$480,000 to Li Jialin and her father, Li Suinan, prior to the trial on 19 April this year.
Justice Kwek Mean Luck determined that the developer could hold on to S$380,000 as the transaction deposit, while the remaining sum would be reimbursed to the father and daughter after accounting for and deducting the developer’s losses resulting from the agreement’s termination.
Li Family’s Condo Purchase Saga
The Li family, residing in Shenzhen, China, acquired a unit in The Crestoff Alexandra Road through Chinese real estate agent Liu Siyu (32 years old) in December 2015 for S$1,785,000.
Li Jialin disclosed in her affidavit that she met Liu Siyu while pursuing her education in the United Kingdom.
Liu proposed The Crest apartment to them, leading to their decision to purchase it and forward the payment to Liu Siyu.
To their surprise, Liu Siyu did not transfer the full payment to the developer, prompting the termination of the sales agreement.
According to Li Jialin, she and her father had transferred more than S$2.05 million to Liu Siyu between December 2015 and July 2018 to cover various expenses, including the unit price and stamp duty.
However, they later uncovered that Liu Siyu had embezzled nearly S$600,000 and fabricated payment records, deceiving them into believing that she had transferred all funds to the developer.
Li Jialin reported Liu Siyu to Singaporean authorities in October 2018.
Second condo deal aborted, property sold to others
In March 2018, Wingcrown terminated the initial deal due to the pair’s failure to meet the required progress payments.
At that point, the Li family had already disbursed over $1.2 million. The developer seized the $357,000 deposit along with additional sums and committed to returning the remaining balance of $838,354.42 to the purchasers.
Despite the termination, the father and daughter retained their interest in acquiring the property.
Following negotiations, Wingcrown extended a new Option to Purchase (OTP) for the property, priced at $1.9 million.
However, the developer encountered another obstacle as they did not receive the full payment, resulting in the termination of the second transaction.
Under the OTP’s terms, the pair were obligated to settle the remaining purchase price by June 26, 2018. The OTP clause allowed the vendor to forfeit “any deposit” should the purchasers fail to complete the transaction.
Despite numerous extensions and reminders, the transaction remained incomplete.
Wingcrown formally informed the pair of the OTP’s termination in a letter dated November 20, 2018.
The developer retained a total of $1,195,354.42, which included the $357,000 deposit from the first transaction and the $838,354.42 they would have otherwise refunded to the buyers.
Wingcrown ultimately sold the property to other buyers in April 2021.
On March 21, 2023, the pair dispatched a demand letter to Wingcrown, seeking the full sum’s return.
In April of the same year, just before the court hearing on Li’s application, the developer refunded S$488,957 to the family.
They specified that S$380,000 would be retained as a deposit, while the remaining S$320,000+ would be used to offset expenses and compensation related to terminating the two agreements.
Justice Kwek concurred that the developer had the legal right to retain the deposit. A substantial portion of the S$1.9 million price, 20%, amounted to S$380,000, which was considered a reasonable deposit amount.
He also affirmed that the developer could seek compensation for the expenses and losses incurred due to the failed transactions.
The court would subsequently calculate and determine the compensation amount, which the developer would then subtract from the remaining S$320,000+ before returning the balance to the father and daughter.
Property agent Liu Siyu sentenced to three years in jail for embezzlement
Notably, the property agent Liu Siyu, who was convicted of fraud and forgery and sentenced to three years in prison in March of the same year.
She was found to have used the embezzled funds to purchase luxury items from high-end brands like Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Louboutin.
Liu is not listed as a party in the current civil case.