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10 September 2002

Holiday Seminars

Lucky you didn’t lose a lot more!

My husband and I went on a holiday to the Gold Coast in April. We attended a seminar on investing in real estate. We signed a contract for an investment property in a new estate. After the cooling off period we changed our minds because we felt the amount we needed to borrow ($250,000) outstripped our earning capacity which was only $40,000 as total income.

We didn’t feel comfortable with this idea.

Fortunately the builder was happy to refund our deposit of $1,500 because he had other buyers in the wings. However the solicitors handling refunds on behalf of the builder are renowned for taking months to come through with people’s money. We are still waiting.

I haven’t spoken to the solicitor concerned. Do we have to continue waiting for them to refund our money? The contract was drawn up in Queensland. I plan to speak to the solicitors first. If they are unwilling to meet my demands where do I go from here?

Looking forward to hearing from you.


You are very lucky. From the few details you have given, I estimate you came close to losing between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars. On your income, that would have set you back many years.

Thousands of consumers have lost billions (yes, that’s right, BILLIONS of dollars) in real estate scams in Australia. And, despite all the statements from the real estate industry and the state governments it is still going on.

It seems that you almost fell victim to a new scam. Instead of an over-priced apartment, the latest trick is the house and land ‘package’ where the costs are similarly loaded so that you pay between twenty and fifty thousand dollars (perhaps even more) above the real value.

As for your $1,500 deposit, chances are almost certain that you are involved with one of the shonky solicitors who are ‘in bed’ with the shonky real estate advisers.

Be firm with them. Threaten to complain to the Law Society. If that doesn’t do any good, tell them you are going to contact a solicitor called Tim O’Dwyer. He is feared by the shonky solicitors and he will spring into action to help you. His e-mail address is

Neil Jenman.

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