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Real estate king Garth Barfoot moves days before slip takes out driveway



Garth Barfoot and wife Judy have swapped the large family home they built in the '50s for a two-bedroom unit in a retirement village, but real estate king is as active as ever.


Garth Barfoot and wife Judy have swapped the large family home they built in the ’50s for a two-bedroom unit in a retirement village, but real estate king is as active as ever.

Super athlete Garth Barfoot turns 87 this month and has only ever owned one house – a clifftop Beach Haven property he and wife Judy built back in the ‘70s.

So it was serendipitous the couple had just moved into an apartment in a retirement village when the big storm hit Auckland on Anniversary Weekend, causing a slip to take out part of the driveway.


Garth, patriarch of Barfoot & Thompson, the family real estate firm founded by his father 100 years ago, says a plumber was fixing a leak at the house on the Friday the storm hit. “It had already started to rain hard when he left at half-past four, just before a slip came down and completely blocked the driveway.

Garth and Judy Barfoot built their clifftop family home in Beach Haven in the 1970s (the only one they ever owned), paying $12,000 for the 3035sqm site, and $30,000 for the build. A slip took out the driveway during the Anniversary Weekend storm.

Garth and Judy Barfoot built their clifftop family home in Beach Haven in the 1970s (the only one they ever owned), paying $12,000 for the 3035sqm site, and $30,000 for the build. A slip took out the driveway during the Anniversary Weekend storm.

“I then suffered the indignity of having a council inspector come through the house. He couldn’t find anything wrong, so it was white-stickered. But we haven’t sold as we are still waiting for a retaining wall to be built. Being in real estate, I see the positive – we lost some trees down the cliff and there’s now a much better view.”

In the meantime veteran triathlete Garth and Judy have settled into their sixth-floor unit at Ryman Healthcare’s Bert Sutcliffe Retirement Village in Birkenhead – so they haven’t moved far. And Garth says they are thriving: “It’s like living in Buckingham Palace. I get up in the morning and pull back the blinds, and there’s the gardener sweeping leaves off the path.”


Bert Sutcliffe sales advisor Leanne O’Meara holds the unique position of being the first person to sell a property to the man synonymous with real estate – Garth Barfoot.

Bert Sutcliffe sales advisor Leanne O’Meara holds the unique position of being the first person to sell a property to the man synonymous with real estate – Garth Barfoot.

The couple has moved from a four-bedroom family home on a huge 3035m² section to a two-bedroom apartment, and is gradually dealing with everything that comes with downsizing.

They say they seldom have people to stay, so their spare room is not being used as a guest room – it’s for bike storage, and the balcony is a great place for cleaning Garth’s running shoes.


But they have kept the large family dining table they have used for decades. And Garth says they appreciate the fact that the cost of their unit was half the RV of their house, although the market slump will have affected the house value.

“In business, we found old people, when they sold, would invariably spend the same amount on a smaller, but more luxurious and modern [retirement] home, but you don’t need to.”

The couple have routines that determine the shape of the day – a first for Garth: “When I was working, nobody could sack me for being late for work, or not turning up, or taking too many holidays. But now, I’ve got this New York marathon in November to train for.


‘Time trial up to the Birkenhead shops’

“I do a time trial every day up to the Birkenhead shops where I have coffee, so I’m always trying to get faster, to get my BSA – Best Since Accident.”

The accident Garth is referring to was a broken hip – he had his fourth hip replacement, following a fall, just four months ago.

Long-distance events are nothing new for the octogenarian, however. Despite the accident, Garth completed the Auckland Half Marathon in early April, and the Round the Bays race in March, using a crutch.


Both Garth and Judy first entered triathlons 30 years ago. Garth even completed the London Marathon last year at the age of 85, and in December, at 86, he entered what he thought was a sprint triathlon in Abu Dhabi, but it turned out to be an Olympic triathlon. “I started the swim and thought it was taking me ages. I thought they must have made a mistake. I eventually crawled out of the water and got on the bike and again thought ‘Gee they’ve made the course long’.”

Having trained for a sprint triathlon Garth did not finish the Olympic-length triathlon and was disqualified.

But he has many other wins to his credit, including a silver medal in the sprint. And Garth has completed the Kona World Championship Ironman in Hawaii. When he was 77 he was the ITU Long Distance World Champion for his age group.


Garth says he felt ‘a bit self-conscious’ in the village at first as all his clothes “had running numbers on them’” The crutches were not an issue though.

“I was walking around with two crutches which is not unusual because there are a few people with walkers and sticks. What was unusual was when I was trying to run with them!”

Now he manages with a single stick, but you get the feeling even that is likely to go before long.

Because he is so busy with his own training for New York, Garth says he doesn’t do any activities at the village. “But I do enjoy the general socialising. People talk to you in the car park and the lift – or I talk to them. But activities? They’re for the future.”



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BCFSA rules on real estate agent’s $50K loan to client



A real estate agent who lent a client $50,000 so she could afford to make a deposit on a property in Richmond, B.C., committed professional misconduct by doing so, according to a provincial regulator.

The B.C. Financial Services Authority, which investigates real-estate-related complaints from members of the public, has concluded that Wei “Vicky” Wang’s loan constituted a conflict of interest, and that Wang had committed misconduct by failing to avoid the conflict and by failing to advise her client of it.

The BCFSA’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray issued his decision on the matter earlier this month. It was published online Wednesday.

In it, Pendray wrote that the evidence before him supported the conclusion that the $50,000 Wang provided was a loan, and thus a conflict, despite Wang’s arguments to the contrary.



Pendray’s decision came after hearings on the BCFSA’s fifth amended notice to Wang about the complaints against her from her former client.

All of the iterations of the notice centred on the client’s purchase of two homes – one in Richmond and one in Vancouver. Both addresses are redacted throughout the decision, as are the names of the client, her husband and other witnesses.

The loan related to the Richmond purchase, for which a contract of purchase and sale was executed on June 9, 2016, with a completion date scheduled for Oct. 4 of that year, according to the decision.

The agreed purchase price was $1,688,000, with a deposit of $90,000 – slightly more than five per cent of the total price.

Pendray’s decision indicates that Wang’s brokerage provided the BCFSA with two “receipt of funds records” relating to the deposit, one for $40,000 from the client’s account and one for $50,000 from Wang’s account.

The record for the $50,000 transaction included the note “loaning to the buyer temporarily,” according to the decision, and both Wang and the client acknowledged that Wang provided $50,000 toward the purchase of the Richmond property.


The real estate agent argued that the $50,000 she provided to her client should not be considered a loan because it wasn’t provided with the expectation of repayment with interest.

“When asked what she would call the $50,000 towards the (Richmond property) deposit, if it were not described as a loan, Ms. Wang indicated that she did not know, though she subsequently suggested that one could consider it to be a gift,” Pendray wrote in his decision.

“Ms. Wang stated that she and the client were friends, and that she had not thought much of providing the $50,000 at the time.”

Despite Wang’s suggestion that the money could be considered a gift, Pendray noted that she made efforts to secure repayment of it.

The money was wired back to Wang on June 29, 2016, after she and her client had exchanged WeChat messages about how and when she would be paid back, according to the decision.

In her defence, the decision indicates, Wang declined to say she had been repaid, insisting that the money had been “returned” in the same way one would return a car after borrowing it.

She also argued that the entire hearing had been unfair to her, submitting three times that it ought to be adjourned because the BCFSA had revised its allegations against her five times.


Pendray rejected all of these arguments, writing that Wang has “long known the nature of the allegations against her” and that there was “no unfairness in proceeding with the hearing.”

He concluded that both Wang and her client understood the $50,000 to be a loan, not a gift, and that Wang expected to be repaid.

“Even if I was to accept Ms. Wang’s submission that in order for the $50,000 to be considered a loan, it is necessary that the loan have been provided in exchange for future repayment plus something more, the facts of this case lead me to the conclusion that there was, in this case, something more,” Pendray wrote.

The chief hearing officer noted that Wang received a commission of $22,538.78 for her role in the transaction. She could not have received that amount, he concluded, if the client had backed out of the purchase for lack of funds.

“In order to receive that commission, the purchase of that property had to complete,” Pendray wrote. “In order for the purchase to ever have had the chance to reach completion, the deposit on the property, as required by the contract of purchase and sale, would have had to have been paid.”

Having concluded that Wang provided the client with a loan, Pendray determined that doing so was a conflict of interest under the provincial Real Estate Services Act, and that Wang had committed misconduct.

He ordered Wang and the BCFSA to make submissions on what sanctions Wang should face for her behaviour, with specific penalties to be determined at a later date.



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Luxe $9m South Yarra sanctuary for sale with six-car basement garage



The South Yarra property feels very secluded, every with its proximity to Chapel Street.

A winning collaboration by some of the best in the business has produced this luxurious modern sanctuary in a prized lifestyle location.

High-end builder Agushi teamed with celebrated Workroom architects and Nathan Burkett Landscape Architects on the private inner-city residence.

The four-bedroom, five-bathroom house at 12 Rockley Rd, South Yarra has hit the market with a $9m-$9.5m asking price.


Largely crafted from concrete – which even features on the sculptural curved staircase that links the home’s three levels – and marble, it delivers sophisticated interiors with carefully framed garden views.

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When at home, a mirrored lift, infinity pool with in-floor cleaning and a six-car basement garage provide the ultimate in convenience.

But it is the state-of-the-art automation that paves the way for a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.

The technology has been a game-changer for vendor and interior designer Georgie Coombe-Tennant and her husband, Mark.

It has transformed the way they live, doing away with the need for front door keys and allowing them to turn on the oven remotely, let the postie in the gate while sitting on a ski lift or turn on the sprinkler from Europe.

A skylight runs from the outdoor entertainment area into the dining room.

Grey Damastas marble is paired with chocolate toned timber in the kitchen.

The curved concrete staircase is a standout feature of the home.

“We had always had old traditional homes and renovated them, and we just felt like it was time for something modern,” Mrs Coombe-Tennant said.

“We saw Bear (Agushi’s) work and my expression for his work is that everything is so resolved.

“He has not left a single detail out of it. If you think of something you would need in a home it’s there.”

She has delighted in decorating the home, which she said offers loads of space despite having a townhouse feel.

“I found the home is so easy decorate and furnish because you have got this beautiful blank canvas and you can put any amount of colour or neutrality into in,” she said.

As well as three living areas and four bedrooms, the two-year-old home has the luxury of two home offices with desks crafted of the same grey Damastas marble that features in the lavish kitchen and bathrooms.

There’s a sense of privacy once you’re inside the gate.

Enjoy pool views from the main living room.

Gather around the sunken seating area.

The main open-plan living zone screams entertainer thanks to a series of full height sliding doors linking it to a covered outdoor dining space with a built-in barbecue, a conversation pit and north-facing sun deck.

A second ground floor lounge room provides another breakout space, perfect for curling up beside the fire.

Despite its proximity to Chapel St and Toorak Village, Mrs Coombe-Tennant said the home felt secluded.

“I guess with South Yarra people are always worried about noise and things like that but it’s very, very quiet, it’s really secretive. No one knows it’s here,” she said.

“Once we are in that front door you don’t hear a single sound, but you have got everything on your doorstep.”

It’s wall to wall marble in this bathroom.

The garage can accommodate six cars.

Built-in desks feature in both home offices.

RT Edgar Toorak director Sarah Case added that it was rare to find homes of this calibre created specifically for a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.

“This home has every luxury we’ve come to expect from Agushi, who’s renowned solid concrete construction, superior quality, generous spaces and meticulous attention to detail, while providing for a modern way of living with a lift to all levels, stunning pool and six-car garage,” Ms Case said.

“From the magnificent marble kitchen to the beautiful bedrooms and the poolside outdoor spaces, every aspect has been thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of even the most discerning buyer.”

Mr Agushi said he prided himself on building homes with “over specced” insulation, glazing, solar panels and smart home integration.

Expressions of interest close on June 15 at 5pm.

According the latest Proptrack Home Price Index, national home prices continued to stabilise in April after rising for the fourth consecutive month, rising 0.14 per cent.


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LACKIE: Busy Spring in Toronto Real Estate



This has been a busy, bustling spring for the Toronto real estate market.

There are people who will say it’s all an illusion. A perfectly coordinated dance between snake oil selling realtors and their greedy clients, all unified in pumping a market currently back on its heels as means of personal enrichment.

How does that saying go — never let the truth get in the way of a good story?

They will say it makes no sense that the market should have any signs of life at all given the rollercoaster of the last 18 months (slash, the three years since COVID, if we’re being honest) and that with rates high and staying there, and prices still high and mostly staying there, we are looking at the furthest thing from a healthy marketplace.


And perhaps it’s all relative — things feel particularly energized because in comparison to last fall, we are actually seeing some action out there.

Houses in dodgy pockets fetching upwards of 20 offers, buyers seemingly undeterred by the needles on the street just steps away from the front door.

Cute houses in great pockets drawing multiple offers and landing peak-of-2022 prices.

Sellers who may have wondered if the time-was-now realizing they didn’t want to miss their moment.

There are many utterly baffled that the market has held. That prices have held. That the pain of 2022 didn’t reset the playing field.

They are adamant that any attempt to explain it by pointing to how grossly insufficient our inventory levels are is really just distortion and manipulation. The idea somehow being that people can be scammed into engaging and thus what we are really looking at is a mirage.

They think our problems will be solved if buyers simply stay home. Refuse to show up to houses that are underlisted. Refuse to engage in multiple offers. Refuse to pay a dollar more than list price. Refuse to pay realtor fees. Refuse to participate.

Legislate agents into listing at market value. Legally obligate sellers to accept any offer that meets the price they chose to list at. Cap realtor fees. The list goes on.

Absent from all of this is the reality very much apparent on the ground: for all of the noise and anger, Toronto has not enough houses and more than enough willing participants who are capable of driving a marketplace.

By this time next week, we will have stats to support that the spring market is very much here and with it I expect we will note a sharp increase in transactions and a notable bump to average sale prices.

Is it a seasonal blip that will fizzle out as temperatures rise? Entirely possible. But even just a return to some seasonal rhythms in our marketplace would be a welcome return to normalcy.


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