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Dispute over sale disclosures

Two property buyers in Eketāhuna claim they were misled about Meridian Energy’s proposed wind farm pitched for the hill behind their houses.

However, Harcourts, Hamill Realty says its agent made all necessary disclosures in the course of closing the sales.

John Maxwell bought land on Hall Rd in Hastwell, Mt Munro at the end of 2021 and moved onsite in his campervan shortly after. He spent 2022 planning a new build, which involved relocating a house from Hawke’s Bay, contracting an architect, and making resource and building consent applications.

The day before his building consent arrived in December last year, Maxwell’s neighbour visited to talk about Meridian’s project, which was the first Maxwell had heard of the proposed development.

Maxwell said he got an information flier from Meridian with information on the proposed wind farm the next day.

“I um-ed and ah-ed but knew that the house I’d bought wouldn’t be suitable if the wind farm went ahead,” Maxwell said. “So I had to cancel it.”

Maxwell estimated he was out of pocket about $15,000 after calling off his development plans due to the house deposit, architect fees and a percentage of the council permit fees.

When reflecting on whether the proposed wind farm had been mentioned by the real estate agent before he purchased the property, Maxwell said at one point she had gestured to the south – the opposite direction to the proposed site – and had said “They were talking about a wind farm somewhere”.

“If she’d turned 180 degrees, she would have been facing the Mt Munro ridge where the proposed site actually is,” Maxwell said.

“Something like the wind farm should have been notified in writing.” Maxwell said.

“Something like the wind farm should have been notified in writing.”

Handwritten on Maxwell’s purchase agreement was “Genesis Energy has an interest in a wind farm on the neighbouring hill”, something he said is misleading.

“When you look up Genesis and wind farm, you get pointed towards the Castle Hill wind farm, which is a different development.”

The Castle Hill wind farm is a development proposed by Genesis for a site 20km east of Eketahuna and Pahiatua, which already has resource consent.

Should the Meridian wind farm proceed, Maxwell said any future building plans of his would need to account for acoustic deadening and strategic orientation.

Feeling like he was misled, Maxwell was told the lawyer who oversaw his settlement couldn’t assist as she also acts for Harcourts, which would raise a conflict of interest.

Maxwell said he feels like his only option moving forward is to go through the Real Estate Authority [REA] and the disputes tribunal.

Maxwell is not alone in his situation, with another recent Mt Munro buyer [who preferred to remain anonymous] also contacted the Times-Age.

She only bought her property at the end of September this year and said the first time she learnt of Meridian’s plans was a Times-Age story printed about a week after the sale papers were signed.

The resident claimed a wind farm had been “vaguely mentioned” by the real estate agent as a Genesis project, which prompted her to email local councils and try to do her own research before making an offer.

“I didn’t hear anything back from councils, and nothing came up on Google except the Castle Hill wind farm, which isn’t close to the property,” she said.

“I bought this property to have nice, quiet, beautiful views of the countryside, with all the native birds and everything that’s there at the moment.”

Similar to Maxwell, the agent had handwritten on the resident’s purchase documentation that “Genesis had an interest in doing a wind farm on the neighbouring farm behind the subject property”.

After speaking to Meridian earlier this month, the resident said the power company confirmed to her that it notified Harcourts about the wind farm proposal in May 2021.

Should the proposal go ahead, the closest turbine to her property will be 750m away.

If she had known about the proposal, the resident said she would not have made the decision to buy her property in this location.

“I’m doing up my house, but what value will it be now to anyone but me?” the resident asked.

“We all buy our houses by working hard, we are able to choose where we live. This was meant to be a clean slate, now I have this legal hole to dig myself out of. It’s a nightmare.”

The Times-Age approached Harcourts Wairarapa managing director and auctioneer Prue Hamill with a number of questions about the claims of the two property purchasers, including whether Meridian had advised her company about the proposed development, and if her agent had informed the prospective purchasers about this.

Seven working days after the questions were posed, Hamill replied that the necessary disclosures were made by Harcourts’ agent.

“I have reviewed the matter and have satisfied myself that the requisite disclosures were made regarding the wind farm proposal,” Hamill’s full response said.

Meridian’s head of renewable energy development Rebecca Knott said property deals are a matter between real estate agents and their clients, and declined to confirm whether the company had informed Harcourts of its proposed wind farm development in mid-2021.

The Real Estate Authority NZ’s principles of disclosure state that “a licensee must not mislead a customer or client, nor provide false information, nor withhold information that should by law or in fairness be provided to a customer or client”.

The authority also recommends that prospective buyers check the neighbourhood beforehand, talk to neighbours, and contact councils to ask about any new developments. Maxwell said.

“Something like the wind farm should have been notified in writing.”

Handwritten on Maxwell’s purchase agreement was “Genesis Energy has an interest in a wind farm on the neighbouring hill”, something he said is misleading.

“When you look up Genesis and wind farm, you get pointed towards the Castle Hill wind farm, which is a different development.”

The Castle Hill wind farm is a development proposed by Genesis for a site 20km east of Eketahuna and Pahiatua, which already has resource consent.

Should the Meridian wind farm proceed, Maxwell said any future building plans of his would need to account for acoustic deadening and strategic orientation.

Feeling like he was misled, Maxwell was told the lawyer who oversaw his settlement couldn’t assist as she also acts for Harcourts, which would raise a conflict of interest.

Maxwell said he feels like his only option moving forward is to go through the Real Estate Authority [REA] and the disputes tribunal.

Maxwell is not alone in his situation, with another recent Mt Munro buyer [who preferred to remain anonymous] also contacted the Times-Age.

She only bought her property at the end of September this year and said the first time she learnt of Meridian’s plans was a Times-Age story printed about a week after the sale papers were signed.

The resident claimed a wind farm had been “vaguely mentioned” by the real estate agent as a Genesis project, which prompted her to email local councils and try to do her own research before making an offer.

“I didn’t hear anything back from councils, and nothing came up on Google except the Castle Hill wind farm, which isn’t close to the property,” she said.

“I bought this property to have nice, quiet, beautiful views of the countryside, with all the native birds and everything that’s there at the moment.”

Similar to Maxwell, the agent had handwritten on the resident’s purchase documentation that “Genesis had an interest in doing a wind farm on the neighbouring farm behind the subject property”.

After speaking to Meridian earlier this month, the resident said the power company confirmed to her that it notified Harcourts about the wind farm proposal in May 2021.

Should the proposal go ahead, the closest turbine to her property will be 750m away.

If she had known about the proposal, the resident said she would not have made the decision to buy her property in this location.

“I’m doing up my house, but what value will it be now to anyone but me?” the resident asked.

“We all buy our houses by working hard, we are able to choose where we live. This was meant to be a clean slate, now I have this legal hole to dig myself out of. It’s a nightmare.”

The Times-Age approached Harcourts Wairarapa managing director and auctioneer Prue Hamill with a number of questions about the claims of the two property purchasers, including whether Meridian had advised her company about the proposed development, and if her agent had informed the prospective purchasers about this.

Seven working days after the questions were posed, Hamill replied that the necessary disclosures were made by Harcourts’ agent.

“I have reviewed the matter and have satisfied myself that the requisite disclosures were made regarding the wind farm proposal,” Hamill’s full response said.

Meridian’s head of renewable energy development Rebecca Knott said property deals are a matter between real estate agents and their clients, and declined to confirm whether the company had informed Harcourts of its proposed wind farm development in mid-2021.

The Real Estate Authority NZ’s principles of disclosure state that “a licensee must not mislead a customer or client, nor provide false information, nor withhold information that should by law or in fairness be provided to a customer or client”.

The authority also recommends that prospective buyers check the neighbourhood beforehand, talk to neighbours, and contact councils to ask about any new developments. Handwritten on Maxwell’s purchase agreement was “Genesis Energy has an interest in a wind farm on the neighbouring hill”, something he said is misleading.

“When you look up Genesis and wind farm, you get pointed towards the Castle Hill wind farm, which is a different development.”

The Castle Hill wind farm is a development proposed by Genesis for a site 20km east of Eketāhuna and Pahiatua, which already has resource consent.

Should the Meridian wind farm proceed, Maxwell said any future building plans of his would need to account for acoustic deadening and strategic orientation.

Feeling like he was misled, Maxwell was told the lawyer who oversaw his settlement couldn’t assist as she also acts for Harcourts, which would raise a conflict of interest.

Maxwell said he feels like his only option moving forward is to go through the Real Estate Authority [REA] and the disputes tribunal.

Maxwell is not alone in his situation, with another recent Mt Munro buyer [who preferred to remain anonymous] also contacted the Times-Age.

She only bought her property at the end of September this year and said the first time she learnt of Meridian’s plans was a Times-Age story printed about a week after the sale papers were signed.

The resident claimed a wind farm had been “vaguely mentioned” by the real estate agent as a Genesis project, which prompted her to email local councils and try to do her own research before making an offer.

“I didn’t hear anything back from councils, and nothing came up on Google except the Castle Hill wind farm, which isn’t close to the property,” she said.

“I bought this property to have nice, quiet, beautiful views of the countryside, with all the native birds and everything that’s there at the moment.”

Similar to Maxwell, the agent had handwritten on the resident’s purchase documentation that “Genesis had an interest in doing a wind farm on the neighbouring farm behind the subject property”.

After speaking to Meridian earlier this month, the resident said the power company confirmed to her that it notified Harcourts about the wind farm proposal in May 2021.

Should the proposal go ahead, the closest turbine to her property will be 750m away.

If she had known about the proposal, the resident said she would not have made the decision to buy her property in this location.

“I’m doing up my house, but what value will it be now to anyone but me?” the resident asked.

“We all buy our houses by working hard, we are able to choose where we live. This was meant to be a clean slate, now I have this legal hole to dig myself out of. It’s a nightmare.”

The Times-Age approached Harcourts Wairarapa managing director and auctioneer Prue Hamill with a number of questions about the claims of the two property purchasers, including whether Meridian had advised her company about the proposed development, and if her agent had informed the prospective purchasers about this.

Seven working days after the questions were posed, Hamill replied that the necessary disclosures were made by Harcourts’ agent.

“I have reviewed the matter and have satisfied myself that the requisite disclosures were made regarding the wind farm proposal,” Hamill’s full response said.

Meridian’s head of renewable energy development Rebecca Knott said property deals are a matter between real estate agents and their clients, and declined to confirm whether the company had informed Harcourts of its proposed wind farm development in mid-2021.

The Real Estate Authority NZ’s principles of disclosure state that “a licensee must not mislead a customer or client, nor provide false information, nor withhold information that should by law or in fairness be provided to a customer or client”.

The authority recommends that prospective buyers check the neighbourhood beforehand, talk to neighbours, and contact councils to ask about any new developments.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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