‘I’d rather die than move’: Ontario senior couple say they felt pressured to sell family home

‘I’d rather die than move’: Ontario senior couple say they felt pressured to sell family home
This is why it came as such a shock to her daughter Maria Morgis when, out of the blue, nearly seven years ago, Henriques and her husband Fernando Henriques revealed the house had been sold.

“The house was not for sale,” Morgis said. “I didn’t know what to think. I was surprised.”

The Henriques’ said a real estate agent with Royal Lepage showed up at their home one day in February 2012 and handed Clarice an envelope containing an offer to purchase. With no intention to sell, the couple said the offer was ignored until the agent returned several days later. They said the house was then sold within hours.

Morgis said she believes her father felt pressured to sell.

“It was almost like she had control of his mind,” she said.

“He reasoned, ‘OK, if they’re offering me $725,000, I’ll just say $925,000’ because he thought it was such an outlandish number he would make her go away.”

Instead, after signing the contract, the deal was done.

Morgis said what upset her the most is that her father told her he asked the real estate agent, Shana Ditta, several times for a few days to consult with his children before finalizing.

“Up until then, I thought, ‘Well, it is what it is.’ I mean you shouldn’t have done this, but at that point, I thought, ‘Here is somebody that is really sharp and she took advantage of my parents, ” she said.

The family consulted a lawyer and refused to close on the home.

“They would not close and the buyer wished to enforce the contract to close, so we embroiled ourselves in a lawsuit that’s been dragging on for a number of years,” said Nicholas Macos, the family’s lawyer.

“If somebody went to your door and tried to sell you a hot water heater, you’d have a cooling off period to get out of that. But if someone comes to your door with a contract that signs you up to sell your home, curiously you don’t.”

As a result of the refusal to close, the buyer, Ashley Park Developments, launched a lawsuit against the couple.

The company’s statement of claim noted the Henriques’ “have refused to fulfill their obligations under the agreement.”

In the lawsuit, Ashley Park Developments also filed claims against Shana Ditta and Royal LePage. The claims alleged Ditta “knew or ought to have known that the property was not for sale and that Fernando Henriques and Clarice Henriques were not willing to sell and/or lacked the requisite capacity to convey the property.”

The developer also insisted it relied upon Ditta’s representation in proceeding with the sale and had not communicated with the owners directly.

However, in their statement of defence, Ditta and Royal LePage denied the allegations. The statement said the negotiations occurred over a three-day period and the family had several days to consider the offer and allow the children to see it.

It also said Clarice Henriques indicated that “they might be interested in selling the property,” but asked Ditta to return the next day after 4 p.m. “when her husband would be home.”

Ditta and Lepage noted the agent returned two days later, at which point, they claimed the Henriques’ “indicated that the amount of the offer was not acceptable” and that another agent had been by their home.

“The Henriques’ said they were comfortable signing back to the plaintiff at $895,000,” the statement read, and “they also said that they could not maintain the property for much longer as it was a lot of work for them.”

Morgis claimed her parents never intended to sell the property, were not competent to do so, and were pressured to sign the offer.

She noted her mother was 84 years old at the time and suffering from early onset dementia, while her father was not fluent in English.

As a result, RECO issued a warning to Ditta, noting, “In this specific situation, you failed to document the type of services you were providing to the sellers, and therefore caused your brokerage to contravene the REBA2002.”
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