Barry Klatt

Barry Klatt

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Man slapped with $600,000 in damages after backing out on deal to buy Vancouver home

A recent British Columbia Supreme Court case is likely to make potential buyers think twice before backing out of a deal to buy a home.

A judge this week ordered a Vancouver man who backed out of a deal to purchase a home to pay $614,000 in damages.

That man, Christopher Gulston, already lost his $105,000 deposit on the West Vancouver home in a ruling last year by the same judge, Justice Linda Loo. Gulston had said he backed out in 2008 due to several reasons, including soil contamination cleaned up about less than a week after an agreed upon date.

But after Gulston backed out of the deal to buy the home for $1.57 million, the owner, Susan Aldred, had already committed to purchasing another property, and had the soil cleaned, thus leaving her owning two properties and in more than $1.6 million of debt. Aldred eventually sold her property, but for $570,000 less than what Gulston had agreed to pay for it.

The overall ruling by Loo included $20,000 for mental distress.

“(Gulston) knew that she was relying on the proceeds of sale from her house to finance the purchase of her new house,” wrote Loo in the ruling.

To make ends meet, Aldred said she and her young children share a bedroom and rented the remaining rooms to boarders.

Loo said Aldred also lost her business and had her credit rating damaged due to the deal collapsing. She’s now trying to sell her current property and expects to incur a loss.

The property was on Mathers Avenue, a street which offers plenty $1 million-plus homes, some with ocean views.


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