Nightmare in Midrand

Having decided to buy a house that he could afford, Obed Phuma went along and paid a deposit.

But he had no idea that he would spend sleepless nights because of problems caused by the seller and his agent.

Phuma says he compromised on his dream house, but he still wanted maximum value for the money he was spending.

In January, Phuma says, he paid a deposit of R50000 to Wendy Mechanik Properties for a house worth R715000 in Midrand, Gauteng.

Wendy Mechanik Properties, the agent acting on behalf of the seller, told Phuma recently that they could not locate the seller and so could not finalise the deal.

This has naturally created uncertainly for Phuma, especially when the agent asked for additional money, which she claims were shortfalls on the purchase prices.

Phuma says two months after he agreed to buy the house the agent had demanded a further R25000.

"I agreed to pay the money when the agent said it was mistakenly omitted and that it would cover the bond transfer," Phuma says.

He says he was later told to pay R6350 to reconnect the electricity because the owner had not paid Eskom.

Phuma says the agent promised to refund the money but this has not happened yet.

Phuma, who lives in Switzerland, says he e-mailed the agent and asked for an occupational rent amount so that he could start paying.

But there was no response to his e-mail.

He says he returned to South Africa to ensure that his house is registered promptly but returned to Switzerland without the problem being sorted out.

Phuma says: "I was told that the owner of the house could not be traced and the contract documents were not signed."

But they kept demanding more money, he says.

"I received an e-mail from SA Mortgage and Wendy Mechanik Property saying there is a shortfall of R8 052,60," Phuma says.

"I don't believe this is how business is conducted.

"I think they are taking advantage of me because I am not in the country to look after my interests.

" I feel I am being taken for a ride."

He says he has spent a lot of money already and will not spend one cent more.

"I would like to cancel the deal and get all my money back and also get compensation for all the trouble I was put through," he says.

"This includes things such as my travel expenses from Switzerland to South Africa.

"I would also like to get back my deposit - with interest."

Last Monday Nimmi Kowlaser of Wendy Machanik Properties said she would respond to Phuma's complaint after discussing it with her management and marketing department.

She has not done so.

Phuma will now lodge his complaint with the Estate Agency Affairs Board.

In terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act clients must be compensated for certain acts or omissions by an estate agent.

The act empowers the Estate Agency Affairs Board to hold an inquiry and take disciplinary action against any estate agent who is found guilty of wrongful conduct.