A dispute over an alleged real estate flip has landed a B.C. family in court.
Gary McNeal, a building contractor and roofer, claims that in June 2014, he and his stepdaughter, Shannon Lorraine, agreed to participate in a “flip” regarding a waterfront property in Maple Ridge.
The property at 20194 Wharf St. is located on the Fraser River and at the time of the purchase had a dilapidated house that could be renovated, says McNeal’s notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court. It represented a “ripe opportunity” for those involved in flipping real estate, adds the suit.
When he first approached Lorraine with the opportunity, his stepdaughter, who he had known and helped raise since she was eight, decided not to participate but later changed her mind, says the lawsuit.
They agreed to have him focus on renovating the house and improving the property and her handle all applications for financing, says the suit.
All financial benefits would be split evenly and upon selling the property, profits would be distributed in equal parts, subject to any “over-contributions” which would be reimbursed before profits were disbursed, it says.
Lorraine informed McNeal that given his status as a self-employed person and his credit history, they would be charged a higher interest rate if they applied jointly for financing; as a result, she proposed that she become the registered owner with her holding his half interest in the property in trust for him, says the lawsuit.
In September 2014 the property was purchased for $347,500. In December 2016, when Lorraine decided to move to Vancouver Island, the two decided to sell the property; on April 12, 2017, it was sold for $865,000, says McNeal’s suit.
“Having reposed his complete faith in his stepdaughter, Mr. McNeal disproportionately contributed to the property’s improvements, as a result of which it was sold for net proceeds exceeding the sum of $490,000.” McNeal claims in his suit that Lorraine has refused to deliver his share of the profits.
He’s seeking an injunction to restrain her disposition of assets and a declaration that he is a holder of an equitable interest in any properties she has acquired with his funds in addition to general, punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages.
In a response filed in court, Lorraine denies McNeal’s allegations and says she bought the property with the intention that it would become her residence.
“The property was not purchased with a view to ‘flipping’ it,” she says in her response.
Lorraine, an administrative assistant, says McNeal does not hold a “beneficial” interest in the property and there was no agreement with respect to sharing expenses, profits or losses equally regarding the property.
She says she hasn’t breached any contract with McNeal, did not own the property subject to a trust in favour of him and does not owe him a fiduciary duty as alleged.
“The defendant has not been unjustly enriched as alleged or at all,” says her response. “The plaintiff has not sustained any loss, damage or expense caused by the defendant as alleged, or at all.”
Lorraine says she was reluctant to take on the level of financing required to purchase the property but was encouraged to do so by McNeal, and claims McNeal informed her that he would help her if necessary.