“I want my money back”
Nick Brackstone and his family are devastated.
They say they have been ‘conned’ by the controversial home buying business. Display Partners, that has been causing chaos with many island ‘investors’.
“We were duped into handing over $9020 to Display Partners after we listened to a bloke by the name of Zac Mar.
“He promised us the world and then nothing after we handed over the deposit.
“Ever since it has just been a nightmare,” Nick Brackstone told The Friendly Bay Islander.
The Brackstone family story started with the purchase of a block of land in James Street, Russell Island, several years ago.
“Unfortunately, it was at a time when land prices on the island were at their highest.
“We didn’t know what to do about it until a friend recommended we speak with Denise Taylor at LJ Hooker on Russell Island.
“She introduced us to a man by the name of Zac Mar.
“He seemed to be the answer to our prayer.
“Mar suggested that with our equity we could do four builds with a line of credit that would be interest only.
“He said he and Display Partners would ‘do everything’.
“It would allow us to build a home on our block and that the loan would only cost $125 per week and they would rent it back for $325 per week for three years, and all we had to do was to give them a deposit of $9020.
“He made it sound so easy and exciting and it was the answer to all our problems,” Nick said.
It wasn’t till later that Nick and his family realised that paying a deposit first up was not really the way business of this type is done.
“We didn’t think until later that in the case of mortgage brokers and the like, the commission comes out when the transaction is done and the funding is in place and confirmed.”
Nick received a hand written tax invoice from Zac Mar dated August 31, 2016, with a Display Partners letterhead.
It listed five elements including three than involved the deposit of $7000 for a house package of $230,000; surveying costs of $600; soil and permeability costs of $600. GST of $820 was added.
The other two points listed were Display Partners to rent back house at $320 pw for 3 years with no C.I. increases and a line of credit loan to be established interest only.
Nick enthusiastically made out the check and handed it over.
He and his wife (who does not want to be named) then got their daughter involved.
Nick continued: “Zac Mar promised to negotiate a deal where our daughter would pay a $50,000 deposit and on payment, Display Partners would tell the financiers they had received a $100,000 deposit.
“Our daughter had handed over $25,000 and we suddenly realised that things were amiss and she asked for it back after 5 days when she had been warned by her brother and others that this was a ‘shonky’ arrangement.
After some protracted time, she finally got her money back.
That was when the enthusiasm for Display Partners came to an end.
“Ever since, it has been a case of chase, chase chase
“We were promised pre approval and other things, but nothing ever happened, and I don’t think anything has actually happened for anyone else either,” Nick Brackstone said.
“We were warned by others.”
With other silly claims made by Mar including that they would include on their finance application that a family member was employed by Display Partners at $150 per week, they wanted out.
It has been a tussle ever since.
Finally, six months later, they received a letter on March 3 that they would be ‘repaid’ but only after ‘costs’ had been deducted.
These amounted to $6810 which included tree removals, buying home plans, soil tests, land surveying, consultancy fees and a supposed $1200 loan by Mar (another long story).
From the $9200 they handed over, the Brackstones were told they would be offered just $2230.
Nick Brackstone says the only costs he would probably concede were the tree removal and the soil tests.
“The work was not completed on the block clearing and the soil test price is higher than was quoted.
“As for the house plans, I dispute this totally. We have never seen any and we have never been consulted on anything relating to siting, size, style, building etc.
“As for consultancy fees, these should not be charged for obtaining finance unless advised before hand. We have never met a broker nor been advised finance has been approved, and they made fraudulent and wrong claims on the finance application.”
“It is all just a con and it is not only us,” Nick added.
He told the story of another island friend who has recently been widowed who handed over around $140,000 to Display Partners.
“She is at her wits end and has gone into emotional decline.
“It was her sole inheritance and she is a grieving widow.”
Nick Brackstone believes that LJ Hooker on Russell Island is culpable in what Display Partners are doing.
“We confronted them on several occasions.
“They had Display Partners material in their window at one stage.
“However, when we went down to photograph it, the material had been removed.
“We have reported them to LJ Hooker nationally.
“They have been feeding people to Display Partners and Zac Mar,” Nick Brackstone said.
“I know they have applied pressure to other people to keep quiet.
“I am standing up because they need to be stopped,” Nick concluded.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE DISPLAY PARTNERS METHOD
The Display Partners method of endeavouring to sell property and new homes to island investors, is flawed on several levels.
In theory it is possible to sell a package that is aimed at investors who can afford to be involved and can see an opportunity to own investment property.
What is not right or legal is to try to entice people into such a scheme that is totally aimed at securing a ‘deposit’ before any work has been carried out; and that is clearly the focus of Display Partners.
A host of island investors have handed over big deposits before:
1. Any land has been secured and transferred into their name;
2. Any finance has been secured on the client’s behalf;
3. Any plans have been produced and passed for construction;
4. Any hint of building timetable and occupation has been produced.
Many islanders have handed over large deposits, seemingly based on what Display Partners feel they can get out of them, with nothing more than a promise
The promise sounds great: no worries, she’ll be right, trust me!
What could be better than a new home with big rent for three years and promises being made to vulnerable people, many of whom have tried to obtain finance for island property investment before, and have been declined.
If a business were legitimate in the activities of helping people to get into investment property, fees would be taken only AFTER all that had been promised, had come to fruition.
And that would be when the finance had been obtained which can only happen when all approvals have been put in place and work on the project completed.
Display Partners hand out a skimpy hand-written ‘invoice’ with vague promises and little detail.
There is an old, old story that is definitely true.
“If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!”