Rainbow Joint Ventures (RJV) is demanding potential buyers cough up an extra $20,000 for home construction plans in the Rainbow neighbourhood before they sell resident-restricted lots.
The Whistler Housing Authority has not agreed to the extra charges because the owner cannot recoup the cost when they resell the property. According to WHA regulations, homeowners can only sell the lots for what they paid, plus the price of inflation, but because the plans are outside of the lot price homeowners would be unable to recoup the $20,000 once the house was resold.
"We've given our position very clearly back to the Rainbow developers and owners that we will not be approving any purchase agreements that come through with the additional $20,000 attached to it for the land price because the price for the land or the lots was stipulated in the zoning," said Marla Zucht, general manager of the WHA.
"That price was fixed, so for Rainbow (RJV) to try to ask for additional $20,000, we will not approve those contracts," she added.
The plots are supposed to cost $110,000 as stipulated in municipal Bylaw 303, Section J. Zucht noted that house designs usually cost between $10,000 and $12,000, with added costs for custom designs. If RJV charges for the development plans and the owner doesn't use those plans, they'll have to pay for yet another set.
"We don't want the purchaser to have to get dinged twice for the house design costs," Zucht said.
Wendy Barker and Tony Bachler had hoped to purchase one of the lots back in November but when they submitted their offer, their real estate agent said that RJV owner, Luis Garcia, demanded that they pay an extra $20,000 for the building plans.
"I made it quite clear that I wasn't going to pay," Barker said because the wanted to go ahead with another house design for the land. Their offer was promptly rejected.
Two weeks later, Barker and Bachler gave another offer but their agent returned once again and said that the lots had been pulled off the market.
"He said there were problems with the lots..." Barker said. "Now, they're not going to get their money for it, they're going to pull it off the market.
Said Bachler: "If things change, we'd be willing to look at it again. But there's some shenanigans going on there. It's unfortunate.
"I think the bottom line is they're in over their head and they're trying to recoup some money any way they can. They realize that the way they were going to make money was by selling the market lots and now they're not."
Barker, dismayed by what was happening, approached the WHA, which prompted Zucht to write Garcia in an email, "... WHA will NOT approve any Purchase Agreement that includes a subject condition that a purchaser enter into a separate agreement with Rainbow for the purchase of Rainbow house designs (for any price), or that includes the purchase of the Rainbow house designs as part of the Purchase Agreement...."
When Pique reached Garcia for comment earlier, he said: "Rainbow (RJV) sells homes, not land."
He repeated this several times before declining further comment.
Zucht said this situation is not normal for Whistler nor has it been common practice for resident-restricted purchasing and construction in the past. WHA and RDC never agreed to the added $20,000.
The lots are only resident-restricted once RDC sells them. Until then, RJV owns the land and can do what it wants with them.
"There's no requirement for them to sell. They could just sit on them if they wanted to," Zucht said.
One lot has been sold with the additional $20,000 housing plans, which was negotiated in a side agreement with the developer. The remaining lots are still off the market.