The liquidator is part way through the long process of wrapping up the Unique Estate mess. The ATO is the biggest creditor after the collapse of the leading Australian boutique estate agency. It ceased trading earlier this year with PPB recently appointed a liquidator. BMW Leasing is the second highest of the known creditors, owed $351,000. Express Commission Australia was owed $180,000, among the 27 creditors owned a $1.6 million total. This last group is mainly unpaid staff, lost deposits from sellers and unpaid rental from property management.
It was February when McGrath Nicol had been initially appointed joint managers by the NSW Department of Fair Trading with staff getting an email from its founder informing them of the agency collapse. Real estate agency trust fund fraud (not yet proven in this case) is a serious allegation. The most an agent has ever received for this malfeasance is three years in jail.
Unique Estate’s founder and principal, Nicolette Wijngaarten is in Sydney and awaiting court proceedings. No reason was given for the collapse, but the sale of trophy home properties have slowed to a crawl across Australia, amid low vendor listings.
The Domain website indicated the team at Unique Estates had sold 19 properties in the last 12 months, with an average sale price of $2.6 million. The team sold 17 houses and 2 blocks of land and rural properties by private treaty. These properties were on the market for an average of 341 days.
Last September, van Wijngaarden noted the biggest challenge facing her market was government restrictions on foreign buyers. The highest recorded sale price was $4.3 million for 12 Brownell Drive, Byron Bay, a 2-bedroom house which sold by private treaty on last November having been on the market for 230 days.
All of the Unique Estate agencies have been dissolved – Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, Hong Kong. The two selling agents previously with Unique, Gary Brazenor and Denzil Lloyd, are now working with Bangalow Real Estate, where Mary O’Connor, is the principal.