I Want My Home Back

Neil Jenman - Don't Sign AnythingOPINION
by Neil Jenman
Consumer Advocate

Mentally ill man begs for help.

An article from the Jenman website.

Malua Bay is a coastal town, four hours south of Sydney. In a quiet street, about 150 metres from the beach, sits a two-bedroom home.

The owner of the home is Michael, a 52-year-old man suffering from severe depression.

In November last year, because his health was deteriorating, Michael considered selling his home.

Enter Carlene Franzen, a local real estate agent.

Carlene and her husband Fred Franzen operate the local Century 21 franchise. Carlene’s son Tom Franzen also works in the agency. So does Tom Franzen’s partner, Melissa. It’s a family affair.

Although similar homes have reportedly sold for up to $350,000, Michael’s home was listed for sale with Century 21 Franzen for $299,000.

Carlene Franzen was aware of Michael’s mental health problem. As a professed Christian, she promised to pray for him.

Nothing happened for two months and then, in mid-January, Carlene Franzen called and said that a young couple wanted to inspect Michael’s home.

To his surprise, Michael later discovered that the young couple was Carlene Franzen’s son, Tom Franzen and his partner, Melissa.

After the inspection, Carlene Franzen told Michael that his home was not that good because it was only fibro. Also, the veranda didn’t meet council requirements.

The young couple made an offer of $260,000. The offer was later increased to $269,000. Carlene said the young couple could not afford to pay more.

“I was feeling under pressure and was close to hitting the wall,” said Michael. But Carlene managed to persuade him to sign the sale contract. Among the legal papers was a “disclosure” document saying that the buyers were Franzen family members.

Later, when he realised what had happened, Michael went to the real estate office to plead with Carlene to cancel the sale. She refused to budge and told Michael that “the kids are over the moon about the sale”.

On Sunday February 19, having not eaten for six days, Michael collapsed and was admitted to Bateman’s Bay Hospital.

Alarmed at the state of his mental health, Michael’s ex-wife contacted Carlene Franzen telling her that Michael was in no condition to sign financial documents. “That’s not my problem,” Carlene reportedly replied.

Friends of Michael’s have written to Carlene Franzen asking her to arrange for her son and his partner to cancel the contract. Michael wants his home back. Franzen has ignored them.

“This is the lowest point of my whole life,” said a shattered Michael yesterday. Pray for him? He feels more like the agent’s prey.

Michael’s lawyer said, “The agents are in clear breach of their fiduciary duty to their client.”

Century 21 Franzen’s marketing material says, “We will act with integrity, honesty and openness in everything we do together.”

A brochure given to Michael by Carlene Franzen before he placed his home for sale says, “Our sales and marketing techniques are geared to achieve the best possible price.”

Yes, but it doesn’t say who gets the best price. As the buyers, it’s easy to see why Tom Franzen and Melissa are “over the moon”.

When asked for a comment yesterday, Carlene Franzen said, “I can’t discuss this. I will contact my solicitor.”

She then hung up.

Come on Franzen family. Stop preying on the mentally ill.

Give Michael his home back.

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