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Equity Trustees staff going beyond the call of duty to help

Buying property off the plan doesn’t always go the way you expect. But when Anna’s property plans went awry, Equity Trustees stepped in.

When you buy a property, you usually buy a dream.

For Anna* that dream presented itself in the form of a brand new, off-the-plan Melbourne apartment.

The 66-year-old bought the unit in 2017 using money in an Equity Trustees-managed trust set up by her late mother.

“Her belief was that once she moved into this new unit, she would stay there for many years to come, as she aged,” says Trish Harvey, Trust Manager at Equity Trustees

Anna was told that by 2020, the apartment would be ready for her to move in.

“But since 2017, there were lots of delays. Then, COVID-19 hit and construction on the apartment block stalled. It wasn't expected that this off-the-plan unit would take so long to be built.”

Eventually, Anna was advised of a settlement date: September 2022. Equity Trustees arranged for the sale of Anna’s current property to coincide with the settlement date of her new property. 

Unfortunately, after she sold her home, she was notified that the new unit hadn’t settled. This left the elderly woman facing an accommodation and financial nightmare.

Given the unusual situation Anna found herself in, Equity Trustees staff went beyond the call of duty to help. 

Successful discussions with the purchasers of Anna’s current home led to the elderly woman being allowed to stay and pay rent. 

“Mind you, we had a property full of furniture, two cats and a dog, and a very anxious client,” Harvey says. “Each month, we are told by builders it was going to be finished that month and it wasn’t. There was just so much uncertainty.”

Eventually, the purchasers wanted to move into their property and Anna had to move out. Equity Trustees worked with external partners to pack and store her belongings, clean her apartment, organise boarding for her animals and make the many other arrangements needed to move house.

“We also had to find somewhere for her to live for an uncertain period of time. The only real option available was Airbnb as we didn’t know how long she would need temporary accommodation for.”

In April, the stalemate broke and Anna’s new unit settled. Anna’s story could have ended badly were it not for the dedication of Equity Trustees staff. 

“As a trust manager, we are only really responsible for the distribution of funds from her mother’s trust. If she'd been with another trust company, they would have just said ‘we will pay the bills and the rest is your responsibility’. But we really care about our clients and wanted to help.”

If Equity Trustees hadn’t assisted Anna the way it did, she would have had to organise everything herself using external companies. “I dread to think how much more it would have cost her or how much stress that would have added. 

“We are just grateful that it all worked out for her in the end. She’s now settled and happy.” 

More information about Equity Trustees’ trusts and estate planning services is available on our website.

* Name changed for privacy purposes.