Juniper locked in legal battle over luxury penthouse

A REAL estate salesman convinced a client that a luxury penthouse apartment was worth $16.85 million because a similar apartment nearby sold for $20 million.

The buyer believed him and didn't check the salesman's claims.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard on Wednesday that the $20 million apartment had not sold but was only on the market for that price.

A discussion with a real estate salesman is the crux of a legal argument between entrepreneur Carmelo Caltabiano and development company Juniper Property Holdings over the sale of a Gold Coast penthouse apartment.

Juniper, which developed Oceans in Mooloolaba, is suing Mr Caltabiano for allegedly breaching the sales contract for the four-level apartment on top of the Soul building in Surfers Paradise.

But Mr Caltabiano, who also owns property at Mooloolaba, claims he was misled when he asked for proof about why the apartment was valued at $16.85 million.

He said he trusted the company because he had previously purchased property on the Sunshine Coast from Juniper.

Mr Caltabiano, who gave evidence at the trial, said he was at the Gold Coast having a drink in April 2006 when he saw a display for Soul apartments that were for sale.

He spoke to the salesman and noticed the penthouse was priced at $16.85 million.

Mr Caltabiano said he was interested in it and asked the salesman for proof the apartment was valued at that much.

He told the court that the salesman phoned him later saying a penthouse apartment in another building had sold for $20 million and another apartment, which was about half the size of his intended purchase, sold for about $7.8 million.

Peter Davis QC, representing Juniper, quizzed Mr Caltabiano during cross-examination and asked why he did not investigate the Gold Coast property market when he was prepared to invest $16.85 million in it.

"You must have surely thought to yourself that you ought to look after your own interests in relation to your dealings with the vendor (the salesman)," Mr Davis said.

Mr Caltabiano said he trusted what he was told.

"I had a high regard for Juniper and I trusted their assessment," he said.

The trial will continue until Friday.



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