PHOTO: Pat and Peter McQuhae claim they weren’t given an opportunity to rectify any issues with the building contract. ()

Metricon’s Ultimatum: Pay Higher Prices or Lose Homes and Deposits

Termination of Fixed-Price Contracts and Commission Fee Changes

Pat and Peter McQuhae Among Customers Affected

Metricon, the country’s largest home builder, has thrown dozens of customers into a difficult situation by terminating their fixed-price contracts and demanding they sign new agreements at significantly higher costs. Alongside this contentious move, the major homebuilder has mysteriously halted the payment of commission fees to some agents, leaving them in the lurch without any explanation. This has raised concerns as Metricon stands as the sole builder to appear on the NSW watchdog’s complaints register this year.

The McQuhae’s Heartbreaking Dilemma

Among those affected are Pat and Peter McQuhae, a retired couple looking forward to owning their “forever home” for their retirement. Metricon issued them an ultimatum in February: either pay an additional $266,000, almost 50% more than the original contract, or face termination of their build and lose their deposit of $25,000. The McQuhaes are not alone, as many customers on fixed-price contracts now face a similar dilemma due to the builder’s struggle with surging labor and material costs.

Disputes and Legal Battles

The McQuhaes claim that they informed Metricon about paying in cash, negating the need for a loan, but the company accused them of breaching their contract for not providing finance details. The retirees were shocked to find out about this breach through the termination letter, and despite taking legal action, negotiations have reached a stalemate. Many customers have expressed their frustration with Metricon’s handling of the situation, claiming they were given limited time to decide and faced termination without alternatives.

Commission Payment Suspensions Raise Concerns

Beyond the contract terminations, some buyer’s agents have revealed that Metricon has stopped paying commissions without any explanation. This has raised suspicions among industry professionals, as similar practices were seen with another collapsed builder in 2021. The situation has left many agents in financial distress, with some customers’ contracts canceled abruptly, leaving little time for decisions.

Metricon’s Response and Regulatory Oversight

Metricon maintains that it operates within the bounds of the law and contractual agreements, citing material and labor price increases as reasons for contract changes. However, the builder’s appearance on the complaints register reflects growing dissatisfaction among customers. Regulators in Queensland and Victoria have yet to provide complaint figures against Metricon. The broader construction industry is facing challenges due to increased costs and interest rates, leading to higher insolvency rates.

The Toll on Customers

For many affected customers, the experience has been emotionally and financially draining. Legal battles, terminated contracts, and lost deposits have left individuals struggling to cope. The uncertainty surrounding the building industry’s future, coupled with the financial instability faced by Metricon, has added to the complexity of the situation.

In conclusion, Metricon’s decision to terminate fixed-price contracts and its commission payment suspension have caused distress among customers and agents alike. The company’s appearance on the complaints register raises questions about regulatory oversight, while the broader construction industry grapples with financial challenges. As the McQuhaes and others endure the toll of this ordeal, it remains crucial for potential homebuyers to seek legal advice before entering into contracts to protect their interests.