Case study : Why won’t RMS pay Kim Sun market value for his home?

Interview by Nicole Gooch

For many, working to own your own home is an important part of life in Sydney, although it is increasingly unlikely for younger residents due to rising house prices. People work hard to meet expectations. The least they expect is that when it comes to the ownership of their home, they will be treated fairly.

In an earlier post, we discussed the impact of losing your home on older residents and the fears of those who would be left behind about what it would be like to live in the middle of a huge construction site for months, or even years. The picture emerging is far from what Premier Mike Baird called “doing everything we can in terms of compensation, looking after them, provide provision for a new home” or the low key distanced tone of the Westconnex GHD Social Impact study

But you don’t have to be old to be severely affected by the threat of losing your home for less than its value, especially when all the stress you’re experiencing leads you to call Westconnex’s so called free counselling service and they don’t ring back.

This is the story of Kim Sun whose home at 21 Young Street will be smashed for Westconnex.

For the past few months, Kim Sun has spent almost every weekend attending auctions and open home inspections in and around North Strathfield. He is desperate and stressed as house prices are way above what he can afford.

The thing is, Kim and his wife already own a lovely home in North Strathfield, which they have renovated bit by bit since buying it in 2006. They’ve added insulation, solar power and a water tank as they expected to stay in it a lot longer. Their six year old son rides his scooter with his dad to the local school and his grandmother lives a 5 minutes drive away in same suburb.

But in November 2013, Kim received a letter from the WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA), informing him his house was to be acquired to make way for the motorway. It was the first he’d ever heard of the WestConnex. The family must now vacate by March next year, but Kim says WestConnex will only buy their house at nearly $200,000 less than market value.

“The price Roads and Maritime Services offer means we can only buy a home very substandard to the one we are living in. And time is running out. ” says Kim.

“It’s not right. It should be market value. That’s what they say they are offering, and it’s not. They are not doing the right thing by people. Considering the project is going to cost $15.4 billion, and they need our place, and they are stressing us out, why put on that extra pressure of offering below market value.”

WestCONnex/RMS has offered Kim Sun well under market value for his home
WestCONnex/RMS has offered Kim Sun well under market value for his home

“It’s a difficult situation too for me because my wife doesn’t work, she looks after my son and the house. I am the only one working, so it makes it a bit difficult having to borrow extra money to find a place, so we can stay within the area, with what they are offering.”

Kim says it’s the same for everybody on their street: “We all seem to have a problem with getting the market value.”

He knows others who have had to move to the Central Coast after their house was acquired, but that’s not an option for the Sun family. “I don’t want to change schools for my son, he likes it there, and mum is close by. I don’t want to go somewhere else,” says Kim, who catches a train from North Strathfield station or Strathfield station into work at Town Hall. “We were hoping to stay here a long time, which is why we set the house up comfortably.”

The past two years of negotiations and uncertainty have taken their toll. Kim is struggling with stress and is on antidepressants. It’s a situation made worse by a lack of communication from the WDA. “I’ve tried to call WestConnex myself, but they don’t return calls,” says Kim, who has kept a log of these calls, having been assigned a ‘job number’ for each. He feels “extremely disappointed and stressed” with the way WDA has treated his family.

In July this year Kim called WestConnex wanting to know by when exactly the house had to be emptied, and also asked about accessing the free counselling service on offer. His call was never returned.

A young family, work and an ailing mother already make for a busy life, and Kim says the last thing he needed on top of it all is to be “kicked out of my home in such a short space of time now”.

Asked by the People’s M4EIS what he thought of Premier Baird’s comment about needing to make provision for the majority, Kim says: “ If I was losing my house to public transport I’d probably feel less hurt by it. I don’t think the WestConnex is going to solve our problems. For me public transport would be the way to go first. And I thought ‘market value’ was market value. I don’t see why we have to negotiate so hard with them.”

Final negotiations between Kim and RMS took place two days ago. Kim refused to accept the RMS offer of $1.445 million, the same offer as the one made in August. “That offer is way below my valuer’s market value of $1.65mil,” says Kim. “We will be going to the Valuer General.”

(Ed:If you want to know more about Social Impacts of Westconnex, this submission from a resident in Haberfield is very helpful)

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12 thoughts on “Case study : Why won’t RMS pay Kim Sun market value for his home?

  1. Thanks for sharing Kim’s story. The WDA are disgraceful and many hundreds of families are in a similar situation.

    We need to demand an immediate enquiry or Royal Commission into this whole project.

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  2. I agree justsoundstories The more people find out about this project the more they are concerned about the failure to follow fair and proper procedures. There are ways of calling for a Royal Commission or public inquiry such as a online petition or letters to Premier Mike Baird. Newtown Greens MP tabled a petition with 10,000 signatures calling for a halt to the Westconnex project. This will be debated in parliament on November 19. Do you follow Westconnex Action Group facebook? It will keep you in touch with events
    https://www.facebook.com/westconnexactiongroup/?fref=ts
    Thanks for posting on the People’s EIS site

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  3. My parents are about to loose their commercial property. They too are in negotiations with RMS for market value. They are also offering them and all the small business owners in our area (that they are acquiring) a value way below market value.
    RMS are taking two approaches for business owners.
    Where there is a lease in place it is a restriction and it makes the property less valuable.
    Where there is no lease in place (even if the business has been there for a number of years) there is no business security and the business is valued at almost nothing. Then they value the property at a lower rate as well without a registered tenant.
    I do not understand why we need to have continuous negotiations to prove the market value of our property. They should pay people whose lives they are ruining so that they can relocate and get on with their lives. We all want to stay in the local area, they should pay fair compensation for the area and stop low values on all the property.

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  4. Thanks Nicole for writing my story.
    My family & I are waiting for the Valuer General’s valuation of our home.
    The suspense is frightening.
    Will the valuation be fair or would I need to go to court to get market value.
    Will I be able to buy another home in the same area, close to family.

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  5. Property acquisition is not a windfall – think about what you would have realistically been able to sell for. The RMS offer of $1.445M looks reasonable. Have a look at “13 Daly Avenue, Concord, NSW 2137” for $1.55M currently on realestate.com.au. This is a much better location for a similar house – so your valuation of $1.65M looks high. Young St is one of the less desirable streets in North Strathfield – it gets noise and pollution from Parramatta Rd and the M4 and the only access is from the M4 exit.

    Before it is too late, think of yourself and your family and the positive points. You will be getting away from the smokestacks, substations and exits ramps – unlike the people in nearby Carrington St who will get all the inconvenience and no compensation at all. You have a guaranteed buyer and still some time to find a new home – a better home – and a better life than fighting with the RMS.

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    • Hi Jason,

      You may not realise but 13 Daly Ave will be affected by the WestConnex.
      Then you must consider comparing houses that were on the market at the time which has been sold.
      It is hard to make a house comparison unless you visit to see the condition the home is.
      You can enter Young St from Concord Rd & side street.
      I am no longer fighting the RMS. The Valuer General will decide.
      You may not know but my neighbour on 23 Young St settle a couple of weeks ago for $1.5 mill & RMS was offering me the same. So RMS wanted free solar system, rainwater tank & a better home.
      Unfairness is something to fight for.

      Regards,
      Kim Sun

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  6. Hi Kim
    I hope you are able to get what you want from the VG and move on. I was in “negotiations” with RMS for nearly a year and it was not pleasant – they would say anything to support their offer with quite absurd statements like “the size of the land does not affect the value”, “the affected area of north strathfiield is primarily light industrial and warehouses”, “run down fibro extensions are more desirable than original features such as marble fireplaces, turned timber features and leadlight windows”, etc. It was quite clear that they had no intention of real negotiation – just to get what hey want. The two good parts of the RMS offer were that they would buy the house when i was ready and that i would be better off than people left behind (with the construction chaos, exhaust stacks and traffic) with no compensation. I decided that my quality of life was worth more than the hundred thousand dollars under negotiation. It is not fair – but life is short.

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  7. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for sharing your unpleasant experience with the RMS.
    It is sad that the law in place allows RMS to get away with the undervaluation & trauma they put people thru.

    I hope the same, that the VG will give a fair market value for our home.
    I met with Craig Laundy, Reid federal member last week.
    He said he has fought for undervaluation by the VG & was able to result in as satisfactory outcome for the home owner.
    Craig said he will assist anyone affected by the Westconnex in his area to reach a happy outcome with the VG.

    Jodie McKay MP Member for Strathfield helped set up with ABC News the following article on how unfair RMS compulsory acquisition has been in undervaluing properties & the suffering home owners are going thru.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-01/home-owners-losing-houses-to-westconnex-call-for-more-money/6988528

    It is not much longer before we are expect to vacate in March 2016.
    Our battle with RMS to get a fair market value started over 2 years ago.
    Just a little longer & with God’s help our quality of life should return.

    My work has been unpleasant since 2010 with bullying & harassment. But that is another battle & with God’s help, I hope one day return to a normal & enjoyable life with my family.

    Best wishes,
    Kim Sun

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  8. Hi All,

    Just an update.
    We have move out of 21 Young St after accepting the Valuer General’s about $100 000 below market value.
    This offer however was better then RMS offer of about $150 000 below market value.
    At he moment we are in search to buy a replacement home similar to the standard we lost to the RMS.
    We hope the market will drop in price enough for us to remain in the area.
    My neighbours are expected to move out by 31Mar16.
    I hope others put in this unsettling predicament by the RMS are doing well.

    Regards,
    Kim

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  9. Hi Kim,
    Thankyou for sharing your story. I also read in smh Sep 16 article you advised to get a good lawyer and to stay in touch with neighbours to see what they got as a way to know if you’re being treated equally. Would you mind sharing which lawyer you engaged?

    We are affected by the new rail line and acquisition is by Transport for NSW. I hope they won’t be as ruthless as Rms. Offers are coming in now and some of us are at a lost to who would be a good lawyer. We’ve looked up several but can’t really tell who’s the best option. Much appreciated if you could share. I don’t know how to contact you or if you’re still on this link but it was worth a try. Thankyou very much.

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    • Hi,

      The lawyer I used was Slater & Gordon.
      They have a section that specialises in compulsory acquisition.
      They were able to hold off payment of their fees until settlement.
      Slater & Gordon became pricey after 2 year of negotiating with the RMS, but that was not going to matter as RMS was going to pay the full bill.
      However after I rejected RMS final offer, I had the VG (Valuer General) determine a fair price for our home.
      The VG end up giving us $50k more then RMS. However because of the pricey solicitor fee, the VG determined that I had to pay $25k of the solicitor fee. RMS paid the difference.
      If you have anymore question you can contact me here.

      ***
      Hi All,

      My Family & I have now moved in to our replacement home in Enfield.
      We were unable to find a similar home in North Strathfield with the below market value RMS paid us.
      With the new location, my son had to change school, which unsettled him a bit.

      Regards,
      Kim

      Like

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