$10m fire sale


Developer ‘destroyed’ as bank flogs his mega-homes


They were the king and queen of Queenstown Hill – now they appear close to ruin.

After nearly a decade of big property developments, Austra­lians Glen and Viv Carless are being
sold up by their bank.

Glen Carless, 57, agonises over looming mortgagee sales of their $6.5 million palace on Queenstown Hill – and the $3.5m family dream home on Ladies Mile.

“I find it bizarre after 50 years of loyalty,” he says. “[Westpac is] the only bank I’ve ever banked with. I feel absolutely destroyed.”

Carless confesses he’s on the brink of going bust. “I’m being sold up [in Sydney too].”

Wife Viv is in Australia but Carless lives at Ladies Mile for now – “[but] probably in a tent somewhere in a week or so”.

Going to auction on November 12 is the 2005 mansion in The Peak gated estate – that Carless devel­oped – and Glenpanel, the 1909 Ladies Mile farmhouse.

“Selling The Peak [house] would have wiped out every debt I owe in the world,” Carless says ruefully.

But try as he might – and he has,for three years – he can’t get shot of the Queenstown Hill super-home, despite it being labelled one of the best houses in the world by Australia’s Better Homes & Gardens TV show in 2006.

With eight bathrooms and six bedrooms, the 950sq m house is probably Queenstown’s biggest – nine times larger than an average Kiwi home.

Carless spent $500,000 on furnishings.

No fewer than 10 deals have fallen over since it first came to market.

“Tyre-kickers”, Carless fumes, with some contracts “forgeries”.

“Some of the people I discovered, instead of having $9m to buy my house, were living in a shed somewhere.”

The record offer was $9.5m – from Ghana. Another failed deal was for $7.35m.

Each contract meant a month of due diligence before cancelling – another month of interest to Westpac, Carless says.

He won’t reveal how much it will take to clear his mortgages.

Bought in 2002 for $2.5m, the 100-year-old Glenpanel farmstead was to be their family home, Carless told Mountain Scene in 2006.

Also announcing The Peak was on sale at $7.5m, he said then: “It’s lovely to build fabulous houses but right now we’ve got more house than we need.

Something’s got to give so probably [The Peak] is the most marketable.”

Carless spent another cool million doing up 550sq m Glenpanel – four new bathrooms, $30,000 on English tapware and a $15,000 Italian fountain.

Early this year, Carless marketed Glenpanel himself at $4.5m – its current valuation is $2.5m.

In 2005, TV’s political satire The Pretender put The Peak mansion in the limelight – providing Viv Carless with her 15 minutes of fame too.

Glen gave the TV company free use of their mansion for the shoot – on condition Viv got a screen test.

She ended up playing the wife of the star – ironically, a multi-millionaire property developer.

From 2000, Carless and partners made the most of Queenstown’s sustained property boom.

They quickly snapped up 3.7ha for The Peak subdivision from Queenstown Lakes District Council at $3.5m – $95 per square metre.

Property values on Queenstown Hill skyrocketed. In 2007, for example, Kiwi yachting boss Grant Dalton’s family trust paid Carless $2.5m for a 4331sq m section – $577 per sq m.

Carless’s other big property play was the St Andrew’s Park subdivision next to Goldfields above Frankton Road.

About 54 of 71 sites have sold – opening prices ranged between $300,000-$1.66m.

Property sources tip a mortgagee sale on 17 unsold sections – but Carless thinks not.

“I doubt that – they’re selling too well.”

He’s optimistic on the home front too, hoping for a buyer on either The Peak or Glenpanel before auction day.
“I will find a way out of all this if it’s at all humanly possible.”