The house and block of land belonging to the Mullumbimby grandmother that the agent is selling.
The house and block of land belonging to the Mullumbimby grandmother that the agent is selling.

Estate agent under fire from ethics campaigner

A MULLUMBIMBY real estate agent is under attack for purchasing a property from a near-blind elderly woman and then putting it back on the market to make a profit of at least $250,000.

Ethics campaigner Neil Jenman has launched a scathing broadside at Sean Kenny, who markets Sean Kenny Real Estate as "Number 1 in Mullumbimby".

A tip-off put Sydney-based Jenman on the investigative trail and he claims to have discovered that Mr Kenny had overheard a conversation involving the elderly owner 69-year-old Merron Shackel in a butcher's shop. He then approached the woman and offered to buy the home and a block of land on two separate titles for a total of $350,000 through Bale Building Company. Kenny and his offsider, Glenn Maxwell, are directors of that company. The sale was settled in June this year and now both the home and the vacant block of land are on the market for a combined total of $624,000.

Sean Kenny Real Estate's web site lists one "beautiful timber home" in Mullumbimby, with three bedrooms and a north-facing aspect, reduced from $419,000 to just $405,000. and, as required by law, the listing declares an "agent's interest". But a newspaper advertisment for the block of vacant land for $219,000 does not. A call to Sean Kenny Real Estate's office confirmed the block advertised is the one formerly owned by Merron Shackle. The sale of both the land and the home would return a profit of about $250,000. On his web site Neil Jenman has challenged Kenny's scruples.

"Well, Mr Kenny, most decent Australians care about exploiting the elderly," Jenman stated. "Sure, you may not have done anything illegal (as incredible as that seems) but most ordinary folk are likely to look upon what you are doing in rather simple terms," Jenman stated.

One of Merron Shackel's four daughters, Janelle, believes the deal is completely unethical and immoral. According to Janelle, her mother wanted $400,000 for the house and the block of land but was only offered $350,000. "She's an old lady, nearly blind and not in the best of health. She didn't know what she was doing and he took advantage of her," Janelle said. Her mum wanted enough money to move into a nursing home in Murwillumbah, but isn't happy there and now wants to move closer to her daughters, but can't afford to. The Northern Star contacted Sean Kenny by phone to offer him the right of reply, but he referred us to his solicitor, Peter Smith at Ocean Shores, and hung up. After viewing the article Mr Smith said he'll be recommending his client begin proceedings against Neil Jenman. "This is an extraordinary lack of ethics and that's what Jenman stands for," Peter Smith claimed. He added that Sean Kenny obtained an independent appraisal of the property and pointed out to the owner that his offer was lower than that valuation. "This is not a case of Sean Kenny acting unscrupulously and the claim she was robbed is not correct," Mr Smith said.

The Real Estate Institute would not comment on the deal, as Sean Kenny is not a member of the association. The link to Neil Jenman's article is www.jenman.com.%au/news_article.php?id=227. The Mullumbimby property can be viewed at www.sean%kenny.com.au under the title, "Beautiful timber home".



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