I did reach the author of the advertisement in the New York Times (published again on Sunday) that provoked my interest. That’s the one in which was promised a doubling of investors’ money within three years.
In my post last week, I wondered aloud whether the guy was legit.
I’m still not sure what he’s about after talking on the telephone to Southampton-based Peter Clarke, 50, for about 10 minutes before he abruptly hung up on me, saying, “We’re done, thanks.” Just before terminating the call, in which I had identified myself as a broker and blogger, he averred that “at the end of the day, this can’t benefit me.” He also said that no one reads
Clarke, who explained his evident accent by noting that he is partly Welsh and Scottish, characterized himself as “just a real estate investor.”
According to him, his business model has potential buyers specifying exactly the kind and location of property that they are seeking. Clarke said that he and his team than search for that real estate, send photos, show the property, purchase the place at that point, sell it directly to the buyer and then fix it up as requested.
I never had the chance to ask how he conducted the search or to clarify what showing the property means.
He did not answer directly when I asked how big is the “entire team” mentioned on his Web site. Nor would he say how many properties he owned, but he did remark that he was not a real estate broker. I inferred from a couple of his responses that both his team and inventory were small.
“You sound like a newspaper reporter,” he declared as I pressed him. I hope so: That was my first and longest career, and it included investigative journalism.
Acknowledging that he was low on capital, Clarke said he cannot build volume without raising funds for television advertising.
Clarke added that health issues starting in 2008 had slowed down development of his business. He said he had been hospitalized during most of 2009. As I pressed him for more information, the investor also said, “I just got out of the hospital 20 minutes ago.” Our conversation, on Sunday, went even more quickly downhill than before from there.
Frankly, I don’t know what to believe. Clarke’s business and his appeal for investors may be credible. If I had $5 million to sink into an entrepreneur’s fantasy, however, I’d gamble sooner on selling snowplows in Jamaica .
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022