Top broker and I have an extended e-mail spat

Flickr photo by Giandomenico Ricci.

She is a first-rate broker with a raft of listings.  When a client of mine wanted to see one of them on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I e-mailed that information to the broker, whom I’ll call “Gina,” touching off a dispute that riles me even as I pen this post.

To put the e-mail exchange in context, you need to know that I had asked on Tuesday, March 9, for an appointment at 10 a.m. on the Saturday before the one that is the subject of the e-mails below.

Gina wrote back what would work for her: later than 10 a.m. on Saturday or at an open house on Sunday.  She didn’t provide details.  When no open house appeared on the listing by that Thursday, I decided to e-mail her once again. Only in that way did I learn of one being scheduled for that Sunday at times she ultimately provided to me.

In the end, my client couldn’t make the open house, but I went alone to see the apartment for myself.  The next day, Monday, March 15, I sent “Gina” another e-mail:

If you are not having an open house this coming weekend, my customer would like an appointment to see the unit on Saturday or Sunday if possible.


One day later, this is her full response:


Two days later, I write:


She e-mails back, suggesting 10:45 a.m. on Saturday.  I respond by saying I would check with my client.  Not long afterward, the following e-mail arrived from the broker’s assistant:

Hi Malcolm – The owners unfortunately can’t provide access this weekend.  Please check our website next week to see if there’ll be an open house the following Sunday.

There immediately came an email addressed to the assistant and two other members of the broker’s team, plus me.

I can do 10:45 and told him

I’m understandably confused.  Which of the three messages are we going with?

Mine Malcolm altho [team member’s name deleted] tells me u didn’t think the apt was for your customers?

Absolutely right, Gina.  When I described the back rooms and kitchen to her as forthrightly as possible, she said she still wanted to see the place—much to my surprise.  So I’m emailing her now about 10:45 on Saturday with fingers crossed.


Thanks, “Gina.”  But after (finally) speaking with a relative who also would live in the apartment, my client decided that the apartment could not work for her.  Sorry about all this, but best of luck.

Yup. Next time don’t be rude making the appt then.

First, “Gina,” I’d love to know how I was rude.  What’s rude is to respond only “ok” to my question about whether you wanted to schedule an appointment or you would be holding an open house.  We’re all busy, Gina, even me, and working our BlackBerries furiously.  Second, I’d love to know why your assistant emailed me to report the owner would not permit access and that minutes later you replied all saying that you already had told me you would show it. (Scroll down.)  Did the situation magically change?  Come on!

Malcolm, your email to me was rude. U were rude to [deleted] at the OH and my asst made a mistake.
If u think you will get far being rude to me you are sorely mistaken.

Where to begin? Perhaps at the end.

What does her threat mean? That, should I want to show one of her listings to a customer, she won’t make it possible? If so, she would be depriving the seller of a potential offer and, in so doing, failing to serve her client’s best interests.

As for my rudeness at the open house, I immediately sent an email to the broker who was there. He wrote back saying that I wasn’t rude to him but pointed out that I had made negative comments about the place while a customer was present.

I should have kept my comments to myself. (I was thinking out loud.) My weak defense is that I recall being startled in this sprawling multi-million apartment to encounter a third person after turning a corner. Still, I was wrong, and I apologized for that uncharacteristic behavior as well.

Regarding the assistant’s e-mail, I don’t and didn’t think it was, as “Gina” put it, a “mistake.” I read the response as a lie that was told so as to not to inconvenience the broker or others on her team.  And her failure to volunteer to contact me when the next open house would be scheduled was hardly helpful either to me or the apartment’s owner.

Maybe I am and was wrong, but the handling of my request rubs me the wrong way. Given my experience with the poor communication that I had been experiencing and the arrogance that I perceived, my hackles already were raised and perhaps–only perhaps–my emails about the appointment could be read as rude. But I have a hard time subscribing to that notion.

In my view, this is more than a tempest in a teapot.  To me, it is a fundamental issue having to do with the way brokers deal with each other and a legal requirement to represent their clients’ best interests.

Readers, I would love to know what you think.  If I owe “Gina” an apology, too, rest assured that she will hear from me.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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