If this is a true story, one broker should be shot

Montague Terrace, Brooklyn Heights (Flickr photo by lumierefl)

A friend sent me the link to a New York Times blog, where an anonymous commenter told an anecdote that raised my hackles and, as well, the hair on my head.

It seems a Brooklyn Heights real estate broker leaped over the line of conflict of interest and landed with both feet on the square of ethical violation.

According to the post, the broker is married to the president of a co-op board in the building where the writer, a first-time buyer and foreigner, hoped to live.  The commenter quoted the broker, who is the female half of the couple, as maintaining that she knew exactly what sort of shareholder the board was seeking–“and don’t worry.”

The woman and her husband would facilitate the process, the broker reportedly said. The comment continues:

Yet she can’t tell us what their financial requirements are beyond “20% down and enough to pay on a rainy day!”  She leaves us to put together the ‘package” – rushed as soon as the mortgage commitment letter arrives (rather than letting us address its conditions first).

She has her husband call to prep us for the interview but says not to let the board know that he has spoken to us.

We are blindsided in the interview – presided by the husband – by the confusing situation of this subterfuge (what are we supposed to say? what are we not?) as well as the surprise that the storage rooms in the basement have a 12 year waiting list (not 9 months to one year, as the broker wife assured).

Our rejection arrives from the broker the next morning by email. “Sorry! Let me know if I can help you in your future search!”

With what??? We have lost a quarter of our deposit to the seller (so sure was the broker that we were “just right” that she conned us us into signing a non-refundable deposit with no board approval contingency), thousands of dollars to the mortgage company (recommended by the broker), appraiser (whom the broker made sure got the right comps to insure it was high enough), the building’s management company (chosen by the broker’s husband), and the coop board itself.

Of course, there are two sides of every story.  So they say.  But this anecdote rings true to my ears.  I can’t begin to count the moral offenses, never mind the violations of ethics.  But I can assure you that I am embarrassed for all of us who work as real estate agents and brokers.

Even if the account is untrue or exaggerated, that it is believable speaks volumes about some of those real estate practitioners with whom I, and undoubtedly you, have crossed paths. The commenter’s experience is not only a shame: It is shameful that the buyer’s broker acted as she did.

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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

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