The High Road: Broker says buyer must work with him

To put it as diplomatically as possible, the sumptuously decorated apartment that interested my client.

A buyer with whom I’ve been working for perhaps a year likes to search listings and attend open houses by himself. I’ll call him John.

That’s fine with me since I know John values my opinion, which he frequently solicits, and will want my help when he finds what he wants.

John called me a week and a half ago to say he was going to check on an alcove studio poles apart from a more expensive one-bedroom unit that appealed to him on the Upper West Side. Despite my admonitions, he had telephoned the listing broker directly to ask for details, conceding that he already was represented.

Not a good idea, said the listing broker, who arranged for John to see the co-op anyway. I’ll call him Dick.

It happens that John had signed a broker representation agreement with me, so I reminded him of the law and suggested that he take the document with him. What the law explicitly says is that buyers have the right to be represented by their own broker until a contract is signed. How could the right logically be denied?

At the apartment, so John tells me, the listing broker reiterated that John would have to deal with him if he decided to buy the unit, which already had an accepted offer–all cash below the asking price. (By startling coincidence, I knew Dick and, because of his arrogance, disliked him when each of us were brokers in Washington, D.C. and worked out at the same gym.)

John says that he asked Dick, who is affiliated with a firm that was founded recently, whether his stricture wasn’t illegal. The broker’s words have fled my memory, but he did proceed to show the apartment to my buyer. He also promised to e-mail John about making an offer, maybe expecting trouble from me, who was not identified.

The e-mail never arrived.  But the broker called John just yesterday to say that the seller would, in fact, entertain another offer, even below the asking price.  Dick also offered to show my client another property in the same building that was not yet listed–in other words, a questionable “pocket listing.”

Apparently he failed to appreciate his jeopardy: Dick was in clear violation of the law, theortically putting his license at great risk. The risk is theoretical since no one else was present to verify any of the comments that he made to John.

Had I made in inquiry and Dick repeated his requirement to work only with John, Dick could have been in serious trouble, depending on how he handled the situation.

It is brokers like Dick who burden others among us with a sullied reputation.

Let’s just say that I’m glad we no longer work out at the same gym. I may be able to hoist a heavy weight, but I doubt I could hold my tongue.

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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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