The High Road: Broker shows his true colors

Part 2: In my previous post, I detail the questionable claims made by “Nathaniel,” the listing broker for a downtown property.

(Flickr photo by

Nathaniel, the listing broker who has been communicating directly with my buyer, causes me to doubt almost everything about him and what he says.  I decide it’s time to get to the bottom of his claims and send an e-mail:

When I look at the Streeteasy listing , I see that the building is a co-op.  Also, I see there that it is an HDFC income-limited building.  If both are up to date and therefore true, I wonder how my client would qualify on the one hand and not face an intrusive board approval process on the other.  The second related issue has to do with any board sublet and pied-à-terre policies, for which it would be useful to me to have the benefit of some elaboration on your part.

 Also, I was just a bit surprised to see that the sales were not listed in the OLR database.  Perhaps you could explain. 

 Finally, if you happen to have electronic copies of the financials, board application and other docs, we would love to have a look.

 Assuming my questions and your responses present no obstacles, would you be able to show the property Friday afternoon?

Here’s how the broker responds, exactly as written with the exception of identifying details:

Its a really lose COOP.

The building is still labeled HDFC but there is no restrictions.There is very little approval process- and its a very easy building.

I have [omitted] is on OLR and I am putting up apt [omitted] on there tomorrow.

[Omitted] a 5% Cobroke at apt [omitted] and 6% for apt [omitted (and of no interest to the buyer)].

The COOP does not want to give out bylaws etc to anyone who asks  -they request we have a accepted offer first on the contingency that the bylaws are acceptable.

I am doing an open house on Saturday from 3-5pm – what time would you like to come?

Note  that he (1) ignores my request about Friday while asking for a specific time for attending his supposed open house; (2) describes a surprisingly uncooperative co-op without explanation; (3) volunteers no evidence about the change in HDFC status; and (4) fails to detail the approval process or send along a board application to prove it is easy.

Nathaniel did provide a copy of the floor plan.  Although the listing indicated three bedrooms, the floor plan showed only one of them as being legally so.  (I subsequently learned that a window not shown in one of those rooms actually exists, though I suspect the room is technically a hallway leading from the living room to the lone actual bedroom.)

Still, even two bedrooms do not add up to three.

Nathaniel, the listing broker I mightily distrust, and I continue to e-mail.

Because of a long-planned one-day out-of-town trip for family matters on Saturday, I propose to the broker that I look at the unit either on Friday or Sunday.  My buyer is intent on seeing the place on Saturday, with or without me.

Nathaniel counters with the following SaturdayPeriod.

My buyer, to whom I’ve copied the e-mails, concludes that “he’s pissed at you” and worries that the situation would put him in a bad negotiating position.  Although Ben might be right, the fact is that the listing broker’s job is to unload the apartment to any ready, willing and able buyer just as mine is to do my utmost to protect my client and get him the best possible terms.

Given what I see as Nathaniel’s incompetence and astounding lack of professionalism, I develop considerable concern that his firm will decide against paying my firm’s share of the commission. 

Without it being specified in the OLR database or on the brokerage’s Web site, my firm has no standing to demand the commission. (Commissions are paid between firms, which then share them with their personnel.)

I am dreading the possibility of being involved in a transaction with Nathaniel.

Next: Relationships go downhill

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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

One thought on “The High Road: Broker shows his true colors

  1. Your strongest legal ground for half the commission would be that both firms had signed the Universal Co-broke Agreement of Rebny.

    After that, you are relying on a hope that they put commission details in writing somewhere and NY State law would enforce it. I would view putting commission details in an email to be equal to putting them in OLR or on their website. In all three of those instances, no explicit contract was formed, but at least there is evidence in your favor that there was a commission to be split.


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