Part 3: The saga of “The worst broker ever” ends badly for all concerned.
When it comes to guaranteeing the commission, Nathaniel cannot speak for his brokerage. Moreover, the lack of specificity as to when the commission would be due is troubling.
With that in mind, I send the following e-mail on the Thursday before the purported open house:
I know you’ve emailed me about the commission previously. But I’d much appreciate it if your firm would fax or email signed confirmation that my firm will receive 2.5 percent of the sold price no later than settlement of the transaction for having produced a ready, willing and able buyer. If the settlement does not occur because Seller breaches the contract, please also indicate that the commission will be due in that event as well no later than the settlement date in the contract.
Since my client plans to see the unit — regrettably in my absence — on Saturday, it is essential that I receive the confirmation well before his appointment.
With no response in 24 hours, I decide a telephone call is required. When I say my name, Nathaniel acts as though he’s never heard of me. He says he’s oh so busy and has oh so many e-mails and phone calls. Okay, I’m willing to chalk that up to a poor memory, though hardly his overwork.
He tells me that the commission arrangement is in his prior email. In addition, it’s difficult to show the apartment any time but Saturday 3-5 p.m. because the co-op is tenanted, Nathaniel says when I ask about the inflexible hours. Fair enough, perhaps, but not when you consider who the tenants are, as I soon discover.
I also want to know how much is the rent, but Nathaniel says he’ll have to “confirm” — his word exactly after how long on the market? — the number.
There followed this e-mail:
I have only emailed you personally once so it shouldn’t come to a huge surprise that I don’t know you.
Again, the commission is 5%. 2.5% each.
I won’t sign any cobroke agreements unless there is an agreed upon offer in place.
Your client will sign in at the open house with your name as broker. Also, we have email record that it is your client and what the agreed upon commission is.
Never have I been asked for a proprietary agreement, cobroke agreement and had other documents asked of me unless your client has seen the unit and has shown interest.
To answer your question: the owners family lives there and will leave when there is a sale.
There is no rent currently being collected.
In the end, Ben didn’t like the apartment, especially at the minimum price that he discussed (again, against my strong advice) with the listing broker. But he did like Nathaniel, who told him he was angry with me. I don’t know, but certainly doubt, whether the broker ever provided Ben with the agency disclosure form that the state requires consumers to sign.
Meantime, Ben seeks further clarification from the broker on his co-op/condo question and copies me in.
In his response, the listing broker erroneously contends that an “alternative definition of a Condop, used by real estate brokers, relates to cooperative apartment buildings that do not have board approval requirements or restriction on rentals.” He continues:
These building are viewed as hybrids wherein the ownership form is a cooperative corporation but the procedural characteristics are similar to a condominium. The term Condop is being used to reflect this hybrid character.
It much easier to advertise the building as a Condop so people don’t get turned off by the negative characteristics of a COOP. Unfortunately in NY there is a huge bias towards COOPS in general.
Aside from the fact that I haven’t encountered other respectable brokers — or even disreputable ones, for that matter — taking the same position, a co-op is a co-op is a co-op. And the law clearly states that it is a violation to market a property misleadingly.
Nathaniel’s makes crystal clear his intent in doing just that.
Mainly because of this episode and other factors that I am not reporting here, I arrived not incidentally at the conclusion that it was in our mutual interest for me to cease representing Ben.
Although I have invested six full days of visiting apartments with him and countless hours at my computer and on the phone (scheduling, mostly) for him, I am sure each of us will be better off if he works with another broker. I know that I’m relieved and believe that he must be as well.
Such is the nature of sales in general and the real estate business in particular.
It will not surprise you to learn that I couldn’t be happier to have avoided working on a transaction with the likes of Nathaniel, though it is hard to imagine anyone else who is like him.
Although I undoubtedly have my own failings and have run into other brokers whose actions have troubled me, I’ve never encountered as bad as the worst broker ever.
I sure I hope I never do again.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022