The High Road: Where in world has trust gone?

(Flickr photo by So gesehen)

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

During my routine tour of open houses on the Upper West Side one Sunday, I saw two listed by the same seasoned broker in one building.  Although I wanted to photograph them for a future Out and About post, I didn’t have my camera with me.

A week and a half later, I returned with my camera and, naturally, asked for permission to shoot the living room.  That’s what I always do, and I can think of only one occasion in years that a broker declined.

Eyebrows arced, the listing broker — call her Faith — asked, “What for?”  I told her it was a favorable post I had in mind comparing her two listings without, as usual, identifying the apartments.

She pondered and pondered, allowing that no one had ever asked for such permission previously.  She would have to ask her manager for advice, Faith said.

“Great,” I responded, “I’ll wait while you do that.”

She mumbled some excuse to the effect that her manager was unavailable, so I fell back to a proposal that I take the pictures since I already had gone out of my way a second time.  I gave her my word that I would not publish them unless I heard from her that it was okay to do so.

Faith demurred, declaring, “I don’t know you.”  She added that she wasn’t trying to be confrontational. 

Well, it felt that way to me, and I left in a huff.

My indignation rested on two points.  One, she would have recourse by calling my brokerage to complain should I break my promise.  Possibly, there could be action by the state or the Real Estate Board of New York as well.

Second, real estate brokers have to trust each other all the time.  We vouch for our buyers, we make assertions about the status of offers, we assert when renovations were undertaken, we talk about a building’s or neighborhood’s quality, and we pledge to have board applications completed speedily.

In an environment when many Americans believe politicians lie, the police make assertions that some view as questionable, spouses cheat on each other, and some real estate brokers are want to amplify descriptions of their listings and of their own abilities, I guess Faith’s lack of trust in me arguably makes sense.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, indeed.  But I sure am dismayed by what it says about her and the larger world.

Tomorrow: Brooklyn auction results

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you can privately search all available properties for a new home here.

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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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