Tag Archives: Real estate agents

With a new name comes a new working environment

Lockwood & Mead will no longer conduct business as we used to or like this brokerage firm still does:

A real-estate salesman says his former boss threw scissors at him, bit him, intentionally sneezed on him — and even urinated on his clothes.

That’s the old firm – we’re real dignified now, and sales associates are gonna love it.

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This is just plain unfair

Come up and see my open house, big guy

Sex sells real estate. Or real estate agent services, anyway.

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Scratch him off the “Realtor of the Year” short list

Real estate agent accused of child molestation found shot to death in home.

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NAR gets religion, a little

It’s buying a data service that will feed members data on past sales prices, zoning, liens, etc. All of that information is already available but for the agent too dumb and lazy to find it, this will enable her to do so at a touch of a button. Full access to information is the future – in fact, it’s here – and it’s nice to see the hidebound NAR start to understand that.

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Is it time for the Board of Realtors to enforce some standards?

20 Heronvue

Long term rental - maybe

With 280 houses awaiting foreclosure in town, the odds of renting one without being told that you could get tossed out by the foreclosing lender at any time are pretty good – especially because my colleagues don’t like to mention that possibility on their listing sheets. This one at 20 Heronvue is just the latest example. You can buy it for $4.350 million (but don’t offer less – we did, and were met by a stream of profanity that would have made my own Marine Corp Granny blush. We got a better deal up the street, though, so thank you, sir) or, as of today, you can rent it for $12,500 a month and, in the words of its agent Jay Cook, enjoy

NEWER CONSTRUCTION IN A PRIVATE HAVEN.  6 BEDROOMS, 5 FULL, 3 HALF BATHS, 4 CAR GARAGE, COMMUNITY TENNIS COURT. A HANDCRAFTED GEM. FLOODED W/LIGHT, DEFINED BY GREAT MATERIALS & STUNNING CRAFTSMANSHIP, THIS HOUSE WILL BE A COMFORTABLE RENTAL. ITS BEAUTIFULLY SITED WITH A BROAD LAWNS AND WOODLAND QUIETUDE

You may be comfortable and you may enjoy woodland quietude, but there’s certainly no guarantee of “quiet enjoyment” – the place has a $3.5 million mortgage on it that’s being foreclosed on. That action could be dragged out long enough for you to stay a full year here, or it may not, but wouldn’t you want to know about the possibility of being evicted some “quiet” Saturday morning?

I’m not picking on Jay in particular – there must be dozens of rental offerings on the market right now and none warn of pending foreclosures. But if agents and their brokers won’t disclose it, the Board ought to, because, supposedly, we’re all in this business to be fair and to protect the interests of all parties in a real estate transaction, not just the one paying our fee. Supposedly.

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Follow up on the idiot

As of close of business today it looks as though the closing scheduled for today and sabotaged by a professional Realtor (capitalized and trademarked, if you please) has somehow survived his best efforts and will go forward Tuesday. If so, this delay will only cause interest to accrue at $985 a day for five more days, money that will go to the lender, not the agent’s client. D’uh.

I’m still at a loss to explain what dim circuit lighted up this fellow’s neurons and caused him to use a contractual condition that was of no concern to the buyer, the seller or either party’s lawyers to screw up the deal. He can’t explain it or won’t, and has retreated into radio silence, I hope from embarrassment.

I’m reminded of a kid I grew up with here in town who seemed to have had a few chromosomes go astray during gestation. He was a little slow – alright, a lot of slow – and as I watched him fail at job after job through the years I worried about him, until his mother, a local politician, arranged for a town job for him just before her own death. Now I see him around town clearing clogged storm drains and raking leaves and I’m glad – another ten years in the cold and he can retire with a pension and not spend his declining years sharing a cardboard box with me.

So I am not angry with this poor, befuddled guy who can’t sell real estate. I understand his handicap and I sympathize. In fact, I hope he too has a politically connected mommy who can take care of his future. He’s going to need it.

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If houses aren’t moving, agents are

Next to soothing angry sellers whose houses won’t sell, a real estate branch manager’s most important task is poaching agents from competitors. Less money for the competitor, more money for the manager and his  or her employer. That’s the theory, anyway – in actuality, the agents they persuade to jump ship are rarely top performers so I wonder what’s really accomplished by this elaborate game of musical chairs.

Nonetheless, today’s “Green Sheet ” from the Greenwich Board of Realtors shows that Coldwell Banker’s manager has been plying the coffee shops and raided three agents from Weikert. That’s nice for the agents: they’ll finally have access to a color copier – but I’d guess it won’t have any permanent, life-changing effect on them, Weikert or CB. But “CB moves,” it likes to say, so there they go.

Here’s a video of the process.

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Idiot wind

Sitting in the office today watching a very stupid colleague screw up a scheduled closing because he has apparently decided to act as his client’s (second) lawyer. I have nothing against stupidity – I practice it myself every day – but to see a blundering moron confuse his role with that of a real lawyer is frustrating. Especially so when this latest fumbling comes after two months of the same behavior, where the fellow, trying to “advocate for his client”, has put obstacle after obstacle in the way of the deal, thwarting his client’s best interests and costing everyone (including me, hence my pique) a ton of money, all for, at best, a false illusion that he is an important person.

I am often asked by non-realtors whether they can make money in this business. My answer is, come on in. The level of competition is so appallingly low that an IQ over 85 confers an automatic edge. Of course, you have to deal with drooling idiots like this fellow, but what can you do?

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Realtors

My clients and I looked at a house today that was “broker accompanied”, meaning we got to hear a sales pitch directly from the owners’ representative. I’m not sure we profited from the experience. A leaning chimney, we were told, was deliberately built that way because “chimneys have to slant or the smoke won’t go up them”. A furnace that looked at least fifteen years old was “installed in 2005″. The hydro-air system * was “the very newest technology in heating.”

And so on. I blame ignorance, rather than deliberate duplicity for these misrepresentations and utter nonsense, but I also find it ironic that I’m up on charges of bringing disrespect to the realty profession when, every day, the practitioners of that profession do far more damage simply by opening their mouths.

 

*”Hydro air heating systems are becoming increasingly popular in the New England area. The concept of hydro air is not new, and has existed for most of this century.”

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Brokers stage fire sale

My goodness, the stories of bad broker behavior  (that would be BBB) just keep on coming. Here’s a California couple that turned to arson to get their money. We’re going to have to work on those ethics classes in broker continuing education.

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More bad news about Realtors

What could be wrong about taking an insane killer to the County Fair for the day? Oh yeah….

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Bad times fraying real estate agents’ tempers?

I’ve been hearing stories of nasty behavior between real estate agents these past months as commissions grow smaller and less frequent but with the exception of one desperate lady who keeps emailing my clients (in violation of our rules) inquiring if they’d like to work with her instead of me, I haven’t seen much personally. But I did a small rental last month and, after correcting an address error, sent a second bill for my commission just today – I could use a new tank of gas. Back comes a snotty reply, promising to “pass along” my bill to the owner (hey lady, you and your firm promised the commission, not the owner – if you didn’t think to collect it at closing, that’s your problem, not mine) and perhaps I’d get paid “for all the work you did.” That last, you will be shocked to learn, was meant to be sarcastic.

My clients went to this particular agent’s office to sign a lease application while I was out of town and she spent most of her time complaining that I wasn’t there to help with the credit work, what was I doing for my money, etc. etc. Not very professional to disparage another agent and really dumb to confess that you need another agent’s help to fill out a credit application (name, social security number and address). Then, to complain about paying me for “the work I did” which was, after all, spending several months with these nice people, showing them multiple houses and showing the house in question twice, is to reveal how desperate this woman is to keep both sides of a rental comission. If you’re going to cop an attitude, honey, at least do it for something larger than the cost of a dozen ice cream cones.

My clients didn’t like this lady and in fact were suspicious of her motives and some of her representations. When they mentioned that to her she dismissed their concerns saying “I’ve been voted Real Estate Agent of the Year by my peers”. That’s not an award I pay much attention to or vote for, but if this particular lady represents the highest standards and values of the Greenwich real estate profession, I suggest you start using Zillow.com exclusively from now on.

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Help Wanted

U.S. Marshal’s Service seeking brokers to sell off Bernie Madoff’s New York (Manhattan, Long Island) and Florida (Palm Beach) properties. It’s an intriguing opportunity, but I’m holding out for Walt’s cottage at 175 Round Hill. When you’re operating with a limited supply of talent, it doesn’t pay to spread it too thin.

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A good start

The weekly “Green Sheet”, the Greenwich Association of Realtor’s effort to keep members up on the news, lists 34 agents who have dropped their membership. Scrolling that list, I saw one agent who has died, two who moved away and the rest I’ve never heard of. What were these people thinking, paying thousands of dollars for membership each year when they were selling nothing? Heck, if all you want to do is tour over-priced mansions, I’ll sneak you in for just $100 per. Call me.

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Reason Number 21 to use Futterker & Fontanski Discount Real Estate

You got full replacement coverage, right?

You got full replacement coverage, right?

We’ll burn your house down for you! Hey – no buyers but a good insurance policy? No problem for a full service Realtor.

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Here’s a new consideration – how solvent is your agent?

I ran into my old law partner (actually, he was the partner, I was a lowly associate) real estate attorney Dean Montgomery today and he told me of a new development that neither of us had heard of before: the Coldwell Banker agent with whom he has listed his Dolphin Cove residence is expected to pay for all advertising out of her pocket! It has always been customary for the brokerage house to pay for this stuff – after all, they take anywhere from 10% -50% of an agent’s commission and presumably that money goes for something – so I don’t know if this departure from practice is peculiar to one Stamford branch of Coldwell Banker or if it’s a new industry model, but before listing my house with someone I would want to know who was going to pay to advertise it and, if it was the responsibility of the agent, I’d demand to see her financial statement. (Hiram, if you’re really bored, feel free to diagram that sentence).

It would be a real bummer to have your house out on the market with just a few hand-written cardboard signs posted at the local deli to advertise it.

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Would a real estate agent lie to you?

A friend of mine shopping for house in New Canaan says that his agent there claims all is rosy, there are 80 houses under contract and prices are higher than last year. Well … gee.

I don’t have immediate access to New Canaan contract statistics but this William Raveis link has some pretty up-to-date numbers and they make me think that my friend’s agent is either uninformed, a complete liar or more likely, both. According to Raveis, 15 single family homes in New Canaan sold in July, compared to 16 for the entire month of June,  leaving 320 in inventory. If 80 of those remaining homes are under contract, I’ll eat their front doors. The sales to (last) listing price average has been dropping for the past two years and inventory is trending up. The disappointing thing about this is that the lady in question purports to be representing my friend. I do wonder what she considers she’s doing to earn her fee?

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Maybe she’d like to be a real estate agent

Down on her luck stock broker needs a new career. Bess Levin, the funniest blogger out there (Dealbreaker.com) reports on the poor girl’s plight:

Specifically Robin Katz would like to “become a stockbroker at Oppenheimer or Carrington Fox,” but is willing to be flexible. Previous job experience includes working as a financial planner at JPMorgan Chase. As for references, those are going to be slightly difficult to procure, as Katz is kind of in a bad spot with her former employer, on account of creating an extra ATM card in one of her client’s names, and helping herself to like $100,000 or so, starting in 2008 (so over the course of a year, really not that much and the guy only noticed a month ago, prompting Big K to hightail it back to her family’s house for a medical emergency in California). Hobbies, as you can see, seemingly include baking, as well as “shopping and going out.” The Post, I think, I’m not sure, but I think is trying to suggest to us that Katz is something of a harlot (“…on her my space page, her interests include: “Politics: F– Bush. Sex: F– Me.” Several photos show her skydiving, playing in a zero-gravity simulator and posing alluringly in a tight, low-cut top with her hands behind her head.”) but that’s all hearsay and speculation. Anyway, if anyone’s interested, a signing bonus or advance could really be useful at this time, as Rob is currently held on $50,000 bail at Rikers Island.

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Ah, we just hate when this happens!

Real estate agent discovers corpse during house showing. Ogilvy agent and my friend Martha Jeffrey told me once that her father, an extremely successful broker in Westchester, was showing a house to clients when they found the (former) owner sprawled dead in his Lazy-Boy. Her dad not only dealt competently with the corpse, he sold the house to those buyers! Salesman of the century. Maybe Mark Mariani should hire him to sell Dairy road.

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Just a great day for real estate agents to cover themselves with glory

One of the mortgage foreclosure lis pendens discovered in Town Hall today was against property just leased by this firm to a tenant which, of course jeopardizes their covenant of quiet enjoyment – banks like to toss tenants out of houses they’re foreclosing on. A call to the listing agent disclosed that she knew of the pending action while negotiating the lease and in fact knew that the action had commenced before the lease was executed. Can you say, “non-disclosure of a material fact”? Can you say, “bogus idiot collecting money for no service at all”? I certainly can.

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