Professionalism (and manners) among Realtors

Angry reader # 20001, “Greenwich Realtor” writes this gently chiding note:

Hey Mr. O so Cynical (or should I say O so stupid, not to mention bad speller!).

You are obviously a 1 dimensional thinker.  To pontificate that the brokers have such power as to manipulate housing prices is laughable.  And BTW, Greenwich realtors are among the most professional you will find if you could only get your head out of your a** for just 1 moment.  Enjoy your day and please, get a life……

Here’s an example of the professionalism Greenwich Realtor is so proud of:

15 Almira Drive
15 Almira Drive

 This bank-owned property is currently for sale at $534,900, not a bad price for a remodelled house, even if it is just 864 square feet according to its tax card. It was sold, unremodeled, by a real estate agent for $630,000 in October 2005 and another agent relisted it after the remodeling for $989,000 in March 2006. Our local MLS shows that it expired unsold and I hope that’s true, but Trulia shows that someone paid $960,000 on July 28, 2006. All that magic was performed by one of my colleagues. Nice work.

Another house, one that is actually very nice, if a tad geologically challenged, is 72 Laddins Rock Road in Old Greenwich. It sold as new construction for $1.3 million in July ’04 and its buyers re-listed it, with a Greenwich agent, for $1.850 million in February last year. That was an unrealistic price, at least from my perspective with my head tucked away where it is, and its price slowly dropped. A few months ago I mentioned it in this blog and suggested that it seemed somewhat over-priced. I wasn’t telling anyone anything new, because the market had spoken during the past nine months and said exactly that, but I still received a phone call from its miffed listing agent, complaining that I was hurting her sellers. I hope not, and I wasn’t trying to; I was just reporting on what I saw. Regardless, without any commentary whatsoever, I will now report the latest news about this property: its price dropped to $1.375 today.
UPDATE: I just heard from “Greenwich Realtor” – he was actually responding to one of the commentators who seems to think that Realtors make the market. Oh well. We do have some really good, professional people in our ranks (of whom Greenwich Raealtor is one, which is why I was so surprised to track down his identity) and then we have some who wouldn’t know a zoning regulation from a wet bar. Takes all kinds.


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14 responses to “Professionalism (and manners) among Realtors

  1. pulled up in OG

    So it (Laddins Rock) is still over-priced by a few years.

    • christopherfountain

      I hope not – it’s a nice house. But the market is not rewarding recent purchasers right now.

  2. pulled up in OG

    Hey, that would price it at a time in which it did not exist. Oh well . . . $#!% happens.

  3. Front Row Phil

    You, sir, have a lot of chutzpah for a ex-attorney.
    Good for you.

  4. touched a nerve

    So, the realtor sitting in the choice end unit does have time to read. By the time most properties get to MLS, they are either way over (sucker) price or it is a property that even the realtors don’t want. The realtor lives by a code of ethics (I’m in the business to find the sweet deals and make some money since it is a business). The only good properties are sold privately without the use of a realtor.

    Mr cinocal

    • christopherfountain

      In fact, old cynical, some of the worst priced sales I’ve seen – both under market and over market – came in private transactions where the property was never exposed to the full market. I’ve seen sellers, so delighted to avoid paying a commission, sell waterfront property for millions less than it was worth (and then watched as the buyer flipped it a year later and reaped those millions) and I’ve seen buyers do themselves in thinking they were getting a steal when in fact no one guided by experience or an experienced agent would pay anything like what the schnook was paying.
      But if you’re happy with how things have worked out for you, no problem here.

  5. Stanwich

    Let me know if you need a bodyguard….I know people.

  6. dr antell 5.7 mill 133 pars prop

    This bold surgeon seems to have an answer to realtors-do it yourself at 133 Parsonage. Through on-line assessments, transaction records of a block, even a $400 real estate appraisal, you can largely get the price right and sell it yourself and save the commission and public scutiny of realtors looking at the “product” (home) like it is another piece of meat to sell.

    The “say anything” realtor just wants to make an easy buck. Many Greenwich realtors could just as easily sell apples (has the Depression hit) or sellclothing at Richard’s for what they “know “about real estate.

    Very few take any interest in exploring the history of the property. Since things sold like hotcakes in the past, they did little. Now, the realtor better provide the syrup and butter.

    I think dr Antell is on to something, it is called

    Laugh now, it will be the norm 5 years from now with our love of the internet and on-line business interest. And get comfortable in that end unit, Mr. Realtor.

    – Mr. Cinocal

    • christopherfountain

      Uh, Cynical? has this pal of yours actually sold his house? It doesn’t seem so but at least he didn’t pay no stinking commission!

  7. Mr. Cinocal

    Realtors may want to hang Mr. Cinocal. However, the buyer is starting to laugh at the market that could be seen 4 years ago.

    -Mr. Content

  8. SizeBuyer

    Private transactions are a suckers bet for the buyer. There may be an occassional score but for the most part those transactions have to undoubtely benefit the seller as the buyer has no idea what the market will bear!

  9. Pink Fuzzy Slippers

    Can’t take it anymore…finally have to chime in. And by the way, Chris, I am one of the realtors you can still count as a friend, as I am all for free speech while it lasts….

    I can’t tell you how many clients I have counseled who bought direct thinking they were getting a steal but now can’t sell and realize they foolishly

    There is a reason why our business model works and will continue to do so…the MLS is a pretty cool thing. You are not only telling 1000 agents that your house is for sale, but they are telling their buyers and so on. This seems like a pretty good way to establish fair market value…if you list it, they will come.

    I know real estate agents are about as beloved as lawyers (funny you have done both) and when I was a little girl growing up in Smalltown, Ohio I never told my teacher “when I grow up I want to sell real estate in Greenwich, CT!” but that, somehow has been my fate. But when I get to the closing table and all is said and done, clients usually tell me that they don’t know how I do what I do…the hours I put in, the hand holdling, the research, the 24/7 hours, etc. I guess my answer is, Social Work doesn’t pay enough for me to pay my rent. And I adore Capitalism…so sorry my daughter will never get the chance to experience the opportunity if things keep going the way they are…

    To those Freakanomics fans who think we will be become extinct, I have one word for you… Remember that wave of the future?

    One last thing…the agents I do business with in this town…the truly good ones who have been around…are some of the most interesting, ethical people I’ve ever been in contact with and I count my blessings that I am lucky enough to work with them. I would have never met such dynamic, inspiring, true professionals and that is why I love going to work every day and sleep just fine at night.

    Keep on Bloggin’

  10. long for the days-but see the future

    The days of the personal realtor, Sammis & Chadsey, Thomas E. Cooke, or Ladd & Nichols, are now long gone sadly. Just a few really dedicated brokers who often had some good deals to share clients on a notecard or back pocket.

    Now with the hedge fund wife or spec builder spouse getting a real estate card to be a broker also makes the whole profession “cheap”.

    The least the “modern” realtor can do is get some good pics of the house, or maybe snoop through the P&Z or Building dept files on a house, or kick the tires, or at least know the keybox code.

    Do not be surprised if the next Bloomberg comes along, computerizes everything from appraisal to comparatives with the Town files on one “Sell-IT-U-Self” listing and makes it simple to sell a house yourself. Hopefully, this will get all the amateur realtors in this town to step aside in the name of progress.

    Some unemployed hedge funder or college grad from MIT is already working on the model. Change happens.

  11. Anon E. Moose


    I just came across this thread on a word search, and though late to the party, I thought I’d offer $0.02. If I thought a typical middleman added value to the transaction, rather than just be a vapid transaction cost, I’d gladly pay the freight – and make no mistake the buyer is the only one bringing money to the table, so they pay EVERYBODY regardless of how the pea is hid and sliced. As I see it, if MLS were available to the general public, even for a fee, most in that business would have no idea how to add value to the transaction. Did you know a NY barred attorney can waive the exams and get licensed as a RE broker? (Then again, you probably did, natch.)