The level of professionalism among Greenwich real estate agents

So my clients offered a bit under $3 million for a property listed for $5.1 million. We received this response:

My clients are very appreciate [sic] of your offer and would like to counter @ 4,099,000. 
Okay, that’s a substantial drop, so our offer goes up and is submitted to the agent together with the comparative sales that we’re basing our bid on (including the sale for $3 million of the adjoining lot two weeks ago). And we receive this response:

Hi Chris,
I made a terrible mistake.  Their counter was actually 5,099,000.  I had 4.1 on the brain for some reason.   The point being that they were insulted by the offer.  This was a way of  expressing. 
So we have here an illiterate agent who can’t keep track of what her listing is selling for, tries to insult the buyer and blows it, then comes back to make sure that she’s offended him and driven him away. “Still here? Go! Shoo!” Trust me, we’re gone.
If you seek evidence of the robust strength of the Greenwich real estate market, consider that agents like this one managed to make a living selling houses for the past decade. It gives me hope, actually; if house sales survived and even thrived under this kind of skilled negotiating, how much harm can a wee depression cause?  



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27 responses to “The level of professionalism among Greenwich real estate agents

  1. pulled up in OG

    Does Hiram tutor arithmetic too?

    Hope this isn’t the one you mentioned earlier, Chris,
    where the seller took a dollar off.

  2. with an agent and seller that appear to be a perfect match- dumb and dumber – at least you know what you’re up against,

  3. anonymous

    CF, if it makes you feel any better, I know many equally absurd stories of stunning incompetence of $5MM+/yr M&A bankers at top 2-3 IBs

    Many, many inefficient markets out there (otherwise wouldn’t have so many wealthy, self-made kids in Manhattan or Silicon Valley, right?)….chronic shortage of talent, even in lucrative, highly competitive industries staffed w/those who are usually alums of top 10% of undergrad class from Wharton or Harvard or Stanford (post ~’95, only the true retards need to get MBAs to rise through the IB/PE/HF ranks)

  4. Wally

    It sounds to me like something else happened here, and the client changed his/her mind. This was not a typo – the first response from the broker was genuine and makes sense in tone, etc.

    • christopherfountain

      There are more details that lead me to believe that the first email was indeed a mistake and that seller and agent intended to tell the bidder to piss off, but perhaps not. In which case, I feel sorry for the agent for having been put in such an embarrassing position. Oh well, there is always another bus coming.

  5. Front Row Phil

    I wonder: if your client had offered less would they have raised their asking price more? Chris, please keep us apprised of this one. I especially want to know when they lower their asking price. A seller who reacts this emotionally during a business negotiation is comical. An agent who conducts herself this unprofessionally is pathetic.

  6. Stanwich

    Hilarious, this agent sounds like a douche-bag of the first degree, and we all know there are many on the Greenwich real estate scene…..look no further than some agents’ infatuation with putting their pictures (from about 20 years ago) on whatever marketing materials they can. It’s just absurd, and so un-Greenwich.

  7. Kidding Really??

    That broker is going to starve as will all of the brokers who are out of touch with economic reality.

  8. Cos Cobber

    Chris, my friend, I just don’t know if you should be sharing these discussions in such detail until the dialogue is well into the rearview mirror.

    This is my visceral reaction, ‘for whatever it’s worth.’

    • christopherfountain

      Excellent point, Cos Cobber, and one I struggled with. I may indeed have come to the wrong decision – your comment adds support to that – so I’ll probably yank the posting or at least disguise the incident a bit more.

  9. Peg

    I had 4.1 on the brain for some reason.

    This Realtor has a brain? Wow; coulda fooled me.

  10. OGRCC


    please do tell storis of stunning incompetence.

    :start sarcasm:

    oh and our universities are really turning out great talent….. the envy of the world. not to mention our wonderful and fantastic primary and secondary schools (oh which i am a product of).

    :end sarcasm:

  11. xyzzy

    I think your frustration is direct at the correct person now. The Seller doesn’t want to take a loss. They don’t care what the true value is for their house, they want their price. Not smart but understandable.

    The Agent on the other hand is horrible. They handled the seller wrong and they handled the bidder wrong. If the Agent had any clue they would know what the true value of the house is. (They may think 4.1 which is where the number came from..) They should be working the seller down to that level not indulging in their delusion.

    The bidder should have been told that there really was no counter that the seller, even after being shown the comps, was staying with their offer.

    This agent has worked in the era where pricing and hold brought a buyer up to your price. They are in for a rude awakening.

    • christopherfountain

      XXYYZZY, I agree. I have a builder/client/friend who has a bit of a temper and three times, when I presented ofers on one of his projects, he said, “screw them!”. At the worst, an agent in that situation should do as you suggest and get back to the bidder that no counter-offer will be forthcoming. Better still, if possible, is to try to keep the spark of interest alive by moving even a liittle ($1 doesn’t count) and see what develops. Because my friend is, at heart, a smart businessman, I was always able to argue him into authorizing me to comes back with, say, a $50,000 drop. In all three instances, we ended up sellingto that original bidder. Really just simple negotiating skills – be polite, try to keep communication open and see what develops.

  12. xyzzy

    Follow up: (Delete if you wish)

    Well it took me all of five minutes to figure out which house that was and who the agent is. Just look down the list of houses you published earlier to find what houses sold for $3.0 and then look at current listings for $5.1 million houses and you can find the listing and the agent.

    Good info to have if I have to deal with that agent in the future.

  13. Jane

    A simple “Thank you for your interest in this property, but we won’t be making a counter offer at this time” was all that idiot needed to say. Rude and stupid is a terrible combination!

  14. Retired IB'er


    I wonder about the mistake…

    Your description makes it sound like you countered the $4.099 million, raising your original bid of just under $3 million. If so, I wonder if the agent’s email was a clever plan to get you to bid against yourself in the first round? And then from a higher number try to start the real negotiation.

    Just a thought…

  15. Mr. Cinocal

    Find me a “professional realtor”, please.

  16. Independent

    What I often found, it is not just the agent that messes up the deal. It is the seller consulting with their attorney. And the attorney provides wrong advice, “hold out longer, you’ll get a better price and/or that buyer is not the real deal and they are low balling you”…

  17. Chappy4me

    I vote for a Broker Score Card, to be published on the website of the company for whom the agent works. Further, publish Broker Feedback on agency websites, as eBay does for buyers/sellers. Here’s what I envision:

    Susie Jones, Realtor since 1993
    **** Rating/ 600 Positive Feedback/21 Neutral
    Total sales =
    Individual listings brought to the agency
    How many times broker for Seller
    How many times did broker SELL his/her listing
    How many times broker for Buyer
    What was the average discount gotten for buyer
    How many times agent for both sides
    Average length of time to sell listing
    Buyers and sellers today really have to do homework to find the right broker for a property. A four-star rating or lots of sales, IMHO, does not necessarily equate to the ability to sell my house or negotiate a good deal for me as the buyer. I might look for the hungry broker, perhaps one with less number of sales but more desire to work hard for commission. Being able to write a complete and grammatically correct sentence helps too!

  18. Walt

    Oh Boy. Mr. Cinocal wins. By a rocket shot. I have been busy the last few days working on the treatment of “Mr. Noel Takes a Vacation” (it’s gonna kick butt) and I am just getting caught up on the going’s on in here.
    I am DISGUSTED by what I see. YOU should all be wearing the pampers, NOT ME!!! Put on the BIG BOY PANTS AND STOP THE WHINING. Does the stock market suck? DUH. YES!!! Have Greenwich real estate prices dropped drastically? DUH. YES!!! Should you all be immune to this because you live in GREENWICH??? You all obviously think so, but I got news for you – get off your friggin high hors…. Uh – wake up and smell the friggin coffee. You pamper pissing babys.
    You don’t fart roses. Even though you think it’s your birthright because of your friggin ZIP CODE. It is a difficult, challenging world out there right now. So wake friggin up!!
    So my answer to this problem? At least in the short term?
    OFF TO BASILS!!!!!
    Your Pal,

    • christopherfountain

      We were getting worried by your absence, Walt – welcome back. Did you see yesterdays’ WSJ article about alternative careers pushing hot dogs to tourists? Did I not suggest that very idea to you a few days ago? Who loves ya, baby?

  19. Walt

    Chris –
    I think I need to place you under the cone of silence. From memory, when I was reading the older posts, you were describing your illustrious professional career (HAH!!!), and you stated you had a job where you… you… ground up… this is hard for me to say… Hors.. meat into dog meat? YOU ANIMAL!!
    I hope you jest. But if you do you, you somehow find this amusing? I amuse you how Henr.. Oh forget it. Did that already. But the HORROR!! The HORROR!!
    Back to WORMING!!!
    Your Pal,

    • christopherfountain

      Ground up horse meat at Pet Pantry, back when it was on Milbank Avenue, just below that crazy guy’s $8 million house on Ridge Street. Turned me off hamburger Walt, let me tell you. The stuff came rancid in big 55 gallon drums. I’d grab a 10 lb. slab of the rotten, stinking stuff with a meat hook, fling it at my pal Chip, another high school kid, and wrap it around his head. He’d yank it off, toss it on the floor and wing some hamburger at me. Then we’d scoop the whole mess, now coated with sawdust, off the floor, toss it in the hopper with some suet and a good dusting of penicillin and grind away. It came out nice and pink and sweet-smelling and as I stuffed the crap into plastic bags it occurred to me to wonder if hamburger intended for humans was made the same way. So I went into philosophy instead of meat packing.

  20. Walt

    You made me throw up in my mouth a little. And I am getting a restraining order to keep you 50 yards away from the Filly’s (S.I.H).
    Your Pal,

    • christopherfountain

      Come on, Walt, don’t worry so – they don’t turn breeders into dogfood, and those filies (filly’s) of yours look prime, man, prime! Although I suppose Monica is getting a bit long in the tooth and that son in law Andres looks like he could pretty much fill a barrell all by himself. You don’t have much use for him any longer, I wouldn’t think, unlsess its to sell 5000% of your hot dog venture. We should talk.

  21. pulled up in OG

    Better make it a furlong, Walt.