The Greenwich Association of Realtors escalates its drive to shut down this blog

Buggy Whip maker speaking power to truth

Years ago, a GAR member got me fired from the newspaper that ran my column by threatening to remove all his firms’ advertising (and wasn’t that a great demonstration of  editorial backbone?).  I moved over to the Internet and bumped my readership from a few thousand Greenwich residents once a week to a daily worldwide readership of 12,000, so I was grateful for the assistance.

Two weeks ago the GAR moved against this  blog by threatening to sanction me for daring to link to its MLS data, and that prompted me to do what I’ve been too lazy to do before: I will have a work-around up within the next few weeks which will allow me to use all that data but will refer readers to my firm instead of to another GAR member. So thanks again.

But last week the GAR crossed the line and filed a complaint against me personally with the Greenwich Police, claiming that I was threatening the life of an employee; more particularly, posting about the new “Zombie Bullet”, a joke product, and my stating that,

Hornady introduces a zombie bullet. I’m off to the shooting range this morning where I intend to fire ordinary ammunition but I’ll be driving past the cave of the Evil GAR Princess so ….

The two detectives I spent an hour with last week were professional, courteous and almost apologetic but as they explained, a complaint of a very serious nature had been filed and they had no choice but to investigate. And I agree – I have no problem with detectives doing their job and indeed I’d expect them to do the same thing on my behalf  had a threat been made against me. Of course I actually exist: the GAR Evil Princess is as imaginary as zombies, but that’s a quibble – the complainant withheld that crucial piece of information when speaking to the police.

I hold no special animus against the GAR employee who was apparently the complainant – employees do what they are told to do and clearly the woman was at the very least given permission to do what she did and more likely given both permission and encouragement.

So that leaves us with the Greenwich Association of Realtors itself, a monopoly run by and for the benefit of the small handful of brokerage firms here in town: Sotheby’s, Coldwell Banker, Prudential, Ogilvy and Associates and Greenwich Fine Properties (soon to be swallowed by Sotheby’s rumor has it). Them I don’t like, and their behavior is beyond the pale. Attacking my blog and trying to shut it down because I threaten the hegemony of these firms is just business – trying to destroy me as an individual, placing my name into police investigative files as a dangerous psychopath, that’s personal, and I’m pissed off.

So today I am filing a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s Anti-Trust division and our state’s Attorney General. That’s for starters. A private lawsuit against certain GAR members for defamation of character and tortious interference with my business? Depends on how much time I want to waste on pisant little people so desperately trying to hold back the tide, attempting to preserve a business model that became obsolete twenty years ago.

Transparency has arrived in the real estate market. Brokers no longer have a monopoly on information, and the sooner these individuals acknowledge and accept that, the sooner they can begin focusing on justifying their existence by providing service to buyers and sellers, rather than exploiting real estate customers’ (former) ignorance. They can take a lesson from their previous efforts to silence me, which only made me stronger. I’d suggest they re-watch “The Terminator” , but that would probably only generate another complaint filed with the police. Maybe I’ll just send each GAR owner a subscription to NetFlix and let them stumble upon the film themselves.

44 Comments

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44 responses to “The Greenwich Association of Realtors escalates its drive to shut down this blog

  1. Anon

    Good for you, CF! Guess you’re happy you have that law degree now, aren’t you?!

  2. A huge fan!

    You go Chris!

  3. Cobra

    Time for a FWIW Legal Defense Fund! Any financial services readers out there willing and able to set one up? I’ll sure as hell contribute.

  4. Stanwich

    Well, there hasn’t been much real estate news, this should provide some entertainment. Just when I thought this blog was getting boring………..

  5. Walt

    Dude Man –
    This sounds like serious stuff!! You know I have your back, 100%, and totally believe in free speech, and your right to post moronic drivel whenever you want. Even though you want me to “tone it down”. You little weasel.

    Anyhows, should we march on the Castle? I can whip up sandwich signs in no time!!

    But you have exposed them for what they are. Greedy, narrow minded, selfish, self-centered little sluts with no sense of humor. They think they are better than all of us, and don’t know how to act as civilized human beings. They are vile. They waste police resources on this? They should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no character. The blue haired dirt peddlers, not the police. I respect the police, although I wish they would cut me a break on running stop signs.

    So was this toned down enough? I hope so, I really tried!! And what do you mean the GAR Evil Princess doesn’t exist? Then who have I been banging in the CVS parking lot?

    Want to meet for lunch so we can strategic a response?
    Your Pal,
    Walt

  6. Anonymous

    A lot of folks are behind you on this. My suggestion is to let a few days pass in order to cool off, and then decide how far to take this. Their business model is doomed regardless of your efforts. Life’s short, and the outcome is inevitable.

    • I thought I’d cooled off after they blocked, temporarily, my access to MLS data, but they keep coming. Still, good advice. we” see what the DOJ does, if anything, to divert these people’s energy to a bigger problem, but the personal lawsuits can wait.

  7. AJ

    Nothing is more is more methodically relentless than a terminator, not even the flying fish/piranha hybrids (yes folks they can fly) in Cameron’s first movie “Piranha II: The Spawing” as displayed in the Gathering of the Grunion Festival scene where everyone marches across the beach to the shore chanting, “Let’s get the fish, let’s get the fish”, then mayhen. Oh no, one guy’s got one on stuck his forehead flapping and wiggling away, chewing a hole in his head — movies don’t come any better than that! Offence is the best defence.

  8. Peg

    I have one message for them: “Be careful what you wish for.” I’m betting they are going to regret – deeply – that they took you on.

    And – congrats to you, my friend, for fighting the good and righteous fight. I think that we philosophers are hardwired to love that sort of thing……. 🙂

  9. While you are in DC you can crash at my pad down there.
    Perhaps you can help with the escalating recovery of Calf Island in your spare time.
    Advertizing rights only count now that Suethemall and Shays gutted property deed codicls so Crummy could swim in a bipartisan taxpayer funded bankruptcy pool of money.
    Our own Solyndra with RINO participation.

  10. Dude 27

    GFP properties is not going to Sotheby’s; Lyn Stevens joined Sotheby’s after divorce from Doug Stevens. No way is she going to work with him again. SO GFP will be looking for another suitor or Doug may actually have to return to work after many years of “managing”

  11. Anonymous

    a worthwhile fight. good luck

  12. Passive Observer

    Chris,

    Congrats to you for being a champion to this cause. I support you, and if called upon, would testify to all of the anti-competitive activities that I, a Greenwich home buyer and home seller, have been subjected to over the years.

    If you are successful in your pursuit, the market for Greenwich real estate, at the margin, will improve, as transaction costs will diminish and buyers and sellers will be able to communicate more freely, increasing liquidity in the marketplace. To the extent that transaction costs fall by one percentage point, or values rise by just one percent, homeowners (myself included) will benefit. A one percent increase in a $1,000,000 home is worth $10,000, and I would gladly share that benefit to foster the cause.

    As an act of support, put me down for $1,000 to start the fund.

    Just give me mailing address, and I’ll send a check.

    PS: I also suggest that you establish a “Greenwich Housing Fair Dealing” proclamation, and have residents of Greenwich sign it in a vote of support. We’ll turn Greenwich into the epicenter of a homeowner’s revolt against unfair trade practices. The oligopolistic stranglehold on the market has to stop.

  13. Anonymous

    yeah the shooting comment was pretty dumb. i was wondering if (or when) someone in gar was going to use that against you as an alleged “threat.”

    that aside, i wish you all the best in the fight and will enjoy watching things unfold. give ’em hell!

  14. Inagua

    Best of luck on your noble endeavour. I stand with Cobra as a supporter of a defense fund. Why not let grateful readers contribute to at least the out of pocket costs? Many of us helped the band, and we would welcome the opportunity to help with the lawsuits as well.

  15. anon

    Good luck! I wonder if the Greenwich Time will cover the story?

  16. Matt

    Keep up the good fight, Chris, I’m pulling for you.

  17. dogwalker

    I understand that when serious threats are made, or allegedly made, there must be an investigation. (There is some sort of State mandate on that, no? In some arenas, at least?) But equally, are not GPD obliged to take some sort of action when confronted by someone who is demonstrating what appears to be significant mental illness? . . . Like imagining that someone talking about cartoon characters is threatening their life?

    • I’m not faulting the police here. The complainant seems to rather grandiously assumed the title of GAR Evil Princess even though she appeared at the GAR and in Greenwich years after the term was first coined by Evil Walt, and led the police to believe that she was in danger of a deadly attack. Yes of course she’s a loony tune but the GPD couldn’t know that at first, just as they mistakenly thought that the Greenwich Association of Realtors is a legitimate organization. I was treated well by the cops, they emphasized several times that they didn’t want to interfere with my right of free speech and it took them all of five minutes to figure out that if anyone had a screw loose in this situation, it wasn’t me. So what’d we do with the rest of the hour? Beats me, but I’m still okay with how I was treated.
      The GAR sure wasted a huge amount of police time and taxpayer dollars on this – it looked to me, judging from the voluminous stack of print outs from my blog that two cops must have spent at least a full day chasing after a chimera. Sheesh.

  18. a@a.net

    On slow news days (like today), you may want to consider sending the details of your complaint to some business news sites who enjoy a good muckracking – like clusterstock or ny post. It may not help you win, but it will focus some eyeballs from potential customers and residents, as their articles get passed around.

  19. HH

    Maybe you can develop a separate website that is the Greenwich version of http://www.StreetEasy.com in Manhattan (much better information than Zillow). That will surely blow everything up and make you a ga-zillionaire in the process. Not sure why anyone has not already gone thermonuclear on this whole outrageous Greenwich real estate universe. These old-school GAR type brokers have ridden the cash cow long enough and they are holding on for dear life to the inevitable crumbling wall.

  20. CatoRenasci

    This is gonna use up a whole lot of popcorn! You go get ’em Chris!
    But, remember the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client – take exquisite care you keep your eye focused on the main chance here!

  21. AJ

    You would think that the GAR would have a lawyer they consulted with before taking actions that might have unfavorable legal consequences. Even second rate homeowner’s insurance usually comes with a 1-800 number you can call for free legal advice — probably not the best, but certainly better than acting without thinking.

  22. The Duke of Deception

    As the Duke’s late father used to say: Go get ’em Tiger!

  23. Anon

    Go for it! You’re fighting for us all!

  24. Anonymous

    Forget Zillow or Trulia: I’d start linking your house blog posts to the listing info at GAR’s own website, open to the public. It’s a MESS, so poorly run. Take this for example: 18 Grahampton. Click “see all 11 photos” and have a good laugh.
    http://my.greenwichrealtors.com/mls/view/profile/sysid/1600?type=Residential&area=Greenwich&price_lower=3%2C000%2C000&price_upper=5%2C000%2C000&br=4&ba=4&acres=&save=search

    Two other houses I looked at had misinformation or broken photo links, so seems to me that if GAR can’t even run their own house, who are they to tell you how to run yours? Go get’em.

  25. Georgie

    Go Get’em CF!

    Too many people sit on the sidelines hoping the other guy will “one day” take the issue on……I applaud you for going out and doing it.

  26. Libertarian Advocate

    Wow, not sure how I missed this post. Evidently the complainant never heard – or at least understood – the old saying: be careful what you ask for, you might very well get it.

    If you change your mind and do start a fund to kick-start this THANG of yours, I’ll kick in some bucks too (so long as I get a back row leather reclining seat like they have in high end Bangkok movie theater VIP sections with their attending friendly masseuses), unlimited popcorn and all I can drink Singha beer.

  27. Start A Competiting Real Estate Listing Service - (Fountain Association of Greenwich Sellers) or (FAGS) for short - that should get some attention internationally!

    With 12K hits a day on your blog, you should encourage Greenwich Real Estate sellers to list with you instead of GAR. When you list with MLS, does that preclude you from listing the house elsewhere yourself?

    • GAR usually demands, or asks for, an exclusive listing, but here at the as-yet-to-be-announced new firm of whoever we are might want to offer a GAR listing at a significantly reduced commission on the understanding and agreement that there would be no advertising except on this blog. Expensive real estate ads do nothing but promote the advertising brokerage firm anyway, and if you could save 1.5% of the 5% commission, say and still be seen 12,000 times a day by readers interested in Greenwich real estate (plus, of course, they’d find your house on all the other firm’s websites, plus Zillow, plus Realtor.com, etc.), that could be a good deal. You’d save $45,000 on a $3 million dollar home, for instance, while still having the same exposure to the marketplace and we’d be driving the GAR nuts. in fact, as I think this through while writing, it strikes me as such a good idea that I’ll forward this reply to Fudrucker and see if he wants to pursue it.

  28. Hemp4367

    A lot of people with too much time on their hands here.

  29. pulled up in OG

    Haven’t seen GPD around lately.

    Recused? : )

  30. When it kicks in let’s rent a plane and head for that movie theater in Bangkok…

  31. Greenwich Gal

    Glad you are finally doing something about the subversive GAR harassment of your blog. You also have a civil rights suit here as well. I am with Cobra and Inagua and will contribute to your defense fund as well should one get started. Burn the boats! There is no turning back!

  32. “I’d suggest they re-watch “The Terminator” ”

    So, after reading your post, I guess what you are essentially saying to the entrenched RE community is:

    “Come with me, if you want to live!”

  33. GPD Folk

    Still here Pulled Up….poke my head in everyday so I guess I’m still one of the 12,000. I try to keep my comments restricted to topics I’m familiar with or have a strong opinion on……Let’s just say I’m passing on this one…….but I am rooting for one side. 🙂

  34. Just_looking

    Like any bully, they must be confronted.

  35. This is a pure retaliation move by the GRA and why CT needs better anti-slapp laws. Story here is GPD needs to investigate GRA person for filing a false complaint.

    • While there is only one “Theresa” employed by the Greenwich Association of Realtors and her last name is indeed Hatton, I was never talking about her because I don’t know her, met her maybe twice in however many years she’s been employed here and couldn’t care less about her, her life or her fears. She seems to have been put up by her boss(es) to complain about me to the police but she was “just following orders”. My beef is with the GAR, not some poor schlump doing their bidding.