Racial Red Lines in Brooklyn?

The National Fair Housing Alliance is not pleased with some real estate agents in Brooklyn. Janny Scott reports:

The National Fair Housing Alliance, a consortium of 220 groups and individuals working against housing discrimination, charged yesterday that agents in the Brooklyn Heights office of the city’s largest residential real estate brokerage, the Corcoran Group, had engaged in discriminatory sales practices, including racial steering and withholding information from African-American clients.

“During our 16 years of existence, the National Fair Housing Alliance has never seen such a literal and blatant example of sales steering,” the group wrote in a report detailing its allegations. In that particular instance, the report said, an agent “produced a map of Brooklyn and drew a red outline of the areas in which the white home seeker should consider living.” The agent used arrows to indicate neighborhoods that were “changing.”

“This racial steering tactic is reminiscent of discriminatory conduct from the 1970’s, when real estate agents would go into white neighborhoods with the specific intention of triggering white flight by showing on a map where an African-American family had bought a house,” the alliance wrote. “This Corcoran Group agent applied a new trick — he used a map to tell whites instead where they should ‘flee to.’ ”

I want to first point out the obvious and that you can not judge an entire company, in this case The Corcoran Group, by one agent’s alleged utterly stupid behavior.

What an absolute moron if these charges turn out to be true! Real red-lining! Wow!

I suppose that a company with thousands of real estate agents potentially (nothing proven yet) has a “bad seed” among them.

I see this as an excellent opportunity to further discuss the hiring practices of the large firms. For the most part, the new agents that I see entering the industry with the larger firms like Corcoran, Prudential Douglas Elliman, and Brown Harris Stevens seem to be quite a cut above those who were entering the industry 15 years ago when I first began my career. They bring a greater level of professionalism, an understanding of integrity, and fresh ideas to a marketplace that desperately needs changing. That said, I have met some agents with all of these companies who really make me wonder how they convinced their respective firms to hire them.

In fact, I have a perfect example of one such individual. Not long ago, my wife and I were going to purchase a property from a seller who was an acquaintance of the family. We never actually bought the place but I did receive two terribly alarming phone calls not long after our interest had waned.

The first phone call from the seller went something like this:

-Hey Doug, it’s Bob (not his real name). Guess what? We sold the house finally.
-Yeah Bob! That’s great!
-Guess how I did it Doug?
-How Bob?
-Well, we had this interested buyer who had visited several times so I first told them that we had other strong interest… ha… meanwhile, no one else had even come to see the place… Good right Doug?
-Uh… tell me more Bob.
-Well, they made an offer! And get this… after they made the offer, I told them that we received another higher offer so they raised their offer! Ha! I couldn’t believe it! It felt so good! Then I kept playing the “real” buyer against this “fake” buyer until they bid $300,000 more than what we were asking!!! Am I good or what? I should be in your business!

My thought… what a scum bag! My response was that that’s not really how we do things. I would bet that Bob could have gone to these people and said that he wasn’t willing to sell for less than X and he likely would have gotten the same price. There is finesse and there is blatant lying. Now he is in my industry with a very skewed concept of how to do business. As far as I’m concerned, he’s tainting the already bad reputation of real estate brokers.

Now the second phone call about six months later:

-Hey Doug. Guess what? Just got a job on Long Island selling real estate with one of the big companies. Maybe you can send me referrals?

Don’t think so but good luck Bob.

This guy now works for one of the big three on Long Island. I wouldn’t want to do business with him, I can tell you that much.

Again, in an industry with such low barrier to entry, it’s impossible to weed out all the bad apples. One can only hope that they  rot before they do too much damage… unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have been the case in Brooklyn.

This entry was posted in A Broker's Job. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.