Sep 04, 2023 at 11:00am

Five Times Real Estate Agents Found Themselves in Hot Water

Reporter: Therealdeal

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Labor Day is a holiday to celebrate workers and how their — our — efforts have contributed to making the U.S. the most prosperous country in the world. Which makes it a perfect time to highlight the not-so-great contributions some workers, namely real estate agents, have made in sullying their, and the industry’s, reputations, not to mention exposing themselves to potential civil and criminal liability. Here are instances where agents’ behaviors cost them their livelihoods. Milk doesn’t do an agent good OK, so this incident took place in Canada, so a superfluous “u” must be added to make it Labour Day, which apparently is also celebrated by our neighbours (you’re welcome) up north today. In July 2022, Canadian real estate agent Mike Rose was thirsty before a home showing.

So he grabbed a milk container out of the refrigerator, took a swig and put the container back. A Ring camera caught the unsanitary act and Rose was ultimately fined the equivalent of about $15,000 USD — for actions “unbecoming” under the British Columbia Real Estate Services Act. He was also fined nearly $2,000 in enforcement expenses. The incident made international news, and in the words of “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy: “Milk was a bad choice.” Hiding instead of showing Real estate agents are masters of highlighting the best parts of homes during showings. But Jill LeVere, an Ohio agent, had her license permanently revoked after admitting to lying to a commission about building a wall to hide part of her basement to avoid a higher tax bill, the Newark Advocate reported in 2014. LeVere told the commission that her basement was not being rented out and did not have a kitchenette.

An inspection did not turn up any evidence of a rental unit, which would have been in violation of her town’s ordinances, but further inspection revealed that she had a wall constructed to hide the rental unit. Despite the outcome, LeVere appears to be back in business as an agent in Ohio, which allows people to reapply for their licenses after they’ve been revoked. Coffee talk The New Jersey Real Estate Commission in January revoked the license of the wife of the mayor of Morristown in the wake of a political scandal. Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter SIGN UP By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy. Mary Dougherty was banned from practicing real estate for one year for violating state law.

While the charges brought against her in 2019 didn’t involve her real estate career, the commission decided to punish her to maintain public trust in licensees. Prosecutors alleged Dougherty accepted $10,000 in cash in a coffee cup from attorney Matthew O’Donnell in September 2018, when she was running for Morris County freeholder.

When she discovered the cash, she allegedly told the lawyer that she couldn’t take it, but could accept checks, which O’Donnell then allegedly provided under different names and entities. Dougherty ultimately pleaded guilty to filing a false report to hide illegal campaign contributions and she was given one year of probation and forced to surrender the contribution. She can reapply for her license after the ban, though she will be subject to a two-year probationary period, and her employer would have to notify the state commission of any potential violations. At the time of the exchange with O’Donnell, Dougherty was an agent with Re/Max Select.

Two years ago she joined Compass Real Estate. Racist rant Self awareness is a virtue, most of the time. But no credit goes to Scottsdale, Arizona, agent Paul Ng for admitting on a video taken by two Black men that he’s a racist and that his residence is a “no [n-word] zone.” “I’m a racist,” Ng says on the video outside his condominium, according to the New York Post.

“I’m a racist. So what’s the issue?” Ng was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and fired from his job at Russ Lyon Sotheby’s Real Estate Agency. The agency also contacted the Arizona Department of Real Estate and recommended that Ng’s license be revoked. Sex and the Hamptons In 2021, agents Christopher Burnside and Aubri Peele decided to use a three-bedroom condo in the Hamptons for activities unrelated to its listing. The owners filed a lawsuit alleging that rather than soliciting offers for the home, the agents used the guise of an open house to engage in a “sex-capade” in its primary bedroom. When confronted, the lawsuit claims, Burnside confessed to using the bedroom for a sexual encounter and offered to continue the listing with zero commission and fulfill his fiduciary duties under the exclusive contract.

He also allegedly offered to rent the condo personally to offset the defendants’ financial damages. The lawsuit, which alleged that Burnside and Peele breached their contractual and fiduciary responsibilities in addition to inflicting emotional trauma on their clients, sought $100,000 in damages. The lawsuit was ultimately settled with a confidentiality agreement.

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