Rookie Diary: William Pecora Talks About His Referral Dispute

In the fifth month of the series, the rookies up their work pace during the busy selling season.

June 1, 2004

William Pecora, 25

RE/MAX Real Estate Ltd.
Brick, N.J.

June 2004

It’s been one of those months. I’m in the middle of a dispute over a referral. Oh, my God. I need to get this off my chest.

I had a client who was selling her house and relocating to Florida. So I sold the house—for $60,000 more than the highest recorded price in her neighborhood, I might add—and referred her to a RE/MAX salesperson in the area where she was planning to move.

Unbeknownst to me, though, my client made a few inquiries on her own. Evidently, she called 15 or 20 salespeople down there to inquire about different properties.

Somewhere in there, apparently, she talked to the salesperson to whom I was already in the process of referring her.

Now this salesperson is telling me I’m not entitled to a referral fee because she had prior contact with the client! I can’t believe it.

I gave this salesperson contact information and also told her what kind of house my client was looking for. I also encouraged my client to work with this salesperson exclusively. I did everything by the book. And now, I feel like I’m getting shafted. I’m not really sure what to do. Do I fight this? Chalk it up to experience? I figure I’m owed anywhere between $1,800 and $2,500. It’s really upsetting.

I’ll tell you one thing, though: I’m never going to refer anybody to that salesperson again.

Meanwhile, my on-again, off-again land deal—the one I thought had definitively died last month—suddenly came back to life and got settled. The listing in question is 29 acres of mainly wetlands. The question all along has been how much of it is buildable. I represent the sellers.

Last month, the buyers we had been negotiating with—and who had given us $30,000 in earnest money—dropped out after an environmental report indicated the land might not be cost-effective to develop.

At least that’s what they said. They paid for the report. We never saw it. Anyway, that seemed to be the end of it.

However, the buyers came back with an offer to buy the land outright for the $30,000 they had already put down. My clients, who are retired and just want to get on with their lives, said yes.

Well, what are you going to do? I didn’t think it was a very good move—and I told my clients so. We actually had a competing offer for $50,000.

But my clients have been trying to sell for a long time and had one offer after another fall through or not get approved, so they just decided to go with a sure thing.

Finally, I scored a new listing this month—a four-bedroom Colonial. I know it well. I represented the seller when she bought it a year ago. And if there’s any doubt that real estate is doing well, consider this: The price a year ago was $245,000. This time around, however, we listed it for $309,000. I don’t think we’ll have trouble selling it.

Robert Sharoff is an architectural writer for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. With photographer William Zbaren, he has produced books highlighting the architecture of Detroit and St. Louis. He is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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