Update by user Jun 24, 2018
We are writing this correspondence in reference to Coldwell Bankers improper marketing, negligence, and breach of contract regarding the sale of our home at 52 Galen Street, Waltham, Massachusetts. We have had serious concerns regarding Coldwell Banker’s treatment towards us in listing and marketing our home for sale.
Coldwell Banker is contractually and ethically obligated to meet certain obligations under the Listing Agreement—specifically to use “reasonable efforts to procure a ready, wiling and able Buyer of the Property” and have the “fiduciary duties of an agent including accounting, care and competence, confidentiality, diligence, disclosure, fairness, good faith, honesty, loyalty and obedience to lawful instruction.” Your agents have been the exact opposite—deceptive, incompetent, lackadaisical, sloppy, unreasonable, and unprofessional to us. Coldwell Banker and its agents have taken gross advantage of our elderly status and reliance on your expertise and have made attempts to have Mr. and Mrs. Kasuba undersell their house by approximately $100,000, based on your own appraisal.
Either Coldwell Banker failed to do a proper appraisal of the home or they have failed to properly market the home—there is no other reasonable explanation of your failure to sell the home. Rather than trying different marketing strategies or proposing creative solutions to sell the home, your agents falsely blame us for their own inability to properly market and sell the home. We no longer have any faith in Coldwell Banker and its agents’ ability to adequately sell our home and ultimately wish to terminate their Listing Agreement with Coldwell Banker and be made financially whole. On May 31, 2017, Dave DiGregorio, of Coldwell Bankers, Waltham, MA, provided a market analysis.
This report showed that comparable properties currently on the market were listing between $619,900 to $599,900, comparable properties under contract were between $629,900 to $599,900, and comparable properties that were recently sold were between $650,000 to $600,000. In addition to providing material on the pricing of their home, this report also providing lengthy information about Coldwell Banker, bragging about having 120 offices and over 5,000 agents in New England, claiming to have expertise in this field, detailing market strategies, partnerships, agent branding, and several awards held by Agent DiGregorio. He assured us that the house was worth $629,900K and would sell quick as it was a better house then other homes in neighborhood at the same price point. We informed him that we wanted to sell in the spring and were intending to purchase a home in a 55+ community.
We proceeded to purchase a new const 55+ unit in Plymouth, Ma, signing a P&S in Aug/2017. Our close date on Plymouth was to be July 3, 2018. When the Plymouth property approached us to move the close date to May 3, 2018, we contacted Dave DiGregorio and asked if that time would work for the sale of our current house. We were assured that the house would sell for the $629,900k and that the time frame would be great as we would be beating the spring ‘rush’.
We indicated at that time that the refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer were negotiable. So based on Agent DiGregori’s confidence his price of $629,900 was valid, we proceeded with both the sale of our Waltham home signing a brokerage agreement Jan. 23, 2018, and with the accelerated close date of the Plymouth property. Based on the Market Analysis, we had every reason to believe that we would be receiving upwards of $619,900 for our property.
However, we were informed and reassured by Agent DiGregorio that we would receive between $629,900 to $619,900, and he would have “no problem” selling our home. We followed his every advice down to his recommended movers (Road Warriors) to pack up (and declutter) our home for $948.77 and put items in storage, where it has sat for the past four months at $180/month. We trusted Agent DiGregorio would sell the home quickly as promised, and this would be minor cost for us but our loses are multiplying daily. It was also your agent’s decision to set an initial listing Price of $629,900.
Weeks went by, the open houses had 20+ people, supposedly great feed back, but no offers. We had open houses every Sunday 12-1:30 pm, and always accommodated every showing request. As far as we know, Dave DiGregorio never hosted an open house. We were getting worried and stressed, we needed to sell our house in order to purchase the Plymouth property.
We were constantly assured that the $629,900 was a valid price and the house would sell quick. After about 25 days Dave DiGregorio advised us to lower price. He said he could definitely sell the house if we lowered price. We wondered what happened with the $629,900 market analysis.
We were getting very anxious for a sale and were getting very stressed. So we agreed to lower the price to $609k. We made it clear to Dave DiGregorio that we stood to loose the $52k deposit on the Plymouth property if the house didn’t sell soon. Still no offers were forthcoming.
Our stress levels were getting higher, and were not in a financial position to loose $52k. Many sleepless nights followed. We then had a tough discussion with Dave DiGregorio. We informed him that we were not happy.
We were at this time committed to the Plymouth property and would stand to loose $52k if we could not proceed with the sale of the Waltham home. Dave DiGregorio got very indignant and his comments were laced with profanity. His flimsy excuses were all things that he was fully aware of when he did the Appraisal and should have accounted for—(1) a small back yard, (2) an alleged smoke smell in the screened-in porch from cigar smoking outside the house, and (3) water in the basement after a period of extremely unusual and heavy rain. “Water levels in Boston reached the third highest on record, a 1-in-100-year water height—which means that there is a 1% chance in any given year that waters level would reach that high.
More remarkable, the number one and three spots in Boston’s record books are now occupied by water levels reached during two storms this winter.” (retrieved from https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/nor’easters-pummel-us-northeast-late-winter-2018) This water issue is not something that happens during regular rains. We usually we get some water during the spring thaw - but not that magnitude. It has more of a nuisance , other wise we would of dealt with it 11 years ago. By now, neither of us were sleeping well, usually waking up at 2am and unable to fall asleep again.
The stress was getting to us and depression over the situation was setting in. We then looked into some basement waterproofing companies. We got some quotes for a french drain, however neither company could do the work till later in the summer. They were backlogged due to the nor’easters that dumped the record rain in the area.
We were willing to put money in escrow to cover the cost of the basement work. Please note: we had plenty of work done on the house (replace boiler/hot water heater, 8/2009; composite deck built, 6/2008; had asphalt driveway removed and had pavers driveway and patio installed, 4/2008; chimney repair work done,3/2007; new kitchen appliances, 1/2007; had Rebath redo the bathroom, 6/2008; had new pro windows installed, 2/2008; installed a pellet stove in the fireplace, 9/2010; reinsulated the house, 3/2010; and had the roof replaced, 11/2014). We believe this shows that were diligent in maintaining the house and if the water in the basement had been more than a nuisance, we would of have that work as well. That was the last we heard from Dave DiGregorio.
Massoud Atallah, VP and branch manager then got involved and things went from bad to worse. After the house was on the market for an additional 29 days, Mr. Atallah advised us to drop the asking price again—this time to $575,000—far below any range in the Appraisal and approximately $25,000 below the lowest value of any comparable properties in the area. No explanation was given as to the dramatic decrease in pricing except for the water seepage in their basement.
We diligently sought quotes from Contractors to fix the seepage and made sure the warranties would extend to the next owner. The quotes to install a French drain and completely fix this minor issue costs no more than $7,500 and does not reflect a dramatic $54,000 reduction in the asking price. We have acted very fairly and agreed to put $8,000 in escrow for the repairs. Again, let me stress—a $7,500 problem does not explain why the home’s price was placed $54,000 below the appraised value.
As we were getting extremely desperate and stressed to sell and meet our contractual agreement with the Plymouth property, we agreed and also renegotiated the agents fee. We had a few conversations with Massoud Atallah. But we were then passed on to another agent in the office, Michele Lebrun. She came and hosted the Sunday open houses.
Always telling us it was a ‘positive showing’ and ‘positive feedback’. But still not one offer. Rather than trying to see the basement and devise a marketing solution, Mr. Atallah attempted to blame us for this issue and accused us of lying.
He disrespectfully and sarcastically called the problem a “swimming pool,” distorted the problem, and dismissed our concerns. There is no water damage in the basement, no mold issues, and no active leaks. The water seepage only occurs during the spring thaw, after a prolonged period of heavy rain and snow. I don’t believe he ever entered the house.
We asked Michele Lebrun why the house wasn’t selling. Michele Lebrun made a comment that maybe the house was priced to high. We said that Dave DiGregorio had done the analysis. Michele LeBrun then stated that she was not Dave, and was filling in as a courtesy.
Michele then said that if we were her clients, she would recommend that we lower the price to $525k, $100k less than the market analysis and all the assurances that we could sell at the $629,900k price. Even at the $575k price we would be stretching our finances thin to proceed with the Plymouth property. Being retired, we were not able to qualify for financing for Plymouth, unless we were to raid our retirement accounts and thereby jeopardize our future income. Our stress levels were skyrocketing.
As Michele Lebrun was not the listing agent we still needed to speak with Massoud Atallah. We wanted out of the brokerage agreement and left several messages for Massoud Atallah. Our phone calls were ignored and went unanswered. Our house was on the market before the spring rains.
We had three open houses before the water seepage occurred, with the first one having 27 people in attendance. Not a single offer was received. The attempts of Mr. Atallah to inaccurately place blame on the basement seepage to make us, an elderly couple believe that their property is worth $54,000 less than what Coldwell Banker’s original Appraisal is completely unacceptable, unfair, and deceptive.
Mr. Atallah went as far as to discourage a showing of the house during a rainy weekend because he did not want to “highlight” the water issue. However, we were very comfortable having an open house during the rainy weekend because we were confident the issue is not what Mr. Atallah made it out to be.
As it turned out, the basement remained completely dry through out the rainy weekend. Mr. Atallah is adamant on creating a problem that does not exist in order to justify his ridiculous advice that the property be listed $54,000 under what the house was initially valued at and $25,000 below any of the other homes in the neighborhood. We then talked with Anna Shapiro at Shapiro Law Group, P.C.
in Woburn, MA, on May 4, 2018. Anna Shapiro advised us to write Massoud Atallah at Coldwell and tell them we were unhappy and wanted out of the brokerage agreement. Which we did on May 4, 2018. Massoud Atallah’s response was “I have forwarded your request to our legal department, and I ask that you give us until Monday to sort things out.
In the meantime, I’ve been made aware that we should anticipate an offer from yesterday’s showing, and will forward to you upon receipt.” We requested that Coldwell Banker remove its lockbox and sign, return our key, and asked to be released from the Listing Agreement. The lockbox has since been removed, but the sign has not. Furthermore, Mr. Atallah has refused to allow us to terminate the contract, despite our request and several complaints with dealing with your company.
Instead, we were blamed and falsely accused of being deceptive in not disclosing water seepage which is patently untrue. After receiving threats of termination because we had yet to receive one offer, Coldwell’s agents were magically able to come up with a “bona fide” offer from a Tamara Melville. Another agent, Michele LeBrun, sent us a text message with a picture of a check at 10:09 am on Saturday May 5, 2018 in the amount of $5,000 purporting to be earnest money for the purchase of 52 Galen Street, but nothing on the check indicated that it was for the specific property. Then a mere two hours later, Ms.
LeBrun sent another text at 12:02 PM informing us that the buyer decided not to move forward with the offer, despite having already pledged the $5,000. On Monday morning, presumably after Mr. Atallah had spoken to Coldwell Banker’s attorneys as he intended to do, Ms. LeBrun again emailed with an offer from the same Tamara Melville for $525,000.
This was $104,900 below the initial appraisal and asking price. Ms. Lebrun dropped off the offer and left, with no explanations. The offer was for $525k, all appliances (including refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer) and have the work done in the basement, before the closing date of June 3, 2018.
The refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer which never part of the appliances we were including, and Michele Lebrun knew that the basement companies we contacted were not able to do the work for 2-3 months. Atallah called this a “bona fide offer” and refused to let the us out of the Listing Agreement. The Listing Agreement specifically said you would use “reasonable efforts to procure a ready, willing and able Buyer of the Property in accordance with the price of this Agreement.” Presuming “the price of this Agreement” is referencing the listing price, an offer $104,900 below the initial listing price is not a reasonable offer nor does it reflect any reasonable effort.You could sell any property if you lower the price enough and get an offer, but this is not what your listing agreement promises when it states, “reasonable efforts” and “care and competence.” An offer $104,900 below the initial listing price is as good as no offer at all. Then on the afternoon of Monday, May 7, 2018, Michele Lebrun calls and said she is dropping off an offer from the person who declined to follow through with the offer on Saturday, May 5, 2015.
Michele just dropped off the offer and left. The offer was for $525k, all appliances (including refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer) and have the work done in the basement, before the closing date of June 3, 2018. Our initial thoughts were that this was not a bonafide offer. We based this on the fact that the offer was $50k less than the current price of $575k, included the refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer which never part of the appliances we were including, and Michele Lebrun knew that the basement companies we contacted were not able to do the work for 2-3 months.
Also the time frames in the offer were way to quick. Apart from this offer being grossly low, we were relying on the money from the sale of our property to purchase the Plymouth property and cannot afford to lose over $100,000. After receiving this allegedly “bona fide” offer with an incredibly low price, and we no longer fell we could trust Mr. Atallah and his agents to be loyal to us, protect our best interests, and provide expert knowledge concerning the sale and pricing of our home.
We had our Attorney respond with a counter offer. Which we never heard back from. Faced with the reality that the agents we hired could no longer be trusted, we set the price of our home back to $629,000 to protect ourselves from losing over $100,000. It is very possible that due to the irreversible actions of Coldwell Banker and it agents, we will never be able to get the full value of our home having raised the price after having lowered it.
By not letting us out of the Listing Agreement, Mr. Atallah is attempting to force our hands to sell at a lower price rather than doing any work to effectively market this property and stand by Coldwell Banker’s appraisal. Even after forcing the us to stay in contract, Mr. Atallah has failed to put forth “reasonable efforts” to market the house.
After having an open house nearly every Sunday in February, March, and April, we have not had a single open house since the conflict with Mr. Atallah started. We have requested that open houses take place every Sunday as before, but Mr. Atallah has only put forth a weak excuse of not being able to require independent contractors to do open houses and sat idly by while we are sick with worry.
Not only does this show his ineptitude and unwillingness to go forth and market a home him self in dire times, it showcases Coldwell Banker’s lack of resources and ineffectiveness despite having 5,000 agents in New England. Coldwell Banker has failed the us and failed to fulfill their fiduciary duties at every turn. Either Coldwell Banker failed to do a proper appraisal of the home or they have failed to properly market the home—there is no other explanation of your failure to sell the home. Firstly, as a result of the circumstance listed above, Coldwell Banker’s aims of taking advantage of an elderly couple, deception, unfair misrepresentations, unprofessional dealings, blatant disregard, and reprehensible and irreversible damages by Coldwell Banker, we seek to be unconditionally released from the Listing Agreement with Coldwell Banker.
Secondly, we would like to request the name and contact information for your general liability and professional liability insurance carriers as we intend to file a claim against you for the inevitable losses that will occur on May 23rd when we lose our Plymouth property and the $52k deposit, due to Coldwell Banker’s failures and many false representations. Since the incident happened while Coldwell Banker was representing us in a professional capacity, we trust that this will not be an issue for you. It is well established in Massachusetts Law that we are also entitled to recover for, among other things, your negligence, your breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair and deceptive acts. As an agent of ours, you owed us “utmost good faith… [and was bound to conduct [your] self with entire fidelity to [your] principal.
Doujotos v. Leventhal, 271 Mass. 280, 282 (1930). Equally well established is the “faith-less-agent” doctrine, which dictates that “an agent who is guilty of disloyal conduct towards his principal may lose right to compensation.” Little v.
Phipps, 208 Mass. 331, 333— 34 (1911). Even if some services were properly performed, and even if the principal benefitted from those services, an agent’s inappropriate conduct may completely destroy an agent’s right to compensation. Chelsea Indus, Inc.
v. Gaffney, 389 Mass. 1, 13—14, (1983). As such, if you do not release my Clients from their listing agreement and this house sells, we would like to request that your return your full commission fee to my Client as compensation for the injustice that they have incurred by your breach of duty and good faith.
Ultimately, we feel a great injustice has been done to us, and we request that you take responsibility for your breach of fiduciary duties that led to this unfortunate situation. Please be assured that we will not hesitate to litigate if necessary to make us whole. In the event that we need to turn to the Courts, we preserve all rights to seek up to treble damages as well as attorney’s fees and costs under M.G.L. c.93A §2 which you are liable by for, including but not limited to, your failure to comply with the industry rules and regulations, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, as well as your unconscionable strong-arming of my Clients.
We feel exploited. The market analysis obviously was incorrect. We were constantly assured that the $629,900 was a valid price and the house would sell quick. Then Coldwell kept wanting to lower the price.
We feel we were emotionally and financially abused. To give us a market analysis of $629,900 and then wanting to reduce it to a figure of $525k were traumatic events for us. Plus the loss of the Plymouth property, is of great disappointment, along with the deposit we will loose. We feel we are owed cost of hiring an attorney.
Had we been let out of the contract when we asked, we would not have incurred $10,715.37 in fees. We incurred $2,320 in moving and storage costs.
We incurred a loss of $26,000 from the deposit on the Plymouth property. We would not have pursued the Plymouth property had we been give a sale price of $525,000.
Original review posted by user Jun 23, 2018
We are making this complaint in reference to Coldwell Bankers, Main St., Waltham, MA office’s improper marketing, negligence, and breach of contract regarding the sale of our home at 52 Galen Street, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Our agent, Dave ** did a CMA and priced our home at @$619,000 to $629,900 in May 2017. We wanted to know the homes value while looking for a retirement community. We found a place, told the agent Dave ** that we would be ready to sell in the spring. Meanwhile the new property contacted us that our new home could be ready in May instead of July. We contacted agent Dave ** who said enthusiastically that would be a great time to put our house on the market, and that we would beat the spring rush. He emphatically ensured us that the $629,900 was a ‘good and valid’ price for our home.
6 weeks go by, not one offer. Dave blamed the 1)small back yard, 2)the smoking done on the front porch and 3)subsequently, after 3-4 dry open houses and numerous viewings, the 3 Nor’easter storms that caused water in our basement.
We were passed on to another agent, and then another. Each agent told us to reduce the price. The final price was $575,000. We requested to be released from the contract, but Coldwell Banker would not release us. We had to hire an attorney, at our cost, to be let out of the contract.
Coldwell accused us of lying, being unrealistic, and uncooperative. We were sworn and yelled at. Their unprofessional behavior was acknowledge by their attorney.
Not only buyer beware but sellers must also beware when dealing with Coldwell Banker.
Product or Service Mentioned: Coldwell Banker Realtor.