Real estate news nuggets: Agent with a record, @REConfidential, and the haunted flip flick

A global roundup of real estate industry items of interest

Ghosts, injured-client lawsuits and other sightings from a very broadly defined real estate landscape:

The Myrtle Beach Sun-News has published an editorial calling for the state of South Carolina to beef up its requirements to include criminal background checks for those applying for real estate licensing in the state.

The editorial came in the wake of the arrest of Hilton Head agent Darrell Finch, who is the focus of an investigation into the theft of jewelry from several local homes for sale.

Finch was arrested in July on a "fugitive-of-justice" warrant issued in Savannah; the warrant accused him of selling jewelry missing from several homes for sale on Hilton Head to a pawn shop in Savannah.

The apparently vague phrasing in South Carolina’s real estate license application allowed him to dodge disclosing that he had been arrested less than a year earlier in Florida and charged with grand theft, credit card theft, trafficking in stolen property and failure to appear in court, according to the Beaufort Gazette.

The South Carolina Association of Realtors is already pushing for stricter licensing requirements, including background checks, the Sun-News reported.

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Tweeting dirty laundry

Real estate war stories in 140 characters or less. That’s the concept behind @REConfidential, which Redfin began as a way to keep track of the "odd to downright disgusting" sights that its agents experience during home showings, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Tweets such as "Common sense would be to remove your Orgy in Progress sign as part of a home staging, right?" and tweeted photos of such oddities as a cache of weapons (including an assault rifle) in an upscale Chicago home show up on the Twitter feed, which has more than 1,200 followers.

The folks who handle the feed don’t tweet anything that could compromise the identity of the seller or affect the viability of a deal, according to the Tribune report.

He’s too nice? Really?

Now, here’s a movie plot line: a "horror/comedy" about ghosts, demonic possession and real estate. 

That would be "The Selling," an indie film that recently was picked up by Internet distributor GoDigital and will be online Aug. 21, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film, which stars Barry Bostwick ("Cougar Town"), Simon Helberg ("The Big Bang Theory") and Janet Varney ("Entourage"), tells the story of "too-nice" real estate agent Richard Scarry (get it?) as he sets out to fix up a house to flip and discovers it’s haunted.

The film (see trailer, above) has won numerous film-festival awards, including five from the Los Angeles Comedy Film Festival.

They’re baaaack!

Residential real estate jobs are starting to make a comeback, according to a couple of reports.

Re/Max has grown by more than 1,300 agents year to date, the first such increase since 2010, according to a company-generated report.

On a local level, the Portland (Ore.) Business Journal reported that the state has about 1,000 more persons employed in the real estate industry than one year earlier; about 31,700 Oregonians were employed in real estate in June, it said. Still, the sector’s employment levels are well below its 2007 peak.

Maybe they’re drawn to the money. The Business Journal’s network of publications reports that 336,600 real estate firms in 843 metro markets employ 1.97 million workers. The sector’s average annual salary is $40,300, the Business Journal reported.

Warm welcome

A Franklin Township, N.J., brokerage has sued for damages and a permanent injunction against a man who lives next door to a house it is trying to sell. The brokerage, Churchill Estates, claims that the neighbor has yelled at prospective buyers in a threatening tone, telling them not to buy the house. It also claims that the man "drove away any and all buyers who had a genuine interest" in the house, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The neighbor told the newspaper he had never been disrespectful to anyone at the home and that he has "no gripe or beef" with the listing agent.

Not the agent’s fault

A man who fell while touring a home for sale in Michigan in 2008 — breaking his ankle, wrist and elbow — has lost his lawsuit against his real estate agent. Michael Davies blamed his agent for his 4-foot fall in a dark garage in a house that had no electricity at the time.

But a Michigan appeals court ruled that agent Sandra Johnson and Greenridge Realty isn’t liable, because she did nothing to create the hazardous condition and had no duty to inspect the house for such hazards, according to a Lansing State Journal report.

Mary Umberger is a freelance writer in Chicago.


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