Arizona real estate agent Paul Ng is facing misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges and has been fired from his brokerage over a racist incident in which he told two black men that the area in front of his condo is “a no-n—- zone.”
Andre “Dre” Abram, a 25-year-old YouTuber, and his roommate were recording a podcast on Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale on Friday, Oct. 23 when Ng approached the men saying he wanted to see what they were taking pictures of and saying that there had been “problems” in the neighborhood, to which Abram said he didn’t care and that Ng doesn’t know him, according to footage of the incident posted by the New York Post.
“Do you know a lot of white men are doing racist things in this world, sir?” Abram asks Ng, who says “no” before saying, “I’m a racist. I’m a racist. So what’s the issue?”
“OK, that’s fine, so what’s your point?” Abram says. “Why are you here?”
“Because this is a no-n—-r zone,” Ng says.
“It’s a numbing feeling,” Abram told local news outlet 12 News. “Someone is seriously doing this to me right now? And at that point, it’s, ‘Be smart, be smart.'”
Abram posted the video on his social media channels and as of Tuesday evening his post on Instagram had almost 300,000 views. “This isn’t OK,” Abram said. “This isn’t allowed anymore.”
Ng was arrested after the video went viral, according to 12 News. The news outlet said they spoke to Ng off-camera Monday and he said shouldn’t have said what he did. Ng reportedly told police he was concerned about riots and the safety of his family.
A police officer interviewed Ng at his home on Saturday asking him if he understood that his comments could provoke a fight, according to the Daily Mail.
“He said he ‘did not see why there was so much energy wasted on the incident. Paul was certain that the incident would be forgotten within a week,'” the paper said, citing a police report.
The officer arrested Ng and he was processed and released on his own recognizance, the paper added.
The incident comes as the National Association of Realtors, which has 1.4 million members nationwide, is proposing controversial changes to its professional standards to crackdown on racist and discriminatory speech and behavior among members. If implemented, the changes would apply NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice to all of a Realtor’s activities, not just those related to real estate; would prohibit hate and harassing speech against protected classes; would prohibit all discrimination, not just willful discrimination, against protected classes; and would recommend that ethics violations be considered under membership qualification criteria, among other changes.
According to the Arizona Department of Real Estate, Ng has been an agent with Russ Lyon Realty Company, now Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, since Nov. 4, 2011. The brokerage officially severed its relationship with him on Oct. 25. Ng’s license is inactive.
Ng is no longer a Realtor, according to NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams.
“[B]ecause of his actions, Paul Ng was terminated from his brokerage immediately and thus is no longer a member of NAR,” Williams told Inman via email.
Ng will be permitted to re-join NAR if the Arizona Department of Real Estate allows him to retain his license and he joins another brokerage, Williams added.
Williams pointed to the policy proposals NAR’s board of directors will be voting on on Nov. 13 “in an effort to address hate speech incidents such as this.”
“If passed, these recommendations would prohibit Realtors from using harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity in any context,” Williams said.
In an emailed statement, Rebecca Grossman, CEO of the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, told Inman that the association had inactivated Ng’s Realtor membership at the local, state and national level after Russ Lyon Sotheby’s notified the association of his termination. The trade group also posted this notice to its website:
Hate Speech? Not in Our House.
The Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors was appalled when a recent video surfaced showing a former member making ethnic slurs. This conduct is not condoned. We supported his immediate termination by his broker and removed him as a member. The association is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of conduct in the real estate profession and expects all agents to refrain from hate-speech.
Asked whether Ng could could re-join the association if he joins another member brokerage, Grossman said, “As per NAR legal counsel the local association would have the ability to invoke the bylaws provision that requires members to safeguard and promote the standards, interests, and welfare of the association and the real estate profession and deny membership.”
Inman has asked whether the association would do that in this case and will update this story if and when we hear back.
In a statement posted on the brokerage’s website and social media channels, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s director of marketing, Nadine-Angela Sciarani, said: “On Sunday we learned of an extremely hateful and racist video that was posted to social media showing one of our inactive Independent Contractors, Paul Ng, demonstrating abhorrent, unacceptable behavior.
“Upon learning of this video we took immediate action in severing his license, terminating his involvement with us effective immediately and condemning his disgusting behavior. Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty does not, and will not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind. Period. Never has. Never will.
“We have notified the Arizona Department of Real Estate pertaining to his severance as well as Sotheby’s International Realty, the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, ARMLS and National Association of Realtors. In addition, we are notifying the Arizona Department of Real Estate of Ng’s behavior with the recommendation that his license be revoked.”
Sciarani added, “Though Ng had not sold a home with us in two years, commissions we find going back further than that will be donated to local charities.”
Inman found at least one recent sold listing for Ng of a condo sold in May in which he was listed as the seller’s agent. That listing went back on the market in August with a different listing agent at Russ Lyon Sotheby’s. A spokesperson for Russ Lyon Sotheby’s told Inman that “listing was incorrectly reflected in [Arizona Regional MLS] as closed. We had asked ARMLS to update to the correct status of Canceled.”
Several commenters on Russ Lyon Sotheby’s Facebook page thanked the brokerage for its quick response, but others wondered why Ng felt so comfortable making those racist statements and questioned whether the brokerage condoned his views until he got caught. “That man didn’t just get racist we know the code now,” wrote one commenter, Arshieal Johns. “He’s in the club until caught, then he’s on his own.. and the rest of y’all hide behind fake apologies.”
Another commenter, Whitney Hughley, expressed a hope that there would be “some serious discussions within your company as well as investigating if minorities were denied or overlooked due to his overt racism.”
Undated reviews of Ng posted on agent matching site HomeLight all reference his racist views. A reviewer who said Ng had showed him homes said he “[u]sed racist references in conversation.” Another said, “This individual should not be allowed to carry a real estate license due to his blatant use of racial slurs, derogatory statements and demeanor.” It’s unclear whether the reviews and Ng’s one-star rating were posted before or after the viral video.
HomeLight’s profile of Ng says he is a “top dollar real estate agent” and a “single family home expert” who “has sold homes in as little as 30 days.”
According to the Arizona Department of Real Estate, Paul Ng took a class called “Fair Housing For Real Estate Professionals” on Oct. 20, 2019. The course was offered by a private school in Scottsdale, Training Cove.
Inman asked Russ Lyon Sotheby’s for comment on the Facebook comments, whether there have been any other racist incidents involving Ng in the past nine years he’s been with the company, whether the firm was aware of Ng’s racist views, whether Ng took the above-mentioned fair housing course through the brokerage and whether the brokerage offers or requires fair housing training. The brokerage declined to comment.
“Our official statement stands and we will not be answering any further questions,” the firm said in an emailed statement.
Ng is no longer a member of Arizona Regional MLS, according to ARMLS CEO Matt Consalvo.
“When the broker took the action on Sunday to terminate the relationship with the agent his MLS services were automatically and immediately revoked. All access to MLS solutions (including lockbox key services) ended at that time,” Consalvo told Inman via email.
“If the Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE) allowed him to retain his real estate license then he would be able to re-join under a different brokerage. If his license is suspended, revoked, or terminated by ADRE he would not be eligible for any ARMLS services.”
Inman attempted to reach Ng by phone but his voicemail box was full and a text message went unreturned. Inman has reached out to the Arizona Department of Real Estate to ask if they will be taking any action against Ng and will update this article if and when we hear back.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, an additional comment from the National Association of Realtors, and an additional comment from Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.