Vanishing views and sleazy brokers

In January 2005, Curbed noted

an apartment for sale on Water Street being sold on the strength of its fabulous

views – views which, it seemed, were doomed. Last month, the new owner

of the apartment wrote

to The Ethicist:

The sellers’ fast-talking real-estate broker assuaged our fears that new

development might block the spectacular river views. We subsequently learned

that development is planned within two years.

The new development is now going

up for approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The architect

is Morris Adjmi, who specialises in the placement of modern buildings in historic

districts. But the new owner of the Water Street apartment is predictably not

impressed, calling the proposed development a "monolith".

Today, Curbed gave

some advice about whether a view might or might not vanish:

You may be saved if your view overlooks a landmark district. Some people

think landmark status is sort of like garlic to ward off evil blood-sucking

developers. But other people claim to have seen developers blow right through

the Landmarks Commission with a few well-placed political contributions and

a pretentious architect nattering on about contextual green design.

The Seaport development, it’s worth noting, is in a historic district, but

there’s no doubt that something is going to go up on that lot.

The main thing for a prospective buyer to do is never believe anything the

seller’s broker says. In this case, the broker was Jon

Phillips, a guy who lied and lied and lied, saying, among other things,

that a view-blocking development could never be built in the first place because

of the crappiness of the landfill. What Phillips did was extremely sleazy, and

in fact it was illegal.

Have a look at the Real

Estate License Law of New York State. Specifically, have a look at §443:

In dealings with the buyer, a seller’s agent should (a) exercise reasonable

skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties; (b) deal honestly,

fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to the agent materially

affecting the value or desirability of property, except as otherwise provided

by law.

Phillips knew that the lot in question had been sold to a developer who was

planning a tall building which would destroy the views which were the main selling

point of the apartment. That’s a fact which certainly materiallly affected the

value and desirability of the property; yet far from disclosing it, he made

it his business to deny that it could be true. Which meant that he was not dealing

honestly, fairly or in good faith.

So maybe the first thing you should do if you’re worried about a vanishing

view isn’t look at Property Shark: it’s look at the broker. If it’s Jon Phillips

of Halstead, run away.

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3 Responses to Vanishing views and sleazy brokers

  1. David Sucher says:

    “Phillips knew that the lot in question had been sold to a developer …”

    Just out of curiosity, how do you know that he knew?

  2. Felix says:

    Because I told him.

  3. David Sucher says:

    I imagine that that is testimony that will work in court. 🙂

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