Prominent Sarasota real estate agent Roger Pettingell and Coldwell Banker Realty have been sued over a $ 4.8 million Bird Key transaction by a potential buyer and seller of the property, according to lawsuits filed in County of Broward.
Barry Cohen, the buyer who lost the property, accuses Pettingell of manipulating the sellers into choosing a buyer that Pettingell also represented to receive both sides of a commission on a property of 4. , $ 6 million, plus $ 200,000 for furniture.
For years, Pettingell was the best real estate agent in the Sarasota area. Last year it eclipsed $ 175 million in closed deals. He and Coldwell Banker Realty, a named party in the lawsuit, deny the charges.
“I have built my business and my reputation on a solid foundation to always act ethically, professionally and with integrity,” Pettingell said in a written statement to the Herald-Tribune. “Anyone can file a complaint and make unproven allegations. In my 35 years in the business, I have never had an ethics complaint or lawsuit against me. It is incredibly disappointing. that I now find myself in this situation and because there is a lawsuit I am not free to comment as I would like.
“However, what I can say is that the allegations that have been made have no basis and I am confident that I will be justified by the legal process for any alleged wrongdoing.”
The property on Royal Flamingo Drive was listed in February 2021 for $ 4.495 million.
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The lawsuits revolve around whether Pettengill provided full disclosure of the offers for the property and whether he acted honestly and fairly in the transaction, requirements for licensed real estate agents under Florida law.
The lawyer representing the sellers, who filed a lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $ 30,000, plus a reimbursement of the commission, did not respond to an attempt to discuss the lawsuit.
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Cohen told the Herald-Tribune that he and his wife were in love with the property and made an offer with an escalation clause in the contract that would have matched any offer up to $ 5 million.
“It got my wife excited,” Cohen said of the property. “It seemed like the perfect house.”
However, when they learned that their bid was unsuccessful and that a bid under $ 5 million had been made, he decided to drive to the property to see if anything could be done. .
“I was upset,” he said. “Maybe it could be reversed. I was prepared to offer $ 5.3 million if there was a way to reverse it.”
When he got to the property, he said, Thomas Davenport, the seller, was standing outside.
According to Cohen, that’s when he learned that key facts about his offer would not have been presented to the Davenports. The lawsuit also maintains that only the winning offer was presented in writing and that all other offers were only presented verbally.
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Pettingell told the Davenports, according to their lawsuit, that another offer was “the cleanest” and that an inspection clause in Cohen’s offer would allow them to opt out if there was a problem with the property.
Cohen said his real estate agent, Georgia Salaverri, told Pettingell that the inspection clause could be lifted if the seller demanded it, before speaking with the Davenports.
Salaverri is also a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in the downtown Sarasota office. Pettingell operates from the Longboat Key office at Coldwell Banker.
Cohen says they complained to Coldwell Banker about the way the transaction was handled, but he was referred to Pettingell, which Cohen contends shows Coldwell Banker’s failure to properly supervise his agents.
Cohen says he even tried to buy the contract from the person who ultimately closed the property, but was unsuccessful.
Cohen said Pettingell then found another home on Bird Key that he could buy for $ 6.5 million, but would have to pay both his real estate agent’s commission and a commission to Pettingell.
Cohen ultimately bought this property on Spoonbill Drive in the Bird Key neighborhood for $ 6.5 million, according to property records. Combined with fees and commissions, Cohen paid $ 6.89 million for the property, according to the lawsuit.
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Cohen considers the practice a “general danger”
The damages Cohen alleges in his lawsuit include the price difference between what he allegedly paid for the property on Royal Flamingo Drive and what he ultimately paid for the property on Spoonbill Drive, he said.
Cohen understands that many people won’t feel much pity for a man complaining about not succeeding in a $ 5 million real estate transaction.
“I know no one is going to say ‘poor Barry’,” he said. “But it’s a much bigger issue of fairness.”
He said he believes real estate agents representing both sides of a transaction happen more often than people realize. This can be a problem, he said.
“I may have been manipulated outside of the house,” he said. “But they (the Davenports) were certainly handled with a lot of money. It’s outrageous.”
He called the practice of realtors representing both sides of a transaction “pervasive danger” in the industry.
His lawyer presented statistics on the number of “two-way” transactions among the top 20 real estate agents in the Sarasota area. According to the attorney’s information, Pettingell represented both the buyer and the seller in 22 deals, or around 29.1% of his deals.
The data appears to come from the Multiple Listing Service which tracks properties for sale and for closings happening across the country.
Coldwell Banker Realty Representative Says This is “Industry Standard Practice”
Pettingell’s percentage of those deals was not out of the ordinary among Sarasota’s Top 20 Realtors. Some have had as much as 36.9% of their transactions involving both the buyer and the seller. Two of the top 20 agents did not have “two-way” deals.
“This is standard practice in the industry,” a Coldwell Banker Realty spokesperson said in an email. “Roger acted in full accordance with state law.”
The Herald-Tribune has requested any complaints filed against Pettingell’s real estate license with the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. No complaints have been filed, according to a spokesperson for the agency.
Alex Krumm, president of the Sarasota and Manatee Realtors Association, said all realtors are required to follow a code of ethics that has been in place for over 100 years.
He said that realtors should present all offers, but that it is not mandatory to present all offers in a particular format, although he said in his opinion that the best practice would be to do so in some type of written format.
“I advise everyone to meet in person if possible and if not, meet on Zoom,” he said.
He said complaints against a real estate agent about violating the code of ethics can result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the group. Pettingell is a member of RASM.
Krumm said he was not aware of any complaints against Pettingell, but if he was, he would not be able to disclose it either.
However, Krumm argued that in the vast majority of real estate transactions in Sarasota, all offers are disclosed and the best offer is ultimately chosen by the seller.
“We subscribe to this code of ethics to ensure that buyers and sellers have all the information and so that they can make the best decisions,” Krumm said. “In almost all cases, it happens.”