Sandy ends legal squabble
Two real estate agents come to agreement on disputed joint commission
by Amanda Palasciano
Reporter staff writer
Nov 25, 2012 | 4093 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A CHARITABLE RESOLVE – Prudential Castle Point Realty and Sawyer Smith Residential Brokerage (not pictured) decided to donate joint commission.
A CHARITABLE RESOLVE – Prudential Castle Point Realty and Sawyer Smith Residential Brokerage (not pictured) decided to donate joint commission.
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Not all bad has come of Hurricane Sandy. Two local real estate agents, one in Hoboken and one in Jersey City, have ended a long commission dispute thanks to the storm.

Kevin Dowd of Prudential Castle Point Realty in Hoboken and Sawyer Smith of Sawyer Smith Residential Brokerage in Jersey City have long argued over a little less than $5,000. The matter has gone to arbitration and back, with no resolution in over a year. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both real estate agents have finally come to an amicable agreement – to donate the money in half to charities in their respective towns.

He said, he said

Kevin Dowd, a full-time realtor since 2007 at Prudential Castle Point Realty, 626 Washington St., received a listing for a property at 232 Pavonia Ave. in Jersey City in early 2011. Dowd said the original seller bought the property as new construction.

The seller requested that Dowd list the property alongside Sawyer Smith, the exclusive broker for the building.

In April of 2011, the property was agreed upon as a resale, and Sawyer Smith Residential Brokerage specializes in handling relocations and re-sales for that building. Smith said there was no movement on the property for a little while, which was when he stepped in and showed it.

“I’m not going to get into the ‘he said, she said,’ ” said Dowd. “But there was an agreement set up with him.”

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“We thought it was a nice idea to turn a negative into a positive.” – Kevin Dowd

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The commission agreement later proved to be ambiguous. Dowd felt it was a tiered commission structure based on the selling price of the property. Smith said that he first requested a 25 percent referral fee. Smith also said he had several offers along the way but faced various snafus during the process.

Unfortunately, the commission agreement between Smith and Dowd was only a verbal one, which made the legality of the issue all the more complex.

“I’m a big believer in the gentleman’s handshake,” said Smith.

After the October 2011 closing on the property, a gentleman’s handshake would not decide the fate of about $4,800.

How a hurricane helps

After close to a year of legal volleyball, Sawyer Smith still felt entitled to a portion of the commission on the property. Dowd felt that it was understood if the property did not sell for a certain amount; Smith was no longer entitled to a commission. Smith felt that was not what was agreed upon.

The issue went to arbitration, and the money could not be released until both sides agreed. It all came to a head right around the time Hurricane Sandy intervened.

Through their respective attorneys, Dowd and Smith decided to donate the commission, still in escrow, to charities in their respective towns.

“In light of everything, we thought it was a nice idea to turn a negative into a positive,” said Dowd.

“In the grand scheme of things, it was stupid to squabble over this money,” said Smith.

Dowd will donate his half of the money to the YMCA in Hoboken. Smith is opting to donate to the Red Cross.

Amanda Palasciano may be reached at amandap@hudsonreporter.com.

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