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Judge rules in favor of real estate agent facing discrimination charges, state drops case against another

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An administrative judge, citing omissions in a state investigation, ruled in favor of a real estate agent charged with discrimination following Newsday’s 2019 series “Long Island Divided”. A separate complaint against another agent involved in the project was dropped by the state agency overseeing the real estate industry.

The lawsuit against Le-Ann Vicquery, formerly with Keller Williams Realty Homes & Estates in Hauppauge and now an associate broker with Voro Real Estate, was dismissed last month, state records show. Administrative Judge John E. Kenny wrote that the New York State Department had “failed to provide evidence” that Vicquery had unlawfully discriminated against a potential buyer.

A US State Department spokeswoman said the agency was preparing to appeal the decision.

The judge wrote that the U.S. State Department investigator did not interview the undercover testers Newsday sent to meet with Vicquery. Newsday sent pairs of testers – a white and a minority – with similar financial qualifications to meet with 93 agents. The state investigator also did not independently review the lists sent to the two testers and “appeared to be struggling” to remember the details of her conversation with Vicquery, the judge wrote. The investigator’s testimony was “not credible,” and without further investigation by the agency, Newsday’s evidence would not be sufficient, he wrote.

Vicquery’s attorney, E. Christopher Murray, said on Wednesday of the state’s case, “I was surprised they didn’t even bother interviewing the testers.”

An agency spokeswoman said in a statement: “The State Department takes pride in the hard work and dedication of our investigation team and stands by their integrity and constant efforts to uncover the facts in these complex cases.”

Separately, the State Department closed its case against Michele Friedman, an associate broker of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Huntington, last month.

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The two lawsuits are among the 26 cases filed by the state against 23 real estate agents and three real estate education teachers identified in the Newsday investigation into Long Island housing discrimination. Most of the cases are still in progress.

A real estate agent’s real estate license, Anne Marie Queally Bechand, was revoked by the State Department in 2020, state records show.

Vicquery said in a statement released by her attorney Murray, “I have not committed any discriminatory behavior and I am glad I had the opportunity to present evidence at a hearing that shows I did not do anything wrong.” She declined to comment, Murray said.

Friedman said in an interview with Newsday that she does not practice discrimination and she said she was “extremely shocked” by the allegations. Now that the case has been closed, Friedman said, “I’m just glad to have the feeling again that I don’t have to worry about it. This is my livelihood and [now I can] just go back to help people and just feel good about what I do. “

In Newsday’s three-year study of housing bias, two undercover testers – one white and one either black, Hispanic or Asian – with similar financial qualifications met with agents and videotaped their conversations. In 40% of the tests, evidence suggested that minority brokers underwent different treatments compared to white testers. Black testers experienced different treatments 49% of the time; Hispanics 39%; and Asians 19%.

In State Department complaints, officials cited Newsday’s videos as evidence that agents were engaged in illegal behavior, such as directing customers to different communities based on race or serving white customers while refusing to meet with equally qualified minority customers to work together.

In Vicquery’s case, the agency wrote that in videos and other evidence posted online by Newsday, Vicquery directed the white and black testers to different areas based on race. The agency wrote that when they met the Black Tester and he said he was looking for houses within 30 minutes of Brentwood, it told him that “the nicest people” live in Brentwood.

However, when she met the white tester about two months later and he made a similar request, Vicquery later texted him warning him of “gang killings” in Brentwood. The state cited these disparate messages as evidence that Vicquery had violated anti-bias laws. It also cited census data showing that Vicquery’s business partners posted the black tester lists in mostly minority areas and the white tester lists in mostly white areas.

In her written response to the state’s complaint, Vicquery said she warned the white tester about gang killings after watching a television news report about gang activity the same day she met him. She also said she warned him because he said he was from Seattle and did not know Long Island. She did not warn the black tester because it had been about two months since she was in contact with him, she said. She also defended the difference between the lists sent to the testers, saying there were legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the differences.

In the State Department’s complaint against Friedman, the agency wrote that it had met with two Newsday testers, one white and one Hispanic. Both said they looked for $ 475,000 worth of homes within 20 minutes of Northport. She sent the Hispanic tester 28 entries, nine in Huntington’s and the others further east, the agency wrote. In contrast, all of the lists she sent the white tester were east of Huntington’s disease.

The agency wrote that it “provided lists that matched the testers’ racial designations, even though the testers had identical search criteria,” which is an indication of bias.

The state dropped the case on Aug. 5 after an investigator concluded that “she did not direct … [to both testers] were for different areas, rich, poor, minority, white, “said Friedman’s lawyer Dennis Valet on Wednesday.

In an interview, Friedman said that half of the HD lists she provided to the Hispanic tester were in the affluent areas of northern HD. “I treated them both exactly the same,” she said. Huntington “is basically a destination … where people want to be,” she said.

Maura McDermott covers residential real estate and other business news on Long Island.

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Real Estate News

Jim Valentine: Niche areas of real estate

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Jim Valentine on real estate

Monday, September 27, 2021

Most people are familiar with residential real estate, but there are many other niche areas of business that are emerging and requiring maintenance. To work in such a niche area requires specialized knowledge, training, and knowledge that a broker must have in order to function properly in that area.
Much like a doctor, auditor or lawyer, all of them can do the general practice tasks, ie – sell a residential property, but when it comes to the specialist areas, one should turn to a specialist.
One area that many realtors try to operate without knowledge of ownership is vacant land. There are many aspects of real estate transactions that must be considered in order to properly serve the customer. They range from floodplain issues, surveying issues, access, zoning, and soils to deed restrictions and government restrictions. To ensure that you can use the land the way you want and improve it within your planned / hoped for budget, the best thing to do is to contact a land specialist.
Many brokers encounter water rights when selling residential properties. It can be incorporated into the property one way or another, but a proper understanding of the potential uses and benefits of owning water is not always understood or explained. Some areas are developed in such a way that the water rights associated with the property cannot be delivered, i.e. surface water rights. If you have a home well, you can use up to 2 acres of water annually, but there are limits to how that water can be used for domestic use only. Can You Drill A Home Well If You Have A Lot In Nevada? In most cases, yes, but not always.
More about water, you have to know the status of water rights. Groundwater rights that have not been used for five years or more expire. Not automatically, but dependent on it. In relying on the water for your intended use, you should better understand the state’s position on the water you are buying. Is the water polluted? It could be encumbered separately from the rest of the property. In Nevada, water is a property and can be used to generate or complete a 1031 exchange. If you are dealing with water, contact a specialist or seek advice from a water law attorney or engineer.
BIA Allotment Properties are properties held in trust by the U.S. government on behalf of their Native American owners. They have mixed federal protection status while being private property. Dealing with allotment property requires very special knowledge that only a few brokers have. Be careful because you are playing in a different legal arena there.
Commercial and industrial ownership is widespread, but actually another area of ​​specialization. There are numerous excellent commercial / industrial agents in Northern Nevada, make use of them. Don’t try to give your nephew a home seller a chance if you don’t have the knowledge to guide him. This niche has its own vocabulary and standards of practice.
Note that a Nevada state business broker license is required to sell any business opportunity. Brokers can sell businesses if they are also selling the property, but if you are buying a business you should be looking at a business broker. The business of a ranch or farm is a different matter. They are complex as they involve understanding the various real estate components, including the ever-vital water rights, as well as plants, livestock, farms, pests, pests, weeds, and more. It’s a fun and challenging real estate niche, but very few are well trained and knowledgeable to properly serve their clients in the field. Get a ranch real estate agent for maximum exposure and protection.
If a broker works outside his specialty, he or she risks being punished with an ethics violation by the brokerage committee and / or sued by a party if it adversely affects them. You can always get the services of a good lawyer who is knowledgeable in the field you are working in i.e. water rights, commercial leasing, Indian law, ranching, etc.
When you’re dealing in esoteric arenas, invest a little time to find the right professional to help you and maybe a little money to find a free professional to help them such as: B. lawyer or auditor. Find out about your rights and consequences at any time.
You don’t have to be trained in every real estate area you are involved in, you just need to find the right broker to look after and protect you.
When it comes to selecting professionals to assist you with your real estate needs … experience is priceless! Jim Valentine, RE / MAX Realty Partner, 775-781-3704. Send an email to dpwtigers@hotmail.com.

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Unflattering audit of San Diego real estate deals prompts push-back from city attorney

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A July report by the San Diego auditor investigating the city’s Ash Street lease and other real estate transactions appears to have driven a wedge between the elected city attorney and the appointed auditor.

A new memo from auditor Andy Hanau states that prosecutor Mara Elliott rejected several invitations to participate in the month-long review of real estate transactions and then criticized Hanau for not interviewing her before his report was published.

“We met at least seven times with representatives of the public prosecutor’s office during the examination,” Hanau wrote in the message last Thursday. “No one in the prosecution stated that we had a reason to question the city attorney, or that the city attorney wanted an interview.”

The auditor’s memo was in response to Elliott’s official rebuttal of the audit published two months ago, which harshly criticized the way city officials have handled a number of real estate transactions in recent years.

In her refutation of the August 31st audit, Elliott reiterated her criticism of the July 22nd audit as an incomplete review. She said the legal conclusions were wrong and the assessment was based on speculation rather than fact.

“I spent nearly two decades of my legal career advising state auditors and audit boards on their roles and responsibilities in the San Diego County and City of San Diego,” Elliott wrote. “This failure to obtain complete information resulted in inaccuracies in the audit report.”

The prosecution issued a similar response to the exam when it was first published.

The city council’s audit committee is due to look into Elliott’s rebuttal along with a subsequent response from Mayor Todd Gloria at its Wednesday meeting on the audit.

Gloria’s rebuttal suggested that the mayor’s office would implement any recommendations made by the auditor under his control, although implementation will take several months or even until 2023.

“The department intends to create a robust and enduring policy that will regulate real estate transactions of many types,” wrote Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone to Hanau on September 7th. “The revised guideline will serve as a guideline and instrument for the city council and city administration to comply with, even if no concrete transactions are envisaged today.”

Hanau’s July 22 report found that former Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his staff withheld information and misrepresented some facts when they approved the council for the 20-year lease for the former Sempra Energy headquarters at 101 Ash in 2016 St.

“The former city administration has limited the supervisory capacity of the city council in large property purchases by not providing complete and accurate information,” the audit said.

The auditors also criticized other real estate investments made under the Faulconer administration, including a failed indoor skydiving facility that the city bought for $ 7 million without a valuation and a repair yard that was $ 8 million more than expected had improved.

Elliott, who is now trying to suspend the Ash Street lease and an earlier contract for the nearby Civic Center Plaza, said the Court of Auditors’ office mistakenly blamed her for the prosecutor’s legal work prior to her 2016 election.

Her rebuttal also criticized the audit for saying it was her office’s failure to spot “red flags” on the Ash Street transaction that cost the city at least $ 60 million for a 19-story skyscraper. that cannot be safely occupied due to asbestos and other topics.

“We have to rely on experts. And those with expertise report to a different branch of government – the executive, ”wrote Elliott. “The lawyers have to rely on facts presented by the city officials.”

The dispute over the auditor’s audit is not the first dispute between the audit office and the city’s public prosecutor’s office.

Last year, then-acting city auditor Kyle Elser applied for permission to hire an independent attorney for his office. Sometimes there are conflicts of interest between city auditors and city attorneys, he said at the time.

Elliott has resisted the request, which relies on both the prosecutor’s office and the mayor’s human resources department to move forward.

The proposal is expected to be reintroduced by the city’s audit office later this year.

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Real estate agent appreciates mentors

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Sep 26 – In Beckley’s real estate sector, Carol Pugh is known for her dedication to clients and her knowledge and expertise.

Pugh is the agent at Sigmund-McLean & Associates on Prince Street. In 2010, she and broker Don Martin entered into a five-year buy-in plan and became co-owners of the agency.

Many in Beckley live in properties that Pugh listed, sold, co-developed, and in some cases re-listed and resold.

“I’ve got so many stories, houses I’ve sold two or three times, families I’ve met along the way,” Pugh said. “There was a lot of property.”

In the late 1970s, Pugh was the mother of two young children. She enrolled in a real estate course at Beckley College taught by local real estate agent Jim Lilly.

“It was just something I did,” she said. “I knew I liked real estate, and it was a course I took without thinking that I would actually get a real estate license.”

But in the summer of 1989 her children – she had three children now – were of school age.

“I just thought, you know, I’d like to get into the real estate business,” she said.

She enrolled in a real estate course taught by Mike Tyree.

She spent the day in class every Saturday and Sunday for the next six weeks. Next she was licensed.

“The first company I thought of that I wanted to work with was a male-dominated company,” she recalls. “Sigmund McLean Hunt and Payne.

“I’ve always respected them. They were family friends. Good, honest business people.”

Pugh said she never treated real estate as a part-time business. She went to the office every day.

The owners were great mentors, she recalls.

“They were in the office every day in a coat and tie, and I would come into the office every day and try to get their knowledge of them.”

The trio developed three sub-divisions in Beckley: Woodcrest, The Landmark and Old Mill Village, she reported.

“I loved hearing about it,” she said.

The story goes on

The agency was still selling lots on Woodcrest when Pugh joined the agency, and Pugh saw an opportunity. She teamed up with a local contractor, Howie Lambert, who was building houses in upscale Woodcrest.

“We worked together,” she said.

“I would sell him a lot. He was going to build a house and Howie would let me sell his house.

“So I learned building development.

“Woodcrest’s development was a real learning experience, watching Bill (Sigmund) and Bob (McLean) develop and even pave the roads and bring the utilities to the properties.

“I had just learned so much in development by watching builders build their homes,” she said.

“Sometimes realtors have the wrong idea what real estate agents are doing and they step in and fail to realize the work that needs to be invested and the time,” she added.

“You have to spend time with experienced real estate agents to learn the business because what you learn in your real estate course doesn’t have much to do with the real world of real estate.”

Pugh said real estate was a full-time job for her from the start.

“I was very fortunate that my family were great supporters,” she said. “My children were still in school, but I was still able to pick them up from school.

“My husband supported me a lot back then. He helped with the children.

“There was a lot of night work and weekends. That’s how I got into it.

“I’ve worked hard and the rewards have been wonderful.”

Pugh is a two-time winner of the Beckley Board of Realtors (BBR) “Realtor of the Year” (1999 and 2005) and was nominated for West Virginia for “Realtor of the Year”.

She has served as secretary to the West Virginia Real Estate Commission and twice as BBR president.

She is consistently a top producer of real estate sales in the Beckley market and is widely respected by sellers, buyers, and other real estate agents.

Her advice to others is to always be honest with customers. She said it was one of the most important things in business.

A supportive family is a help to success, Pugh added.

“There are many ups and downs,” she advised. “There is a lot of heartache.

“I’ve had some deals that I just cried about when they fell apart, buyers regretted, sellers regretted.

“If a deal fails, I live with them.”

Most of the deals were successful, however.

Pugh said she could drive through Beckley, view a property, and remember a deal.

“I do it all the time,” she said. “I wish I could go back and see everything I sold. It went quickly.

One of her mentors did the same.

“Bob McLean used to walk around town calling the homes from the original owners … by the owner’s name even though they had sold it two or three times,” she added.

Pugh’s favorite aspect of business isn’t necessarily making a big profit on an expensive property.

“I’ve sold a lot of commercial properties over my years and I love the challenge,” she said.

“But I have to say, my favorites are my first-time home buyers.

“I feel best about all of the people I’ve helped get into houses.

“They are most grateful to have their home.”

Sigmund-McLean & Associates’ business gives Pugh a sense of achievement.

“I am very proud of my company,” she said. “I am a proud owner here.

“A lot of real estate has been bought and sold in this corner of Beckley.”

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