On April 24, 2008 the unanimous opinion of the New York State Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, was rendered in the case of Oleg Rivkin v. Century 21 Teran Realty, LLC, et al. The underlying case had worked its way through the Federal Court System and resulted in an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Federal Appeals Court requested a determination by New York’s highest court as to what the law is in New York with respect to the obligations of a buyer-agent to inform a buyer-client who is interested in a particular property, that other salespersons affiliated with the same firm, are making offers on behalf of other principals in connection with the very same property.
Just before the Memorial Day weekend in 2004, Oleg Rivkin (“Rivkin”), a resident of New Jersey, contacted Joshua Luborsky (“Luborsky”), an associate broker at Century 21 Teran Realty, LLC (“C-21 Teran”). At the time, C-21 Teran was co-owned by Andrew Peck and Chloe Dresser and had 16 affiliated salespersons and 4 associate brokers. Rivkin was seeking a lakefront property and was forwarded information by Luborsky about a lakeside property in Ellenville, New York which had been listed for $100,000.00 through another Century 21 franchisee. Almost immediately, Rivkin directed Luborsky to communicate a $75,000.00 verbal offer to the listing agent. Luborsky did so and Rivkin arranged to meet at the site approximately 3 days later on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. When he viewed the property, Rivkin determined that the property was “fantastic” but that the building was “fairly worthless”. In response to questioning from Rivkin, Luborsky made Rivkin aware that the property had only been on the market for several weeks, that other offers had been placed with no counteroffers from the seller and that a counteroffer was likely to Rivkin’s $75,000.00 opening bid. Rivkin signed a written binder which Luborsky forwarded to the listing agent and Rivkin wrote a check to C-21 Teran for $1,500.00 as a deposit. He also received the New York State required §443 form, “Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationships”.
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