Re­al­tor’s ‘bonus’ on house sale in dis­pute

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - SAM COOPER scooper@post­

A West Van­cou­ver re­al­tor de­ceived his client by telling him he wouldn’t be pre­sented a full-price of­fer for his home un­less a $100,000 bonus was paid to another re­al­tor, a Real Es­tate Coun­cil of B.C. lawyer al­leged be­fore a dis­ci­plinary panel on Fri­day.

But Shahin Behroyan, who faces seven al­le­ga­tions, has de­nied any pro­fes­sional mis­con­duct.

On Fri­day, coun­cil lawyer Jean Whit­tow told the panel the two “sig­nif­i­cant” al­le­ga­tions, of de­cep­tion and con­flict of in­ter­est, con­cern the $75,000 bonus that Behroyan’s client Hamid Gamini even­tu­ally paid to Behroyan on top of Behroyan’s $72,000 com­mis­sion for the $2.7-mil­lion sale of a Kings Av­enue prop­erty.

In the 2014 sale, West Van­cou­ver re­al­tor Teresa De Cotiis rep­re­sented John and Alexis Clague, the buy­ers of Gamini’s home.

Whit­tow said the panel must weigh the cred­i­bil­ity of Behroyan and Gamini in or­der to judge the “mighty dis­pute” be­tween their tes­ti­monies about bonus cir­cum­stances.

Whit­tow sum­ma­rized the dif­fer­ences.

Ac­cord­ing to Gamini, Behroyan told him on Nov. 7, 2014 that in or­der for a full-price of­fer to be pre­sented for Gamini’s home — which had been on the mar­ket for six months — the Clagues’ agent had in­sisted on a $100,000 bonus.

Ac­cord­ing to Gamini, Behroyan jus­ti­fied the bonus by say­ing, “this is how prop­er­ties with a dis­ad­van­tage are sold.”

The panel’s chair, Barry Long, asked Whit­tow to clar­ify whether Gamini’s tes­ti­mony sug­gested a dif­fer­ent al­le­ga­tion. “Is it in ef­fect a kind of black­mail, in other words, ‘You can’t see the of­fer un­less you pay the bonus?’” Long asked.

Whit­tow said the coun­cil would not de­scribe Gamini’s al­le­ga­tions against Behroyan in those words.

But ac­cord­ing to Behroyan, it was Gamini who of­fered him a per­for­mance bonus, and af­ter some dis­cus­sion they agreed to lower the bonus fig­ure sug­gested by Behroyan to $75,000 from $100,000, and Behroyan never im­plied the bonus was to be paid to another agent.

How­ever, Whit­tow said that Behroyan’s ver­sion of events wasn’t sup­ported by doc­u­ments, and Gamini’s ver­sion of events was sup­ported by a text mes­sage Gamini sent to Behroyan on Nov. 7: “Shahin 100k is a lot, try to bring it as low as you can I have to con­vince my fam­ily too.”

Whit­tow also pointed to Behroyan’s sign­ing of an agree­ment to work as re­al­tor with the Clagues on another prop­erty deal, sev­eral weeks be­fore the Kings Av­enue trans­ac­tion. Gamini tes­ti­fied that Behroyan had never dis­closed this re­la­tion­ship.

“The ques­tion is, if you are so con­nected to the party on the other side, how do I know that you are act­ing well in my in­ter­est?” Whit­tow told the panel.

But Behroyan tes­ti­fied that he had dis­closed his re­la­tion­ship with the Clagues to Gamini.

Behroyan’s lawyer, John Shields, said that with such stark dif­fer­ences be­tween the tes­ti­monies of Gamini and Behroyan, the panel must rely on a “key doc­u­ment” signed by Gamini.

The doc­u­ment, called a seller’s fee agree­ment, recorded the bonus pay­ment agree­ment reached be­tween Behroyan and Gamini, Shields said. He said Gamini had signed and ini­tialled the brief doc­u­ment.

“Where you have a dis­agree­ment with Hamid and my client (on the cir­cum­stances of the bonus), this doc­u­ment is the best ev­i­dence,” Shields said. “An ex­pe­ri­enced busi­ness­man ... hav­ing sold real es­tate be­fore ... clearly read it, and un­der­stood it, and signed it.”

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