The Real Deal New York

Bellmarc screwed us out of commissions, and we’re suing: ex-agents

Neil Binder’s firm downsized to a single location last month, after two years of turmoil

February 17, 2016 02:00PM
By E.B. Solomont

Neil Binder

Neil Binder

Neil Binder and Bellmarc Realty — having weathered two tumultuous years of financial distress, including an eviction and a shrinking roster of agents — are now facing two lawsuits from former brokers who claim they are owed thousands in unpaid commissions.

In a suit filed Feb. 14, former agent Doreen Mangan said she is owed $30,853 related to three sales and one rental between January 2014 and September 2015. She’s now an agent with Weichert Realtors in Washington Heights and Hudson Heights.

Agent Julia Congdon, who worked for Bellmarc between September 2014 and May 2015, filed suit on Feb. 4, saying she’s owed $9,375 related to a single sale. Congdon is now an agent at Bond New York.

Binder did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a letter sent to Binder in December 2015, an attorney for Mangan wrote: “There is no question that the commission are owed, and there is no question that they have not been paid.”

The brokerage chief has weathered a firestorm in recent years after his former business partners, Anthony DeGrotta and Larry Friedman, sued him in 2014 alleging he embezzled from the firm. They later settled the suit and DeGrotta and Friedman, who are now at Keller Williams NYC, relinquished their stakes in Bellmarc.

TD Bank temporarily froze Bellmarc’s bank accounts last year as a result of a $33,000 withdrawal Binder made from E*Trade. The bank subsequently removed the freeze, and in an email to his employees, Binder wrote, “The bank has accepted its error and has now released all accounts of the company.”

Bellmarc shuttered four offices last month, downsizing into a single office at 939 Broadway in the Flatiron district, as TRD reported. At the time, Binder said he created a new search engine that would help to eliminate the need for multiple office locations.

Bellmarc now has just north of 200 agents, down from a high of 600 in 2013, when the firm signed a franchise agreement with Coldwell Banker. In 2015, Coldwell Banker terminated the relationship with Bellmarc, citing unpaid fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.