What happens when real estate Zoom meetings go awry?

Not every virtual real estate conference goes off without a hitch — here are a few colorful mishaps

New York Issue /
May.May 20, 2020 03:45 PM
(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

Children crashing a virtual deposition with cries of an overflowing toilet. A participant standing up during a business conference, not wearing trousers. Zoom meetings are the new norm for the real estate world, but not every session goes off without a hitch.

Jason Domark, a commercial litigator and partner at Cozen O’Connor’s Miami office, has conducted roughly a dozen Zoom depositions for an ongoing construction arbitration proceeding. The father of three young children works out of a small back room at his Miami Shores home. Domark said he always shuts the door and puts up a guard gate as extra protection, so his kids know they can’t come in.

Courtesy of Jason Domark

Courtesy of Jason Domark, photo by Nat Marie

But one day, as he was halfway through deposing the opposing side’s corporate representative, the door burst open and his two boys rushed into the Zoom meeting.

“The water in the toilet is rising fast, like really fast, like overflowing fast,” cried Domark’s six-year-old son, Maddox, alongside his two-and-a-half-year-old brother, Hudson.

Eight people were on the Zoom call, including attorneys, the corporate representative and a court reporter. “The witness stopped answering, everyone started laughing, and I said to the court reporter, ‘We have to take a break,’” Domark recounted.

He then sprinted out of his back room to assess the damage and fix the toilet, while his wife, Rachel, was putting the baby, Aidyn, to sleep in another part of the home.

After successfully flushing the toilet, he returned to the deposition, tied to a case involving alleged defective design and construction of a Miami apartment building. Domark represents the owner of the building, but declined to provide further details due to privacy matters.

“I asked everyone not to put me on YouTube afterwards,” he said.

Elsewhere, it seems, participants standing up without trousers can be a red flag during video conferences these days. That happened while Matt Partridge, CEO of the London-based real estate research and insights platform Infabode, was on a Zoom call with a U.S. tech firm that was interested in investing in his company.

“One of the company’s very senior representatives stood up to shut the door because his children were shouting from outside his office — only to reveal to the rest of the Zoom call that he was in his underwear,” Partridge told The Real Deal by email, declining to name the company or individual.

“The gentleman in question had been dressed in a normal white work shirt and looked very professional up until that moment,” Partridge added.

No one actually acknowledged what had happened when the executive returned to his seat, although Partridge said there was a momentary pause in the conversation while the participants regained focus.

“The investment deal has since been put on hold,” Partridge lamented. “We can only speculate as to whether that’s due to the impact of Covid-19 — or the wardrobe malfunction.”


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