Long gone are the days of a handwritten thank-you note or a basket of fruit. In today’s tight housing market, buyers and sellers are giving much flashier presents to their brokers for a job well-done — jewelry, European vacations, even pets.
Parisse, a Maltese, came to Javier Lattanzio at Christmastime, a gift from a couple who wanted to show their appreciation for his hard work in selling their Fifth Avenue apartment a year earlier.
“It’s not a monetary thing — it’s from their hearts,” said Lattanzio, director of sales at Time Equities, who also has received a vacation to Paris from clients. “This comes from a relationship that starts in real estate and people become friends.”
Among the goodies that NestSeekers International’s Ryan Serhant, who stars in Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” has received: a $30,000 Breitling wristwatch and VIP tickets to an NFL playoff game last year.
Lattanzio stressed that his gifts have always arrived after a sale closed and that he discussed each one with his manager.
His forthrightness is the right approach for Time Equities Chairman and CEO Francis Greenberger, who isn’t troubled by end-of-transaction tokens — only those gifts that might be construed as a quid pro quo: “If I do this, will you buy me a puppy?” he cited as an example.
For Steven Kirkpatrick, an attorney for Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, gifts are perfectly ethical but should always be disclosed by brokers. “It’s really like a bonus,” he said. “You did a great job — here’s a bonus commission.”