When Lee Warren found himself in need of someone to manage his rental properties, he turned to a friend — a licensed Realtor who had hung up her shingle to do just that.
“I have known her for years — we were friends,” Warren said.
He now says that Ashley Williams Creamer betrayed that friendship by never turning over the rent she collected for him. Several other property owners we talked to also tell similar stories, and even more hint at alleged “near misses.”
Creamer told CBS-11 they would “have to talk to my attorney,” when they asked her about the claims, but her last attorney of record wouldn’t comment.
But at least one body found Warren and others had legitimate claims — the Texas Real Estate Commission, who revoked her real estate license in May, citing her with 68 violations, and assessed her a fine of $122,000.
Five Brokerages in Four Years
In a hearing on May 6, TREC called 10 witnesses, including Warren. The commission’s final order says Creamer did not present any evidence on her behalf.
The order notes that Creamer had let her license lapse on July 24, 2017, and again from October 27, 2017 through the date of the hearing because she had no broker sponsor. In the past, she had been with Texas Starpath Partners from September 2013 to October 2013, Guildford Management from October 2013 to June 2016, JP Piccinini Real Estate Services from June 2016 to February 2017, Keller Williams Management from February 2017 to July 2017, and Moving Texas Realty from July 25, 2017 until October 26, 2017, for a grand total of five brokerage migrations in about four years.
“The allegations stem against Ms. Williams stem from complaints received by the Commission from property owners who alleged Ms. Williams failed to remit rental payments from renters to their property owners, among other concerns,” the document reads.
In addition to Warren’s claims, the commission investigated claims from Hodaka Makino (who represented four property owners in Japan who had contracted with Creamer), Richard Hartman (who had contracted with Creamer to manage his North Dallas property while he was abroad), Carole Campbell (one McKinney property), Peter Mathews (two Keller properties), Kimberly Hooten (three Austin properties), Susan Biles (an Austin property), Cherie Smith (one Austin property).
All told similar tales of repeatedly asking Creamer where their funds were and never receiving them. In some cases, the sponsoring broker she listed on the agreements signed was not the sponsoring broker she worked for.
TREC ultimately took Creamer’s real estate license and assessed a fine for all 68 issues brought before it.
“You need honesty …”
But it’s cold comfort for Warren, who said he turned to Creamer when he was dissatisfied with his previous property management vendor.
“I used to manage then myself, as I have my own brokerage,” he said, adding that he was happy with his initial choice in vendors, but that when she retired a year later and sold her management portfolio to another company, the quality quickly went downhill.
“They were horrible. I had over $14,000 in accounts receivable that they weren’t even trying to collect,” Warren said. “I was with them for maybe six months when I decided to give Ashley a try, based much on our friendship.”
Creamer posted a video advertisement on Youtube for her company, MSA Asset Manager, in 2015. We also found that she has done business as CMO RPM LLC and Elite Echo Property Management.
“As an owner and investor, you want a simple, stress free and profitable solution for your properties. You need honesty, straight forward advice and market experts to maximize your portfolio,” Creamer wrote on the caption for the video. “We specialize in national property management. This means we consult with you on the fix up, finding strong tenants, creating cash flow and helping with the exit strategy and disposition.”
But almost from the start, Warren said, there were issues with the service she provided.
“We started having communication issues pretty quickly. She only managed my properties for four months,” he said. “I notified her in the fourth month that I was going to change managers due to a multitude of issues that she was not addressing. She wanted at least 30 days notice. I agreed.”
But then Warren discovered something even more troubling.
“Then, a week later, I found out that her license was inactive,” he recounted. “I told her at that time that she could no longer manage my properties legally and that the change to the new management company would be effective immediately.”
All told, Warren says Creamer owes him about $45,000. He has a judgment against her for $50,000.
It would take more than 18 months for Warren and others to get any kind of resolution as the case wound its way through TREC. They still can’t get law enforcement to investigate, Warren said.
“I filed a report with the city of Little Elm after being punted by everyone else,” he said. “Since her last office location was her house, and that house is in the Little Elm PD jurisdiction, that’s where our case needed to be filed.”
“Got a call from them last week stating that they are technically leaving the case open, but the DA likely would not pursue it. They see it as a civil case, not criminal,” he said. “I tried in Dallas, as one of my properties is in Grand Prairie. They said I had to go to the jurisdiction where her office was.”
Realtor Georgette Jones said she and her client also had issues with Creamer’s service.
“She was my transaction coordinator from February 2018 until August 2018 when she stole $3,500 from me and my client by acting in a property management role — she was not hired for that,” Jones said.
She said she knows that she and her client lost a lot less than other clients, but she is still angered by the situation — and the damage it does to reputations.
“It’s not about the money for me but my client and I lost a client as well,” she said. “I did dodge a bullet but I am more pissed that she used our (all the people she stole from) money to buy implants, get rounds of fertility treatment, buy a home in Aubrey and travel.”
“Some people won’t be able to bounce back from this and for the rest of us, it makes us distrust people that aren’t even like this,” she added.
“She lies to your face”
Indeed, Creamer’s company Yelp page is a veritable raft of disgruntled customers from all over the country.
Read Ronald W.‘s review of MSA Property Management on Yelp
Read Pradeep P.‘s review of MSA Property Management on Yelp
Read Nora D.‘s review of MSA Property Management on Yelp
Read Leigh Ann B.‘s review of MSA Property Management on Yelp
Read Jennie T.‘s review of MSA Property Management on Yelp
What Happens Now?
Some of those who say they are owed money by Creamer were able to recover some funds through TREC’s Real Estate Recovery Trust Account. But there is a ceiling to those payments, and once that is met, future clients won’t be able to recover any funds.
“Regardless of the number of applicants, payments from the Real Estate Recovery Trust Account may not exceed $50,000 per transaction, with a maximum of $100,000 per license holder for multiple transactions,” TREC explains on its website. “Payments from the Real Estate Inspection Recovery Fund may not exceed $12,500 per transaction, with a maximum of $30,000 per license holder for multiple transactions.”
Jones said she’s learned the hard way that you have to manage your property manager.
“Always Google the company and the person before signing up, never let more than one month go without balancing the books, if there are any excuses why the monthly rents didn’t get to your account, immediately call corporate or TREC,” she said.
In a Facebook group of real estate investors, Warren explained just how blindsided he was by Creamer.
“If I hadn’t gone through this, it would be hard for me to comprehend as well,” he wrote. “I just want to do everything possible to ensure that she does not victimize others.”
In the coming weeks, we’ll have more from other clients who say Creamer kept their rent payments, as well as a look at the TREC complaint process and what options her former clients have now. Have information critical to these stories? Email Bethany@CandysDirt.com.