By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Buyers and sellers aren’t the only victims of real estate scams and crimes. Realtors are also a favorite target of crooks, criminals, and other shady types.

Due to the nature of the real estate business, agents naturally come in contact and work with strangers on a regular basis. Most real estate deals involve big ticket transactions and that adds to the risk of dealing with unfamiliar people.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve highlights a few scams aimed at buyers and sellers. Realtors often get caught in the web of these deceptions as well. They just add to crimes that focus on these professionals.

After quizzing a few Realtors, here are just some of the scams going around lately:


Odasi app

Special offer for readers: Try Odasi for 30 days at no cost.

A new real estate app called Odasi (pronounced Od-Uh-See), an acronym for On Demand Agent Services Inc., helps agents delegate small tasks, essentially helping them be in two places at once. The newly launched app takes the power of the shared service economy to create the Uber for real estate agents. It is a business-to-business app for real estate agents.

Dallas real estate broker Andrea Trimble is CEO of Odasi. Trimble says, “We believe we have changed the landscape for completing tasks for Realtors. Our app brings a team-effort feel for real estate agents. Odasi allows agents to delegate tasks that are not money-making activities while best serving their clients. I personally use Odasi and think of the app as my virtual team.”

For a limited time, try Odasi FREE for 30 days. After that, agents pay $9.99 monthly to use the service.

Tasks, which in the app are called “Journeys,” include anything from placing Open House signs to finding an agent available that can open a door for a buyer who wants to take measurements of their property in escrow. When you post a requested Journey in the app, you can view the profiles of the multiple agents bidding on your post. You select the “bidder” (agent), of your choice to handle it for you. The bidder will get a notification once chosen. They will complete the Journey on the specified date and time requested, and will earn the agreed upon rate. Rates are set by users, but typically start at $20 for a small task. (more…)

Dubbed the “White House of Dallas,” 10777 Strait Lane is an iconic estate in Preston Hollow. Diane and Becky Gruber of Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate just sold the 3.3-acre property that was listed for $10.9 million.

Update 5/15: We’ve Been Silenced!

Update 7pm: Selling price was $_____ or $______ per square foot! 

Huge news for the Dallas luxury real estate market! The “White House of Dallas” has long been one of our luxury listings to watch. Listed by Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate’s Diane and Becky Gruber, this 16,041-square foot estate on 3.3 acres now has a new owner. The Grubers listed 10777 Strait Lane for $10.9 million

Diane and Becky Gruber

“We put the house on the market last summer and had quite a bit of interest,” says Becky Gruber. “The buyer saw it online and flew into town to see it in February. It went under contract shortly thereafter.”

The home has quite the lineage, as we’ve spilled before. Here’s what Candy had to say about the home back in 2014:


Lakewood self defense
That’s why we are sponsoring a self-defense seminar with Dr. Nick Chamberlain in Lakewood on Saturday from 12 high noon to 2 p.m. The location is 2114 Kidwell Street at Chamberlain’s studios. We want every Real Estate agent in Dallas to learn how to play it safe!

One of the most frightening blogs I have posted was the story of Ebby agent Linda Zevallos dating Robert Durst, he the New York Real Estate scion who may finally be charged with at least three murders. You may recall that Durst lived in Dallas for at least a year at The Centrum in Oak Lawn. Other agents showed him properties.

Durst was “the oldest son and heir apparent to a real estate magnate father, and grew up in privilege outside New York City, according to the New York Times. He was passed over for the presidency of the Durst Organization in 1994 in favor of his younger brother Douglas, but he remained a wealthy real estate mogul.”

Douglas Durst, estranged for years from Robert, described his brother to the New York Times as brilliant, disturbed and dangerous. He said his brother had come to his house with guns and wanted to kill him. He also said Robert was removed from the line of succession after urinating in a wastebasket.

Durst  was arrested in New Orleans last March 2015 and extradited to Los Angeles, where he is supposed to stand trial this summer for the murder of his friend Susan Berman.

The HBO documentary The Jinx, first put Durst in a bright spotlight.

The series re-examined the execution-style killing of Berman. In the final scene, in an interview with Durst, he mumbles, “What did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

This was the man who sent Linda Zevallos $500 worth of orchids after a first date. This is why Dallas Realtors need Dr. Nick Chamberlain. (more…)

The most honest and ethical professions

The most honest and ethical professions

Gallup released its semi-annual poll results where people were asked to rate, “the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields.” If you’re looking for real estate agents, save time and start at the bottom. In this poll just 20-percent of respondents rated real estate agents either “high” or “very high” in ethics and honesty.

Agents beat out car salespeople, telemarketers, and members of Congress, but lost out by one point to lawyers, by five points to building contractors, and were buried (pun intended) by a whopping 24 percentage points by funeral directors. The top three were in the medical professions.

Viewed as a ratio, real estate agents are viewed as having triple the honesty and ethics of lobbyists (often former members of Congress) yet less than a quarter of a nurse. It’s also worth noting that little has changed since this poll was first conducted in 1977.


Rupert Murdoch

I have been preaching this since I started blogging about Real Estate: Real Estate and the web are a perfect marriage, a match made in heaven. Print advertising is great for branding and luxurious story-telling, but it cannot help you market homes effectively. It’s too old, too slow, too expensive. Online is where EVERYONE looks for real estate — to quote Tony Ruggeri of Republic Property Group when I asked if most of their clients came from the web:

“Show me a client that does NOT come from the web,” he challenged me.

I’ve spent a little time in Midland recently, and even people in West Texas are all over the internet looking for land.

The Zillow-Trulia merger shocked the real estate world, as agents wondered what was next. Would Zulia, with it’s huge audience, try to take over listings or become it’s own MLS? Was this the end of the agent as we know it? (more…)

News_Shelby_December-2013_Ceron-Todd-wedding_Ken-Downing_Sam-Saladino_131326Who in the world would Dallas premier party planner Todd Fiscus trust to plan his own wedding? Try New York event designer Marcy Blum who produced a fabulous, fantastic, and totally over-the-top event for Fiscus as he wed Houston society hair stylist Ceron at The Glasshouses in the Chelsea Arts Tower over New Years. A Lone Star contingent of 100 descended upon Manhattan, getting in and out before the big blizzard and sub-zero temps hit.

CultureMaps’ Shelby Hodge has the whole story, but we want to make note of two prominent Dallas agents at this the best shindig of the year: our beloved Sam Saladino of David Griffin was there with his partner, Ken Downing, as was Faisal Halum from Allie Beth Allman. Read Shelby’s fun report to see who all the Dallas bridesmaid were… this sounds like one of the best weddings ever. Also in attendance: Kenneth Maxwell and his partner, Jim Williamson, aka The Style Bastard, of the fabulous ID Collection.

realestate-trust Pie Graph

A survey conducted by Choice Home Warranty last month found that more than 67 percent of the 1,147 adults who completed the questionnaire don’t trust real estate agents. The generations most likely to distrust real estate agents are Generation X, Y, and Millennials, while Baby Boomers and retirees are more likely to trust an agent — but not much more.

Another interesting trend is that rural homebuyers are less trusting of real estate agents than urban ones, and both men and women expressed equal levels of distrust when it comes to agents.

trust-age Bar Graph

Now, I’m not really sure why Choice Home Warranty conducted this poll, as I am sure most home warranty referrals come from real estate agents, and dissing agents won’t exactly get you a bunch of referrals. But the results are unexpected, to say the least.

And it’s too bad the survey wasn’t more specific about why the respondents distrust real estate agents, said Kevin Caskey, Director at Dallas City Center Realtors.

“It is sad that the general public does not trust their Realtor.  The results in that survey are not surprising but I feel it is reflective of the large number of “used car salesman” type agents, which are not typically your top producers in the industry,” Caskey said. “I wish the survey could be limited to agents that produce in excess of a certain dollar amount and I know the results would be much more favorable. Trust is earned and I do not feel many agents have the training or tools to gain the trust of their clients.”

What do you think of the results? And why do you think people might not trust real estate agents?