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Buying Your Type of Neighbors?


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…for Suggesting the Right Kind of People

Buying neighbors is not a good thing, nor is attempting to decide their religion, or any other issues in relation to fair housing. But apparently one Mortgage Broker has allegedly attempted to do just that in an upper income New Jersey neighborhood.

Jack Lefkowitz a New York Mortgage Broker allegedly mailed out the above postcard to a neighborhood warning they BEWARE! “Help Save The Neighborhood from Negative Elements!”

Beware of…

What makes this story an even bigger story is that this home is an Exclusive For Sale by Owner, and the website brags about the lack of commissions on the home, yet offers a $10,000 referral fee to residents of the neighborhood when they recommend a suitable buyer.

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I think in this case, it may be buyers who may want to beware of not only FSBOs, but maybe even mortgage brokers practicing real estate.

More Facts…

click to see listing 1pdf

click to see listing 2pdf

Postcard/Story Credit

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Bob Schenkenberger

    May 30, 2008 at 9:35 am

    I didn’t notice the Fair Housing logo on the postcard, maybe I just missed it?

  2. Daniel Bates

    May 30, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I’d love to see how many minutes it took for a Realtor to lose their license if they tried this. I guess the mortgage industry isn’t as tightly monitored in its advertising, but the Fair Housing folks should fine this guy.

  3. Benn Rosales

    May 30, 2008 at 9:48 am

    This is a clear case of a mortgage broker practicing real estate. Maybe NJ is really relaxed, I’m not sure, but there is absolutely no disclosure on this postcard whatsoever.

  4. Ken Smith

    May 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Wow that is crazy. Forget that it’s a mortgage person practicing real estate, but seriously “Negative Elements”. That blows my mind that in this day and age someone would even think of using that as an advertising method. Not only is it illegal, but it would turn off more people then it would attract IMO.

    Amazing what people will resort to when then aren’t making any money.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    May 30, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Well let’s see: Practicing Real Estate without a license (and doing it poorly) mixing licensed activity with lending (where is that number for RESPA), Text book Fair Housing issue, Stupidity in public, Steering (oops, I guess I already said Fair Housing once), paying commissions/incentives to unlicensed entities….

    Does he have an ActiveRain account, by chance?

    I’m not an attorney, but does one really need to be see how dumb this is?

  6. Jay Thompson

    May 30, 2008 at 10:29 am


  7. Matthew Rathbun

    May 30, 2008 at 10:29 am

    from the other post: Really….

    Mr. Lefkowitz replied to my request for clarification with the following. (I am paraphrasing here) “We didn’t intend to hurt anybody. We are just trying to give the neighbors a chance to bring in their kind of people. The kind of people they want as neighbors.” He went on to say, “We had a Realtor who was holding open houses and advertising this very widely and they weren’t bringing in the kind of people we wanted.” He said, “It was a poor choice of words and we are going to send out a new postcard next week with different words.”

  8. Benn Rosales

    May 30, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Matthew, thanks for posting that- we decided not to post it in the post as (rephrasing) it was not a direct quote.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    May 30, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I wasn’t sure if that was an update to the original or not, but it’s important to say that it’s third hand information from the original post. Has the whole world gone mad!?!?! On of my best friends is the former director of Fair Housing for VA, he’s a private practice attorney now and I’ve sent it to him for feedback…

  10. Ken Smith

    May 30, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Would love to hear the reaction of the attorney. Sure he has seen it all before, but sure he will have some thoughts.

  11. Ann Cummings

    May 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I’m still having trouble getting beyond my reaction of “WOW”….. could someone really REALLY think that’s okay to do??

  12. Doug Quance

    May 30, 2008 at 11:13 am

    To quote Jay (as he is quite quotable)


  13. Matthew Rathbun

    May 30, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Since when does RESPA allow loan officers to advertise and market properties!?!?!! BTW: Contrary to the orginal author’s post, it’s not redlining. Redlining is when a lender charges different rates or fees for particular area. Blockbusting is trying to alter the makeup of a certain area by using (usually fear) tactics and of course Steering is to purposefully take action to discourage a buyer from a particular area due to protected class issues.

    So… the winner will probably be Blockbusting. Nice federal Fair Housing issue….

  14. The Harriman Team

    May 30, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Geez, even Mr. Lefkowitz’s “clarification” is whacked! “…not bringing in the kind of people we wanted”?? What kind is that, pray tell? The ready, willing and able kind with money? And it doesn’t matter what different words they send out on the next postcard, you can’t unring this bell…

  15. Doug Quance

    May 30, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    They’re asking $2.6 million for that dump?

    You could buy the Mansion Madame’s House and still have enough left over to buy the neighbors house, too!

    Y’all need to head south. I’m just saying.

  16. Julie Emery

    May 30, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I have to admit I originally thought this was a joke. Wow! I’m speechless!

  17. Chris Lengquist

    May 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm


  18. Bill Lublin

    May 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    My cousin lives in Englewood. We’re up there a lot. Its a lovely area, but stupidity hides everywhere.

    In reading the post, I don’t think there is a licensing issue, since the owner (one of a partnership) seems to be the seller.

    I do think that the sender should be ashamed.

    In the words of Jay “Un-freaking-believable.”

  19. Benn Rosales

    May 30, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Bill, it shouldn’t need to be a debate, the way everything in the single property site reads, Jack is representing the property owner and offering a referral to non-licensed individuals which implies brokerage- if the line is so thin then why are we bothering to pay licensing fees? If Mr. Lefkowitz is not brokering/representing the owner, then why is his contact information on the postcard.

    These are just my feelings on this, but that’s the point of disclosure, it leaves no room for feelings and that’s where I believe the problem lies- this mortgage professional is selling a house for the owner.

  20. Benn Rosales

    May 30, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    which btw may be perfectly legal in NJ?

  21. Matthew Rathbun

    May 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Bill / Benn: I was under the impression that there were some Federal issues with lenders offering incentives and marketing properties as if there were sales agents. I can’t put my finger on it all, but I am sure that I have my notes from a briefing around here talking about just this sort of thing.

  22. Frank Jewett

    May 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    The whole thing seems like a con designed to get the neighbors to try to convince some sucker their friends to make a full price offer based on the “already discounted” asking price. According to Zillow, the assessment is $1.1M and the neighborhood appears to contain a wide variety of homes, so the FSBO and the mortgage guy may have wanted to distract attention from a valuation of the home.

  23. Frank Jewett

    May 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I have a very rare $5 that is worth $10. I would hate for it to fall into the hands of the wrong type of person, like someone who might burn it to protest against our government, so I’m willing to sell it at a discount of $8 and I will give $1 cash to whoever refers the buyer to me.

    Discriminatory yes, but that element is merely a distraction to draw attention away from the fact that I’m selling a $5 bill for $8.

  24. Jonathan Dalton

    May 30, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Frank – it may be a con, but it’s also one that runs afoul of a number of statutes at the same time.

    There are lots of cons – auctions, short sales, etc. – but most aren’t so blatantly illegal.

  25. Frank Jewett

    May 30, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Jonathan, I understand that and I hope there are consequences for the seller and the “helpful” mortgage broker. I’m simply suggesting that the appeal to bigotry may have been part of a larger con. It sometimes seems like those within the industry are slow to question the listing price. I get flyers promising bonuses to the selling agent for bringing in a full price offer. Seems like someone is getting scammed on those deals, too, but they don’t draw much attention.

  26. Benn Rosales

    May 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Just a reminder that Mr. Lefkowitz has owned up to a poor choice in words and is attempting to correct it through some means- I really doubt anyone would dive into a pit this deep, intentionally- and all of the possible wrongs are simply speculation at this point.

    Based on everything I could read on Mr. Lefkowitz he seems to be a professional who may have made an inexcusable error.

  27. Chris Kieff

    May 30, 2008 at 4:11 pm


    Thanks for picking up my story. I’m happy to provide further information to anyone who would like it. I still have the original postcard, including the front side that I’ve not yet posted- it’s simply more of the same.

    Based upon the discussion here I’ve filed a Federal Fair Housing Discrimination Complaint. Although I’m not sure if that’s the best way to go, it is a multi-state issue with Mr. Lefkowitz in NY and the property in NJ.

    If anyone here has further suggestions on how I should proceed please let me know either here or on my blog at


  28. Brian Brady

    May 31, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I love the phrase “choose your neighbor”; it goes downhill from there.

    I love the phrase “choose your neighbor” because it suggests bringing a friend or relative in. In NJ, (where I grew up), it’s not uncommon to have siblings, parents, and cousins living within a 2 minute walk of each other (mansions or rowhomes).

    The rest is a REALLY poor choice of words. I I can’t believe this guy has a CMPS designation and doesn’t know better.

  29. Bill Lublin

    May 31, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Benn – I see what you mean, and I agree that a mortgage guy shuldn’t do the job of a real estate guy – or even try to skirt the issue-

  30. Brian Brady

    May 31, 2008 at 10:15 am

    “I see what you mean, and I agree that a mortgage guy shuldn’t do the job of a real estate guy – or even try to skirt the ”

    I agree, Bill. Why should the two jobs be different? Conflict of interest?

  31. Thomas Johnson

    June 1, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Truliatitis. Has Mr. FSBO posted his “How do I get the right people to move to my neighborhood?” Question to Trulia Answers yet? Just the kind of Fair Housing question that I see on Trulia.

    Of course!-New Jersey-To earn your ten grand do you bring in the Sopranos or try to keep them away? Is ten grand an offer they can’t refuse? Was Vito Corleone seen looking at the house? Maybe this is just a “family” dispute. Where to we hold the sit down? Don’t let Michael near the rest room.

  32. Ken Smith

    June 2, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Brian said: “I can’t believe this guy has a CMPS designation and doesn’t know better.”

    Brian there are plenty of designation holders that get the designation purely because they want the letters behind their name, not because they want to improve on their business knowledge or skills. This guy is proof of that.

  33. Eric Blackwell

    June 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I am still staggering over this one…this is a textbook case of why you should leave some things to the professionals. Somehow I don’t think I am “his kind of people”…(and happy about that!) …yes he has called it a poor choice of words…methinks it is more like a poor choice of thoughts.

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