Signs of the times: Pol providing Central Bklyn constituents with ‘house not for sale’ placards to fend off buyers

Signs of the times: Pol providing Central Bklyn constituents with ‘house not for sale’ placards to fend off buyers
Not selling: Assemblywoman Diana Richardson is offering property-owning constituents signs letting would-be buyers know they’re not selling their homes.
Photo by Colin Mixson

It’s not a buyer’s market!

A state pol is handing out signs to her Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens constituents that read “This House is Not for Sale,” in response to outlandish solicitations made by would-be home buyers. The wannabe homeowners sometimes stake out private properties with literal bags of cash hoping to convince owners to sell, according to the legislator.

“They come with checks already written in their name, and if not checks written in their name, they come with cash trying to buy their house,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Diana Richardson.

Richardson, who printed an initial run of 1,000 “Not for Sale” signs, said she’s down to the last 100. But she has a second run of the signs in the works for those locals still inundating her office with complaints about unwanted offers to buy their homes, she said.

The requests often come in the form of letters and phone calls from real-estate agents and developers, many of whom typically take the word “no” as an invitation to redouble their efforts, according to a Rutland Road resident.

“They never take no for an answer,” said Vibeke Alstad Jagne, who has lived on the road between Nostrand and Rogers avenues since 2013. “Some push a little, some push more, but if they don’t take no for an answer the first time, I just say goodbye and hang up.”

Less scrupulous realtors will occasionally just show up on property owners’ doorsteps, according to Richardson, who said certain brokers recently went so far as to lie in wait outside some Fenimore Street homes, waiting for their owners to emerge before jumping them with offers.

“Realtors are literally sitting in their cars day in and day out,” the pol said. “If they can’t get you by knocking, or calling, or by mail, they’re waiting until you come out of your house, and approaching you. It’s nuts, it’s really bad.”

Much of Crown Heights’s current real estate is characterized by mixed-use and residential structures between three- and six-stories tall, but current zoning laws allow for up to 13-story buildings in large swathes of the neighborhood. And the potential financial windfall from buying and razing multiple homes to make way for even larger residential towers is too enticing for developers to resist, according to the assemblywoman.

The endless stream of solicitations is mostly an annoyance for Richardson’s constituents, one of whom said no amount of green will convince him not to pass his Midwood Street home on to his next of kin.

“My son will eventually inherit the house,” said Robert Marvin, who lives in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. “I don’t imagine its going to be for sale for many generations.”

But the prospect of coming into quick cash could be enough to convince more vulnerable property owners in the area, including seniors and those carrying debt, to sell their homes at well below market value, according to the pol.

“If I knock on your door with a wad of cash offering to buy you out, and you’re in the midst of a struggle, even if you know it’s below the market value of your house, you may be in over your head and just take the money and sell,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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