Ramirez condo sale plays out with drama
Manny Ramirez is expected to finally sell his high-end Ritz-Carlton condominium today after years of marketing and a $3 million price drop, but in keeping with the former
Boston real estate agent Michael Doherty, who says he notified the buyers about the availability of the four-bedroom luxury condo, is suing the listing broker and buyers, saying they fleeced him out of a $110,000 commission on the expected $5.55 million sale.
A Suffolk Superior Court judge this week denied a request by the agent to force Ramirez to hold on to the commission until the lawsuit is decided. But the judge also said the complaint has a “substantial likelihood’’ of succeeding.
The dispute over who deserves a slice of Manny money complicates, but probably won’t stop, the sale of the 37th-floor penthouse palace owned by the enigmatic - and now retired - power hitter whose erratic behavior prompted the Red Sox to trade him in 2008. Ramirez put the property on the market for $8.5 million in 2009, after signing a $45 million deal with the
But with the real estate market in decline, there were no takers for the condo at The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton Towers. He had been trying to sell it off and on since 2005. In an effort to attract a buyer, Ramirez dropped the price repeatedly and switched listing agents over the years before recently reaching an agreement on a cash deal that is less than the $5.8 million he paid in 2001, according to court documents. The 4,421-square-foot home, with a jumbo-size living room and marble floors, overlooks the Public Garden, the Charles River, and the Back Bay. It comes with three valet parking spaces, a doorman, concierge, and valet. At one point, Ramirez redecorated his son’s bedroom to resemble Fenway Park.
Ramirez could not be reached for comment and neither the buyers - Jackson Loomis and Bihua Chen - nor the real estate agent, Carmela Laurella, were willing to comment. But Laurella and Loomis both denied wrongdoing in court documents, saying Doherty did not represent the couple at the time the sale agreement was reached. In an e-mail dated Aug. 21, Loomis told Doherty that he had no basis for a legal claim and the couple had not agreed in writing or verbally to his representation for the Ramirez deal.
“Please stop threatening people with baseless lawsuits,’’ Loomis wrote. “You should understand every party involved will vigorously defend their rights no matter how high the potential legal and time cost might be. It’s a matter of principle, not a matter of financial calculation.’’
Doherty, a partner with City Life Real Estate LLC, also declined to comment. But his attorney, John Brazilian, said he was shocked that the buyers would take advantage of an agent they worked with for years.
“It’s pretty amazing that people of means would take such measures and expose themselves to civil liability to save what amounts to be short money for a property that is selling for $5.55 million,’’ Brazilian said.
Boston lawyer Douglas W. Salvesen, who represents the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts, said such disputes are unusual because most real estate transactions are based on written contracts. He said that without something in writing, it will be difficult for Doherty to make the case that he deserves a big ticket commission.
But in his ruling this week, Superior Court Judge Paul Troy wrote that Doherty “established he had an implied contract,’’ and that the defendants “intentionally structured the transaction such that he would not receive a commission.’’
Doherty said in the suit that he met the couple in 2008 when they leased a property at the Ritz. He showed them Ramirez’s unit in 2008, but they said the $9 million price was too high, according to court documents. In July of this year, Doherty contacted them again to let them know the property was now going for $5.9 million. The listing, he said, offered buyer’s brokers a 2 percent commission on the sale.
Doherty said he told Laurella - the listing agent for the property - that he had clients willing to submit an all-cash offer, but was told there already were several other offers under consideration. Despite this, Doherty asserts in the suit, he advised the couple to make an offer of about $5.5 million.
Weeks later, the suit says, Chen told Doherty that she and her husband were buying the unit directly from Laurella. She said she “felt bad’’ that he was not going to be paid a full commission and offered him $10,000 to make him feel better, according to court papers. Doherty claims he found the offer “insulting’’ and refused.
Laurella said in an affidavit that the buyers contacted her directly and never mentioned they were represented by Doherty.
Despite the legal wrangling, Ramirez and his wife, Juliana, will likely unload the condo today, about six years after they first put it on the market. According to the lawsuit, they now live in Florida after Ramirez abruptly retired from the
The Ritz transaction would be one of a small but growing number of multimillion-dollar units to sell in Boston over the past six months, said John Ranco, a real estate agent with Hammond Residential Real Estate in Boston.
“To see movement in that price range is remarkable,’’ he said.
Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.