The Department of State has revoked the real estate broker’s license of James Graham of Genesis Realty, with the input of Buffalo’s Anti-flipping Task Force.
In looking at Graham’s history, there are many tales of woe based on bad deals that the realtor pushed on unsuspecting buyers through his Rochester based company, Genesis Real Estate Investments LLC, some stretching as far as Australia.
This Rochester Business Journal article from 2006 outlines Graham’s career in glowing terms, including his part in co-founding Cornerstone Realty LLC with fellow realtor Daniel Glushefski before moving on to found Genesis. A look at the websites of each realty company will show a heavy emphasis on Christian principles.
According to Kathleen Lynch of the Western New York Law Center, Graham first entered her radar in 2005 through a smattering of complaints. Lynch says that part of what her office does is to pass information on about unscrupulous dealings, but it wasn’t until Senator William Stachowski set up a direct line from WNY Law to the Department of State two years ago that things really started to move in respect to Graham’s offenses.
Lynch says that even though people placed complaints, some were reluctant to pursue legal action. “We need the complainant to be willing to go to court,” she explains. “In this economy, a lot of these people were probably suffering other losses as well, and we had to wait until they were finally ready. The direct referral line that Senator Stachowski set up made it easy to go after these cases.”
Some of Graham’s violations were committed through other companies or in partnership with other individuals, but Lynch would guess that Graham is involved in shady dealings in excess of 100 area properties, scattered throughout the City of Buffalo and beyond. He has admitted to selling homes without full disclosure of his own recent low cost purchase (flipping), and misrepresenting the condition and/or rentability of these homes to buyers in the foreign market.
According to the Department of State file, Graham admitted to mismanagement of the properties he had contracted to oversee for his clients including collection of rents, payment of bills and taxes, and seeing that repairs were made. He misdirected escrow funds into a fund for his own expenses, and failed to let owners know when homes were vacant.
Now that Graham’s license has been revoked, Lynch hopes this will act as a deterrent to any other person or entity who would engage in house flipping. She sees one other possibility coming down the pike too. “This was just one action,” she says. There will possibly be others pursued by his victims. There are people out there who will want to try to recoup some of their money.”