Several months ago, I wrote about Michael Hellickson and his radio ad featuring the populist superstar of Fox News, Glenn Beck. The ad, which you can hear on the Hellickson website, enumerates the many ways Michael Hellickson was not like other agents. I had written about all of the fines leveled by the NWMLS, fines totaling over $30,000.00, month after month, and the point of my story was that Yes, indeed, he was NOT like other agents, as most agents go through their entire career without being fined.
Several days after posting, I was contacted by a representative from the NWMLS asking me to remove the specific information about the Hellickson’s fines. I was asked to remove this information as this was “private” information and the fines were “internal”. The odd thing is, many of the fines were for amounts such as “$5000, $2500 stayed if no further infractions occurred”, yet month after month, I saw more infractions and more stays. I thought at the time that he and his brokerage were somehow getting a free pass.
After the phone call from a NWMLS representative, I didn’t want to lose my membership, so I complied and took off the actual listings of infractions and the actual amounts of the fines leveled towards Hellickson, while keeping the rest of the post intact.
Fast forward 6 months later, and news breaks of his rule-breaking and shenanigans and after a 17-month investigation by the Washington Department of Licensing, he’s lost his license.
I first found out he lost his license when I received an irate phone call from a guy who identified himself as an ex-employee of Hellickson. He said he’d just lost his job, he’d read the complaints, they were all bogus, and Hellickson’s name would be cleared and he just wanted me to know that “Hellickson Company is a family company”. I expressed my disgust with Hellickson’s business practices and his deceptive Glenn Beck radio ad and he said that Beck did the ad for Hellickson because they’re both Mormon. The guy raved for about 15 minutes and seemed to be in complete denial about his ex-boss’s alleged criminal conduct. But one point he did make, which I think is important, is that the Hellickson firm worked primarily with sellers in distress. Many of these people were desperate and in real trouble and were losing their home. They were looking for a scapegoat and blaming their real estate broker might have been very easy for them to do. So not to defend this company at all, I’m just thinking that there’s a grain of truth in there somewhere, that some of Hellickson’s actions could have been misconstrued by angry and desperate underwater homesellers.
But that aside, his website and radio ads were very deceptive and dishonest. He claimed to be the #1 agent in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii, which I knew was not true. Turns out he wasn’t even licensed in Oregon or Hawaii. And he’s certainly not the #1 agent in Washington State.
If you listened to the radio ad, he also has Glenn Beck claim on his behalf that he spent more than $500,000.00 in advertising and marketing (“More than 99% of what other real estate agents earn!”) and that his website attracted over 600 buyers per week.
Baloney, of course, all of it. Lies and more lies, from the mouth of Glenn Beck.
It’s interesting to note that one of the charges against Hellickson is that he intentionally underpriced homes, listed them and lowered the prices of homes for significantly less than what a bank would accept in a short sale situation. Why did he do this? I am guessing he did this in order to advertise these screaming deals and attract buyers to call his brokerage. 600 calls a week as he claims in his radio ad? Hardly. But if he got 60, that’s still a lot.
At the high point, he had as many as 400 listings at a time, way too many listings to service personally and ultimately as we know, real estate sales is a personal service business. Buyers and sellers fell through the cracks, phone calls went unanswered, offers went unpresented and sellers went unrepresented. Lives were ultimately ruined on both sides.
Though Glenn Beck lost about 80 advertisers since he called President Obama a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred of white people” he still has a few advertisers left. Do I smell a boycott?