Tuesday, July 04, 2023

A Rotten Appointment


Once upon a time, not so long ago, Watauga real estate maven Bill Aceto was a notorious member (and then the chair) of the Watauga County Board of Elections. He did everything he could to make it hard for ASU students to vote, though he eventually couldn't overcome an order from a Wake County Superior Court judge.

The news of his controversial appointment to the NC Real Estate Commission broke four days ago. I'm just catching up. The following from WRAL:

The North Carolina Senate wants to appoint a real estate broker to a commission that is currently investigating him.

If approved, the broker, Bill Aceto, would be a member of the North Carolina Real Estate Commission when the commission hears complaints against him and his company, Blue Ridge Realty & Investments.

Aceto’s lawyer said his client would recuse himself if the matter comes before the commission.

A buyer’s complaint against Aceto alleges that around February 2022, one of Aceto’s brokers misrepresented the condition of a home for sale in Banner Elk.

The complaint states that after inspection reports from three prospective buyers were compared, it appeared that problems were identified and then covered up.

According to the complaint:

A rotten band sill was noted in the crawl space in old inspections, but the new inspector never saw it because insulation had been added, concealing the badly rotted band sill from the view of the inspector.

Old inspections also noted extensive wood rot on siding, window frames, trim, soffits and fascia. The new inspector and a contractor found several places where rotted wood had been painted over and some rot appeared to be concealed with wood filler.

The buyer also claims there were several other material facts that were misrepresented by Aceto’s broker.

Two general contractors estimated the home needed $24,750 worth of repairs.

In the complaint, the buyer, Heather Cobb of Mathews, submitted an email from the seller that said they didn’t provide past inspection reports because the prior inspector was "completely incompetent."

Cobb’s complaint alleges that Aceto then tried to make a deal. Aceto’s firm offered to return $15,000 in due diligence money — but only if Cobb agreed to not sue the seller, Aceto’s broker or the listing firm. Cobb would also have had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and promise not to file a complaint with the N.C. Real Estate Commission.

Cobb said she wasn’t presented a written agreement outlining those conditions, so she terminated her purchase agreement and filed a complaint with the commission. She also sued the seller.

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Aceto told his office about the complaint during the appointment process, though Berger said he wasn’t familiar with the details.

“My understanding is that the complaint was against someone that works in the firm and he was included because he’s the broker of the firm and not the person that was specifically complained about,” Berger said. “So, with that information, it was my judgment that we move forward.”

On Thursday, the North Carolina Senate advanced SB 754, which would appoint Aceto to the commission for three years.

Aceto’s lawyer, Stacy ‘Four’ Eggers, sent WRAL a statement suggesting that there has been opposition to the appointment.

"It is very unfortunate that someone would try to deny an appointment on an unadjudicated claim relating to an agent that works for Mr. Aceto’s company,” Eggers said. “Mr. Aceto is committed to his profession and to public service which caused him to accept the nomination for this position. When asked to serve by the Pro Tem’s office, Mr. Aceto disclosed the pending matter. If Mr. Aceto’s appointment occurs before the hearing with the Real Estate Commission, Mr. Aceto would recuse himself from any matter dealing with himself or any agent that works for his company."

Janet Thoren, legal counsel for the N.C. Real Estate Commission, said Aceto’s appointment "presents a problem for the Real Estate Commission."

Aceto’s appointment still has to pass the North Carolina House. If finalized, his term on the commission would begin Aug. 1. The hearing against him is tentatively set for August 2023.

It would be the first time the commission has ever held a hearing against a sitting commissioner, Thoren said.


Wolf's Head said...


Happy Independence Day!

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Revolutionary stuff, to throw off an existing government, but how many Americans are thinking just that today?

Anonymous said...

Wolf, you poor puppy!

Anonymous said...

That he is. What a miserable existence it must be to sit here and constantly troll a local blog. It would be one thing if he added something to the discourse, but he never does. Get a freaking life dude.