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Relentless picketer targets Downtown business

Sierra Brokers owner says his company wasn’t involved in transaction; office not named in civil complaint
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn resident who has spent the past week picketing a downtown real estate office says she was defrauded by one of its agents. However, the owner of Sierra Brokers says the agent no longer works there and the brokerage was not involved in the transaction, and he can prove it. Monique Margaux has been waving two signs each day at the corner of High and East Placer streets. On Tuesday, the signs read, “Agent played dirty con Sierra Broker” and “Rip off agent Sierra Broker.” Margaux said Tuesday her discontent stems from an Ophir Road home she purchased in 2008 from real estate agent Jeanette Harris, who was associated with Sierra Brokers at the time. “She handled it as a ‘for sale by owner’ (transaction),” but signed it as an agent of Sierra Brokers,” Margaux said. Margaux, who also has a real estate sales license that has been active since the 1990s, says some problems with the home and property were not disclosed and that she faces $60,000 to $80,000 — or more — in repairs to bring everything up to code. “They have never given me a Transfer Disclosure Statement,” she said of Harris and her husband, Roy Dean Harris. But Jeanette Harris disputes that contention. Margaux filed three civil complaints against the Harrises in August. The hand-written documents do not name Sierra Brokers. Margaux acknowledges that her civil suit is against the Harrises, not Sierra Brokers. She said that she is picketing to draw attention to her situation and to publicize her story. Owner of Sierra Brokers Wes Burris said Tuesday his company was not involved in the sale, received no commissions from it and the property was never carried in the Sierra Brokers’ listings. “There was never any relationship with Sierra Brokers,” said Therese Brassfield, broker associate with Sierra Brokers. “It was a private sale that never went through this office. The property was never listed for sale. Sierra Brokers didn’t have anything to do with it.” Harris agreed Wednesday that Sierra Brokers was not involved in any way in the transaction. “It was never my intention to have representing agencies on either side,” she said. “There was no listing agreement and no reason to have a disclosure regarding agency because we were both (Harris and Margaux) licensed agents.” Margaux said that she makes the link because Harris was associated with Sierra Brokers at the time of the sale, footers of a document used in the sale lists Harris as an agent with Sierra Brokers and that she signed paperwork in the office of Sierra Brokers. According to Burris, Harris was allowed to use the documents and the conference room for the for-sale-by-owner transaction as a courtesy only. The property in question is located next door to a house Margaux purchased in 2002, also from Harris. “I had been looking at the house (next door) for 12 years and thought wouldn’t it be nice to be a land owner,” Margaux said. According to Margaux, the property includes a two-story, three-bedroom house with one bath and a small cottage with one bedroom and one bath. A Property Detail Report lists a 566-square-foot residence with a 289-square-foot garage built in 1953. The lot size is .85 acres. Margaux contends the 566-square-foot structure is actually the smaller building and that the Harrises added the two-story house during the 1990s. She said the Harrises did not pull the required permits and that electrical, septic and water systems are not up to code. Harris says she has photos taken in the 1950s that show both structures and that Margaux was aware of electrical, septic and water issues. “There was never a well there and she knew that,” Harris said. “She has the same water conditions in the (next door) house. She knows there is a water filtration system. We did not put in a septic system. That was fully discussed with her. I have her initials on the actual pages.” However, Harris does agree that the property is “permit challenged.” Brassfield, who was living in the house when Margaux purchased it in 2008, also disputes the claim it was built in the 1990s. However, Margaux says she has a signed statement from a previous tenant of the cottage that the larger unit did not exist at the time she lived there in the early 1990s. Margaux, who purchased the property for $295,000, acknowledged that she has had her real estate sales license since the 1990s and takes classes to keep it up-to-date, but said she has only sold one house and that she is in the insurance business. She has not yet hired a lawyer to proceed with the civil suit against the Harrises, but said she plans to do so. In the meantime, Sierra Brokers is filing a complaint against Margaux with the California Department of Real Estate, co-owner Michelle Burris said in an e-mail. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay @goldcountrymedia.com.