Respondent(s): Mary L. Story, Principal Broker, Mary Story Group, Mena, Arkansas, Formal Hearing #3613
Violation(s): Arkansas Code Annotated §17-42-311(a)(2), §17-42-311(a)(6), §17-42-311(a)(7), and §17-42-311(a)(11) and Commission Regulations 7.6, 10.8(g)(2), 10.9(a), and 10.9(b).
Sanction(s): Based upon these findings and conclusions, The Real Estate Commission determined and voted unanimously that the license of Mary Story shall be revoked. It has also determined that the respondent be fined in the amount of $1,000 for the allegations in charges of Paragraph C-1; $1,000 for the charges in Paragraph C-2; $1,000 for the charges in Paragraph C-3; and $1,000 for the charges in Paragraph C-4 in the Order and Notice of Hearing, for a total of $4000 due within 30 days of date or receipt of this order.
On or about January 20, 2005, Respondent Story submitted a Trust Account Information form to the AREC indicating the Mary Story Group Escrow Account would be held at First National Bank, Mena, Arkansas, in account number ending 24154.
On or about May 8, 2009, Respondent Story submitted a Real Estate License – Firm Change form to the AREC. The form indicated the address for Mary Story Group changed to 1504 – A Suite #1, Mena, Arkansas, 71953.
On or about January 11, 2017, Complainant Hoang and Kim Anh Tran submitted a 2016 Real Estate Contract (Residential) for the purchase of 80 acres on County Road 72 Redbud, Scott County, Arkansas, in the amount of $3,375,000. The Complainant’s offer to purchase was pursuant to Complainant’s ability to obtain a new loan to be secured by the property at terms acceptable to the buyer. The contract indicated Mary Story Group represented Complainant Hoang and Kim Anh Tran as buyers and Mavrick Trozzi as seller. Earnest money was indicated in the amount of 1% of the purchase price. The contract was accepted by Mavrick Trozzi on January 12, 2017.
On or about January 11, 2017, Complainant Hoang wrote check # 1007 to Mary Story Group in the amount of $33,750.00 for Earnest Money. The check was deposited January 13, 2017, into the escrow account ending in 24154.
On or about January 18, 2017, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas denied the loan application of Complainant Hoang and Buyer Tran.
On or about April 17, 2017, Complainant Hoang sent a text message to Respondent Story, "Can I stop by your office on Thursday to get money?" Respondent Story’s answered, "I am out of town for the next few days will get it in the mail when I get back." On or about April 24, 2017, Complainant Hoang sent a text message to Respondent Story, "Hello Mary I am Steven Hoang. I am waiting your return money." Respondent Story answered May 1, 2017, "I will bring it no later than Friday. Sorry, traveling."
On or about May 16, 2017, Complainant Hoang texted Respondent Story and asked if the check had been sent. Respondent Story answered May 17, 2017, that it would be done that day.
On May 18, 2017, Respondent Story indicated the money had been sent. Respondent Mary Story wrote check #2744 from the Mary Story Group Real Estate General Account in the amount of $33,000, to Steven Hoang or Kim Hoang. The check was dated May 30, 2017. Complainant Hoang received the check along with a letter stating the check was written from the General Account and funds would have to be transferred from the escrow account before the funds would be available.
On or about May 30, 2017, Respondent Story texted Complainant Hoang, "Steven, I am coming back June 2nd. Hold on to the check and I wire the money to you from my escrow account. That check was from my general account and not enough money in it. Thanks, Mary"
On July 17, 2017, Complainant Hoang filed complaint 17-060 with the AREC. A copy of the complaint was mailed to Respondent Story on July 25, 2017. The AREC received an Answer to the Complaint from Respondent Story on August 15, 2017.
On August 17, 2017, an AREC Investigator sent a letter to Respondent Story which requested a copy of the transaction file be submitted to the AREC no later than September 6, 2017. No response was received.
On or about August 23, 2017, Respondent Story purchased cashier’s check number 68309 from Bear State Bank in the amount of $33,750. The cashier’s check was received and deposited by Complainant Hoang.
On or about April 18, 2018, an AREC Investigator sent a letter by certified mail to Respondent Story which requested a copy of the transaction file and financial records be submitted to the AREC by May 2, 2018.
On or about May 7, 2018, the AREC received additional documents from Respondent Story. The documents included the real estate contract, a commission addendum, the deposit record for Complainant Hoang’s earnest money, a withdrawal receipt, a cashier’s check for the return of the earnest money, and a document from the Scott County Title Corporation.
On May 16, 2018, an AREC Investigator emailed Respondent Story to schedule an office visit. In an email dated May 21, 2018, Respondent Story instructed the AREC Investigator to come to her home at 5776 Hwy 8 West, Mena, Arkansas, for the office visit.
On May 25, 2018, two AREC Investigators conducted an office visit at the home of Respondent Story. Upon approaching the residence, a sign for Mary Story Group was visible at the end of the drive-way. Licenses for Respondent Story, Salesperson Lisa England, Salesperson Cyndee Heath, and Salesperson Kristin Nichols were displayed inside the residence. Respondent Story did not provide a listing agreement for the 80 acre property on County Road 72 in Redbud, Arkansas, during the office visit. Respondent Story also did not provide bank statements or reconciliations for the firm’s trust account during the office visit.
On or about August 30, 2018, Respondent Story submitted a Real Estate License – Firm Change form to the AREC. The form indicated the address for Mary Story Group changed to 5776 Hwy 8 West, Mena, Arkansas, 71953.
During the time prior to the return of Complainant Hoang’s earnest money Respondent Story did not maintain a balance of at least equal to the amount of Complainant Hoang’s earnest money.