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FirstTeam Bets $100,000 That It's No. 1 Seller


COSTA MESA — FirstTeam Real Estate said Friday that it will make someone $100,000 richer if they can disprove its advertising pitch: "We sell more homes in Orange County than anybody else!"

The Costa Mesa-based residential real estate firm is offering the money in response to competitors' claims that they are the leading home sellers in the county.

"We think it's unfair for people to achieve No. 1 just by saying it," said Bill Plattos, general manager of FirstTeam, which has nine offices in Orange County. "We're putting ourselves on the line to clear this up."

The company plans to publicize the challenge in newspaper advertisements this month.

According to FirstTeam, 1,900 of its listings sold in Orange County in 1992, and another 400 sold in the first quarter of 1993. The figures reflect actual number of homes sold, and not "double-counts," a practice by which all sales contracts are added to the total regardless of whether a sale was completed.

Last June, FirstTeam sued Tarbell Financial Corp. in Santa Ana, alleging its competitor's No. 1 claims were misleading. The suit is still pending in Orange County Superior Court.

FirstTeam says that its statistics are backed by 11 Orange County boards of realtors, as well as realtors associations' listing services. The offer expires Dec. 31. The challenge includes only independent companies, or a unit of a franchised organization, and ultimately would be judged by the county board of realtors.

Tarbell officials could not be reached Friday for comment. But another competitor said that such claims could be tough to prove because of the muddled figures that are bandied about in the home-selling business.

"Everyone in the county claims they are No. 1 in something," said Carol Rippe, manager of Prudential California Realty's Tustin office. "It's just a game that has been going on. But you have to understand what is in the fine print. Still, it's $100,000, so maybe we'll all take a look at it."

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