BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — First, the letters came. Then the phone calls. Finally, strangers knocked on the door up to three times a week, asking Jeffrey Adams if he’d like to sell his home.
The offers came so frequently over nearly the past decade that Adams and his wife decided to place a sign outside their four-story Bedford Avenue home looking to deter unsolicited offers.
“HOME NOT FOR SALE,” the placard reads. “DON’T ASK! BEWARE OF SASSY MOUTH OWNER.”
“It was too much. It was just getting out of hand. It was one week where we would sit outside and people would just roll up every five seconds, ‘You selling your house?’” Adams, 45, recalled.
“I put the sign up and I don’t really get anything anymore. It just stopped.”
Adams has lived at the Bedford-Stuyvesant property for more than 40 years, he said, with the home passed down through his family since the late 1950s.
Starting around 2007, he’d receive up to 60 pieces of weekly mail from real estate groups asking about the house, he said, with the numbers progressing as the years went on.
“You know you didn’t give your phone number to anybody, but they’d call the house, maybe six to seven phone calls a day,” he said.
Others came to the home, with one person offering $2 million for the property, Adams said.
But the Bed-Stuy resident wasn’t selling and has repeatedly declined offers, half-jokingly saying that if they wanted him to leave, they could offer him $5 million.
“I mean this neighborhood was not the place to be, with the crime and the drugs and everything, you could’ve got property in this area for next to nothing,” Adams said.
“But now, this is the same property, nobody’s really done anything to their houses, but everything is a million dollars, just like that.”
Unsolicited proposals to buy homes around the neighborhood are all too common, residents said.
Lynette Lewis-Rogers, president of civic group Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said the organization has heard of numerous complaints from community members.
Sometimes they’re calls from individuals who identify themselves as realtors, others as developers, and some who say they’re from out of state, she said.
“It’s annoying and it’s constant,” Lewis-Rogers added. “If you’re not getting a letter, you’re getting a post card or you’re getting a phone call.”
“We’ve had homeowners that have told us that people will drive down their block and if someone is outside, they’ll approach them asking whether they’re selling, or if anyone on their block is selling.”
In the past two to three years, she’s received mail asking about her own home, she said.
Browstoners’ advises people to have discussions with relatives who may not realize this is happening to their family’s property, and to look out for neighbors and family members.
Free resources and workshops from local organizations also offer tips and services, Lewis-Rogers said.
For Adams, taking the matter into his own hands with the sign has helped stem the flow of unwanted calls and visits — all of which he said have been cordial and friendly.
“I don’t feel like it’s a form of harassment. Nobody has been disrespectful,” he said. “But I mean, I probably couldn’t go into their neighborhood and do that, it would be a problem. That’s the dilemma."
Still, the many families he said he knew from the block since the 1970s have long gone, with about seven remaining, “in the span of maybe 14 years,” Adams added.
“Change is inevitable. For me, I think it’s a good thing for the neighborhood that it’s changing,” he said. “I like it here. I love it here, and I plan on staying here.
“I’ve never even been thinking about selling the house, it didn’t even occur to me to sell it. Because where am I going to go? I can’t afford anything else in the neighborhood.”