State admits to limited policing of us brokers

(Flickr photo by Metropolitan Police)

Real estate brokers in the state number 52,855, nearly half them in New York City.

Number of complaints filed with New York’s Department of State last year: 952.

Those figures were reported by the Real Deal in a piece about how hard will be enforcement of new advertising rules.  (I reported on the changes previously.)

Given what most consumers think of real estate agents and the number of times that I alone have observed violations of state law, those numbers just don’t square with reality.

There’s a simple explanation. Continue reading


Brokerage firms not rushing to eliminate titles

A new opinion letter from the New York Department of State about the misuse of corporate titles by real estate agents has drawn a muted response from the city’s brokerages.


The one-and-half-page letter said the use of titles such as “vice president” was dishonest and misleading, amounting to prohibited false advertising unless the holders of real estate licenses actually were corporate officers.

“We’ll wait and see what unfolds,” Continue reading

Say good-bye to real estate VPs, SVPs and EVPs?

The New York Department of State says in a stunning opinion letter distributed Monday by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) that many of us real estate salespersons and associate real estate brokers, including me, are violating the law.

Associate Attorney Whitney A. Clark states in the letter that those of us who adopt or receive corporate titles such as vice president on upward are in violation of the real property law if we are not actually officers of the corporation — for example, any incorporated brokerage.

In the one-and-a-half-page missive, which amounts to a bombshell, Clark declared: Continue reading


Brokers breaking law could face severe penalties

When I wrote about proposed new advertising rules for real estate brokers, I was unable to find specific penalties.

Now Whitney A. Clark of the Department of State has enlightened me with a response to my search for answers, and the good news is that virtually all violations of New York Real Property Law can produce the same costly punishments. Continue reading


Rarely is real estate sales chosen as a first career

Heaven knows that real estate sales lacks the glamor of, say, school crossing guard, exterminator, barista or subway conductor.

Of course, there exist those brokers and agents whose social credentials rival Britain’s royal family and whose transactions involve properties in the double-digit millions from the outset of careers that have been their first choice.  But the rest of us have tended to select real estate for a second, third or fourth career when the economy or age has left us with few options.

Although many starting out in the industry may feel like second-class members of the community, Continue reading


The High Road: SmartMoney lauds, faults big brokers

Judy Phetteplace doesn’t share listings with other brokers in her upstate New York market.

Congratulations to SmartMoney for its balanced and extremely well-researched piece on what writer Alyssa Abkowitz terms “kingpin brokers,” of which I am hardly one.

In cities as far-ranging as Amsterdam, N.Y., Augusta, Ga. and suburban Cleveland, such brokers can have more than 100 listings and turn down new ones without a second thought.  Says the magazine:

Have a buyer’s agent and want to see a home listed by the market leader? Forget it, Continue reading


Out and About: New law clarifies buyer representation

Note: After this post, Out and About will be published on Mondays or Tuesdays instead of the current Friday schedule.  Next one: Jan. 14.

 A new statutory requirement for real estate agents and associate brokers (licensees I customarily refer to merely as “brokers”) went into effect on Jan. 1, providing critically important additional protection to consumers and causing confusion, as well as consternation,  among the ranks of the untutored.

Enacted last year, the amendment to real property law modifies the agency disclosure form to allow advanced consent to dual agency and now adds a requirement for use of agency disclosure forms in real estate transactions for condominiums and cooperatives.  (You can download a PDF of the form.) The form lets you know who is representing whom, and it applies to both sales and rentals.

Fundamental to the form is an understanding of the difference Continue reading