Sunday, September 21, 2014

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New Dept. Of State Rules Revise Titles For Real Estate Brokers

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New rules from the Department of State have created a sort-of "name game" for real estate brokers. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

Even if they've earned their stripes, many brokers now won't be able to show them. The Department of State is cracking down on a real estate law that says associate brokers and real estate salespeople can no longer have corporate titles.

"The Department of State recently issued an opinion letter, which reiterated that real estate agents should not be using corporate titles such as executive vice president, vice president on the theory that they are misleading," says Neil Garfinkel, who serves as broker counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York.

Garfinkel says the letter clearly explains that those corporate titles can only be used for a representative broker, a broker who is responsible for the oversight of the company.

The letter came after the Department of State was concerned that consumers could be confused as to who they're dealing with.

"The Department of State was concerned that a consumer would be confused by the use of these corporate titles," Garfinkel says. "Corporate titles generally have very specific meanings. So for example, an executive vice president would suggest that someone had a very high level position in the company. Many real estate agents were using these but did not necessarily have that role in the company."

So if you're working with a broker or looking to hire one, no, that person wasn't demoted. Titles are just being revised. Associate brokers and salespeople will have to use titles that correspond to their licenses. There could also be additional creative titles, like "senior real estate adviser," for example. As a result of these new rules, real estate agents must change all their business cards and marketing materials or face fines.

This issue has been generating a lot of buzz throughout the brokerage community, but from a consumer's perspective, this is all just a technical name game. No matter the title, Garfinkel says you should still focus on the quality, integrity and track record of a broker, no matter what title is listed on the business card.

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