Thanks to the banks and their eagerness to grant mortgages to everyone in the past several years, including unqualified applicants, the real estate market in the United States has tanked. Foreclosures are rampant and to further add insult to injury we the taxpayers helped the banks out of their financial mess through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

Now that the banks are solvent again they have gotten very fussy about who they grant mortgages to, creating a glut of homes for sale and fierce competition among real estate firms. While we have no problem with anyone trying to make a buck in a tough market we don’t want to see abuses.

So that you understand that there are limits in place to stop abusive tactics by overzealous real estate agents, there is a NYS Cease and Desist Listing and the following are the rules in place by the NYS Secretary of State.
The prohibition on solicitation shall apply to direct forms of solicitation such as the use of the telephone, the mail, personal contact and other forms of direct solicitation as may be specified by the Secretary of State
You may recall that several years ago Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale were participating in the New York State real estate cease and desist list. The JPCA took steps to stop the harassment and zip codes 11379, 11378 and 11385, became part of the non-solicitation zone. That list only lasts 5 years and has since expired.

However, we’re seeing more and more aggressive solicitations from real estate agents in the form of teaser post cards or other forms of communication telling you that they sold a house on your block. They rarely if ever list the price, which as you know is public information. In and of itself there’s nothing wrong with their attempt to advertise their product but when you have myriad of agents from all areas doing solicitations it creates an unsettling feeling among homeowners.

Also, the real estate agents are using their curbside “Open House” signs with the balloons directing you to houses for sale. That’s illegal to do; I don’t care how tough the real estate market is currently. If you see the agent placing any of these signs near your house tell them it’s illegal. They usually play dumb and surprised but if they’re licensed agents by the Department of State they know it’s illegal.

Understand also that you as the homeowner control any For Sale signs that are placed on your property and real estate commission fees are always negotiable. So be alert to where your power is if you decide to sell your house and use a real estate firm. And, this is very important, if you decide to sign an exclusive contract with a listing agent which you are free to do, and you, the homeowner, eventually find an interested buyer, the real estate agent still gets the agreed upon commission.

The JPCA will take steps to get back on the Cease and Desist list in the future if we hear many complaints from homeowners being harassed by real estate agents.