New York State’s Department of State issued a letter to the Real Estate Board of New York Friday declaring the seemingly obvious – that brokers cannot use titles they haven’t earned.
The letter states that brokers cannot use titles such as vice president or executive vice president if they aren’t actually appointed or elected to those titles at their companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Agents [are] prohibited from falsely advertising that they hold such a position within the brokerage,” Whitney Clark, an attorney with the DOS, stated in the letter.
Neil Garfinkel of Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, the Real Estate Board’s legal counsel, called the practice “dishonest” and “misleading,” adding that the state can revoke or suspend the licenses or fine brokers who use titles illegally.
“I think there are some agents who are going to be upset but, at the end of the day, the law is the law,” he said.
Some industry professionals were shocked that other brokers are willing to stoop so low.
“The code of ethics covers that,” Adelaide Polsinelli, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated, told The Commercial Observer. “If it’s a reputable firm and you’re researching a broker, you can always check their website.”
Fancy titles aside, the term “broker” itself has potential for abuse, as it seems to have become a generic term for any salesperson, she added, noting that a true broker has earned a license.
As for her own fancy title as senior director:
“You can’t be a senior anything unless you have the experience and track record to back it up,” Ms. Polsinelli said. “It’s something that you should earn. It speaks to who you are in the marketplace.”