April 24, 2013

The meeting was held at the Department of State, Division of Licensing Services, 99 Washington Avenue, Albany; 123 William Street, NYC; and, 65 Court Street, Buffalo and included an open public hearing session on general real estate issues following the Board meeting.

List of attendees:

Board Members:
Daniel Burstein, representing Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent, Dept. of Financial Services
Joseph Berko
David Dworkin
Sandra Erickson
Trisha Ocona Francis
David Leno
Duncan MacKenzie
John O’Hara
Diane Ramirez
Eileen Spinola
Gregory Weston
Dale Burnett
David Rumsey

Department of State Staff:
Marcos Vigil, Deputy Secretary of State
Kathleen McCoy, Director of Licensing Services
Aqil Qureshi
Whitney Clark
John Goldman
Keith Simon
MaryJo Moore
Amy Penzabene
Marc Mastrobuono
Carol Fansler
Melanie Grossman, Div. of Consumer Protection
Ron Schwartz

Priscilla Toth, NYS Association of Realtors (NYSAR)
Anthony Gatto, NYSAR
Blaise DiBernardo, NYSAR
Keith Oberg, NYS Association of Home Inspectors
Moses Seuram, Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR)
Matthew Siegel, NYS Office of Attorney General
Emily Granrud, NYS Office of Attorney General
Liz English, NYS Assoc. of Realtors Metro V.P.
Neil Garfinkel, Real Estate Bd. of NY (REBNY)
Chris McKniff, Hudson Gateway Assoc. of Realtors (HGAR)
Eileen Taus, HGAR
Cathy Nolan, LIBOR


The meeting was called to order at 10:35am.  Deputy Secretary of State Marcos Vigil made opening remarks, roll call was taken and a quorum was declared.


M. Vigil asked for a motion to approve the November 13, 2012 meeting summary. 

A motion was made to approve the summary of the board meeting and public hearing held on November 13, 2012.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

J. Goldman shared complaint statistics:  The total number of complaints received in 2012 was 953.  350 of those are currently open for further investigation or pending disciplinary action.  From January-March, 2013 the Department received 190 complaints compared to 264 in 2012.  E. Spinola asked what subjects are most common in complaints.  J. Goldman stated that most complaints are in regard to agency in some way.  A board member asked if there was a way to notify respondents to a case when the complaint has been resolved.  J. Goldman agreed that respondents should be notified, and M. Vigil ensured that in the future respondents will be notified when a case is resolved.

D. MacKenzie spoke for the trends committee, and shared that the committee met to discuss two topics.  The first discussion was based on a letter received from the Attorney General’s office regarding confusion in the marketplace about allowing broker rebates.  After discussion, they agreed that the Department should seek legislation that would clarify the statute allowing broker rebates when not involved with a license activity.  The committee will draft proposed legislation.  The second topic was revising section 175.1 of Title 19 NYCRR to better define depositing of escrow monies, which was discussed in length at the last board meeting.  Board members received draft changes prior to today’s meeting.

D. MacKenzie made a motion to approve the draft changes to 175.1 of Title 19 NYCRR.  The motion was seconded by J. O’Hara and passed unanimously.

The trends committee also discussed creating an “inactive” status for licensees, which would avoid a licensee having to start over when they return to work.  W. Clark stated that this would require a legislative change, so she is reviewing other states requirements.  The committee needs to discuss how continuing education would be affected during the inactive period.  They hope to have draft language ready for the next board meeting.

W. Clark said that a new issue the trends committee has not yet discussed is a trend by certain municipalities to create local laws or internal policies that appear to require brokers to overstep their scope of practice (i.e. unauthorized practice of law or conducting an unlicensed home inspection) or violate current statute and regulations (i.e. law of agency).  This issue will be discussed by the trends committee, and may result in asking for a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s office.

S. Erickson spoke for the education committee, and stated that the committee is continuing work on reviewing the broker curriculum for any possible changes.  The results of the survey sent to schools (asking if there are any topics they feel should be included in the broker curriculum, if they feel enough time is dedicated for each topic, and if they feel enough time is dedicated specifically to law of agency) were reviewed and the top three subjects they believe should have more hours dedicated to are office operation, agency and real estate investments.  The committee will discuss diversity as a continuing education topic once the current pending regulations are adopted. 


W. Clark spoke about public comments received regarding changes to the advertising regulations.  She shared suggested changes based on public comments and, after some discussion, asked for a motion to approve these changes.  Members agreed the new regulations should become effective January 2, 2014.

D. MacKenzie made a motion to approve the draft advertising regulations with the proposed changes.  The motion was seconded by J. O’Hara and passed unanimously.


There was no new business.


C. Nolan spoke about frustrations dealing with the trend by certain municipalities in NYC who are  creating local laws or internal policies that appear to require brokers to overstep their scope of practice, which was discussed earlier in the meeting.

A public member said she feels that the biggest issue in real estate is that brokers need to be updated on what employees who work for them can and cannot do in regard to the license law.  She feels many employees are doing tasks they should not be doing.  J. Goldman shared that there is a Department opinion letter that states what employees can and cannot do; that letter will be shared with board members and put on our web site.

K. Obert spoke for the NYS Association of Home Inspectors (NYSAHI) and said that NYSAHI has created a document about the importance of a home inspection that they would like to alert home buyers to and ask that they sign off on.  They believe the message is important for consumer protection, and it also clarifies the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal.  They also believe it will help with agent liability.  Local realtor boards have given positive feedback on this document.  They are urging support of this Board and assistance from the Department in creating a statewide document.  After some discussion, it was decided this issue would be further discussed by the trends committee.


M. Vigil asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.

A motion was made to adjourn the real estate board meeting.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 11:45am.


The public hearing was opened at 11:45am.

There was no public comment.

The public hearing was closed at 11:46am.