Saturday, September 19, 2009

Assemblywoman Pheffer Announces Extension of Evidentiary Period for the Renewal of the Queens County Real Estate Cease & Desist Program

Assemblywoman Audrey I Pheffer (D-Queens) is pleased that New York Secretary of State Lorraine Corres-Vasques has extended the time period to provide evidence for the need to continue the Cease and Desist Program.

According to Assemblywoman Pheffer, for many years, the Cease and Desist Program has prevented unscrupulous real estate brokers from soliciting Queen’s homeowners to sell their homes. Through the program, residents would add their names to a “Do Not Contact” list that remained in place for five years. Residents on the list could not be contacted by any means, including phone, mail or in person, by brokers seeking to encourage the sale of their homes. Brokers who violate the list are subject to fines and/or license suspension by the Secretary of State. Without the Cease and Desist program homeowners could be swamped by eager brokers looking to find new markets and increase their customer base.

The program expired on August 1st because the Secretary of State did not find sufficient evidence of improper solicitations by brokers. According to a letter received from Secretary Kathleen McCoy, Acting Director of the Department of State, “The Department of State did receive evidence of intense and repeated solicitation in certain communities of Queens County. Having met the evidentiary standard required by statute, the Secretary of State will be able to promulgate a cease and desist zone for these communities. However, the Department did not obtain such evidence for all areas of Queens County that were covered under the now expired cease and desist rule.”

“We are victims of success,” said Pheffer. “Most brokers have gotten the message over the years, rather than face heavy fines they greatly reduced solicitation of Queen’s homeowners.” “Now we are in danger of many brokers returning to the pressure tactics of the past, which will create a climate of fear and destabilization of our neighborhoods.”

The Assemblywoman had urged the Secretary of State to reevaluate her position last month and is pleased that Secretary Corres-Vasques has done so. The Secretary recently notified Assemblywoman Pheffer that the Department will continue to review evidence of improper solicitations through October 31st. “I urge all residents to contact my office and the Secretary of State directly to confirm any history of solicitation over the last five years,” said Pheffer. “It is vital that the program be reinstated as quickly as possible for the stability of our community.”

Any residents who have any history of solicitation may contact Secretary of State Lorraine Corres-Vasques, Department of State, 123 Williams Street, New York, NY 10038.