Dolgetta Law

D.O.S. Opinion Ends Use of Corporate Titles by Real Estate Salespersons

Historically, it has been common practice for real estate licensees in Manhattan and often in other areas of New York State, to be granted by their principal broker, the right for marketing purposes, to refer to themselves as “President, Vice President, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, Managing Director” or similar titles. This is a practice also employed by banks and other enterprises in which the use of such titles enhance the apparent stature of the person dealing with a member of the public.

When real estate salespersons, particularly in New York City, change offices, a salesperson with a significant history of success is often in the position to negotiate a title as part of the new affiliation. Rarely are such individuals in fact employe ecorporate officers of the entity. Rather, such persons continue to function as licensed associate real estate brokers or as salespersons.

On March 12, 2013 counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York (a non-Realtor trade association whose membership includes approximately 9,000 residential sales agents in New York City) requested an Opinion from the Department of State as to whether the use of such titles is permissible. On April 26, 2013, an Opinion was issued by Whitney A. Clark, Associate Attorney for the Department of State-Division of Licensing Services, stating that in Ms. Clark’s opinion “brokerages may not provide corporate titles to agents for marketing or other purposes. Agents would similarly be prohibited from falsely advertising that they hold such a position within the brokerage.”

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