Dolgetta Law

Our High Property Taxes – Do Our Assessors Make up the Rules?

Approximately two years ago our lower Hudson Valley market was impacted by negative publicity indicating that Westchester and Rockland County property tax assessments were amongst the five highest in the nation. The publicity was based upon census data used by the Tax Foundation and was reported in the New York Times. It reflected real estate taxes paid from 2006-2008 and showed that the median property tax bill of Westchester County residents was $8,404.00, the highest in the nation.
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The Copyright Conundrum

A “conundrum” is an intricate and difficult problem. A “copyright” is an intangible intellectual property right. It is a creature of Federal Law under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. §101, et seq.). In the Spring of 2012, our Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service became aware that a website operator under the name of “” was publishing information taken from the HGMLS database and also providing agent scores and performance metrics based upon the individual transaction histories for each salesperson. HGMLS sent a cease and desist letter to NeighborCity. Two other MLSs similarly affected brought suit against NeighborCity and its parent company, American Home Realty Network, Inc., a licensed real estate broker located in California. These two MLSs were the St. Paul, Minnesota based regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. (NorthStar MLS) and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS), the largest multiple listing service in the U.S. which services over 40,000 real estate licensees in the Mid-Atlantic region including Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. The litigation commenced by the two MLSs against American Home Realty Network, Inc. were in part, funded by
the National Association of Realtors.
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Innocence, Negligence and Avoidance

There is a fine line between innocence, negligence and avoidance. That is not true in every aspect of life but it is surely true in the context of being a licensee of the Department of State. This article will address situations in which brokers and their salespersons can find themselves in difficult circumstances because of matters overlooked, not addressed or not understood.
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The Realtor Code of Ethics Continues To Evolve

At the very heart of Realtor® membership is the contractual obligation of every Realtor® to abide by the Realtor® Code of Ethics and the Standards of Practice of the National Association of Realtors®. Each year on January 1, the Realtor® Code of Ethics is republished by NAR to reflect changes necessitated by the changing dynamic in our industry.
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Non-Recourse Debt

When homeowners acquire their residence and enter into a mortgage, the lender in real estate transactions has what is known as a recourse loan. The loan is secured by the signatures of the buyers and collateralized by the real property acquired. If a bank should, at some point in the future, be required to foreclose because of the non-payment of the obligation, the bank has, in New York what is known as “an election of remedies”. This election allows a bank to sue on the note or to sue on the mortgage. Suing on the mortgage means a foreclosure action. Suing on the note means pursuing a client’s liquid assets, such as bank accounts, securities brokerage accounts and other money equivalents. If after a foreclosure action the proceeds of sale do not satisfy the indebtedness, the borrowers remain liable for the deficiency.
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Syndication – Why All the Fuss?

As the year 2012 begins, the issue of syndication appears to be at the forefront of discussions throughout the industry. When you take a listing and submit it to the MLS do you know where the listing information will be published? Is your principal broker monitoring the sites in which your listing appears? Are you receiving complaints from consumers who have listed their property with you about out-of-date information which appears on the internet? Are purchasers of property who have closed on homes that you offered for sale calling to ask why their property is being offered on the internet? Are you responsible as the listing agent to ensure that the information on the internet is up to date? Is the MLS responsible? Are principal brokers capable of monitoring where the firm’s listings appear, whether the information is accurate and whether the sites at which the listings appear were ever authorized to display information?
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Appeals Court Affirms Rights of Surviving Joint Tenant

On November 15, 2011, the case of Trotta v. Ollivier was decided by the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department. This important case affirms the right of a joint tenant to inherit (by operation of law) a property held in a joint tenancy without the potential for a claim for equal contributions to the property by the Estate of the deceased joint owner.


On November 17, 1992, Susan Leone and Charles Ollivier purchased property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The property was located in Effort, Pennsylvania. Mr. Ollivier and Ms. Leone lived together as an unmarried couple for a period of time after the property was purchased. Susan Leone used $90,000.00 of her own funds to purchase the property and incurred expenses relating to a construction loan and other closing costs. Over the period of time she owned the property, up to her death, she expended $226,500.00 from her own funds in connection with the property. Ollivier allegedly did not contribute any funds to the purchase of the property or the carrying costs. In any event, there was no evidence that Mr. Ollivier contributed anything comparable to what Ms. Leone paid out.

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Are You A Short Sale Expert?

If you have obtained a designation as a short sale expert, provide services to individuals or brokers based upon your expertise as a short sale expert or charge specific fees for negotiating short sales, you must comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s MARS Rule. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) put into effect the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (“MARS”) Rule (“MARS Rule” or “Rule”) which became effective on January 31, 2011. It was generally understood that any real estate broker who was involved in negotiating with a lender to obtain a short sale consent on behalf of a seller would fall within the MARS Rule and therefore be required to make a series of disclosures and comply with the various requirements of the Rule.
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Buyer Agency, Dual Agency, Property Condition Disclosure and Short Sales are Focus of Legal Scan

Every two years, the National Association of Realtors conducts a survey of its member boards to determine what issues Realtors face. The 2011 Legal Scan was recently published and indicates that Realtors nationally continue to be concerned about (1) the lack of education of Realtors regarding agency issues; (2) the nuances of buyer brokerage; (3) the nuances of dual agency; (4) fiduciary duties; and (5) disclosure of short sale issues.
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Broker Protection Clauses (Owners Obligations after the Expiration of the Listing)

A real estate brokerage commission case in United Real Estate & Property Management, Inc. v. Ihar Unkown a/k/a Igor Charnyshov and Volha Yablonskaya (28 Misc.3d 804, 905 N.Y.S.2d 487, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 20228) is a perfect reminder as to why our MLS and most MLS standard listing agreements include a broker protection clause. The United Real Estate case was decided in Kings County Civil Court on June 11, 2010. In summary, the Court held that when a salesperson left her broker’s office to affiliate elsewhere and the listing expired, even though negotiations were in process at the time that the salesperson changed offices, the original broker could not secure payment of its commission because no broker protection clause existed in the listing agreement.
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