The Real Deal New York

Only brokers can have manager or supervisor titles

State clarifies role of associate broker at REBNY request
By Mark Maurer | August 28, 2013 11:11AM

If associate brokers want an oversight role as a manager or supervisor at a firm, they must upgrade to a broker license first, according to another clarification of the state’s real estate law.

The state’s initial crackdown on titles in April barred hundreds of brokers from using elevated titles such as vice president, senior vice president or director if they did not own shares in their respective firms.

Widespread anger prompted the Real Estate Board of New York, through general counsel Neil Garfinkel, to go back to the state for more guidance. Garfinkel received a response late last week from the Department of State associate attorney Whitney Clark, who made clear that only a broker – not an associate broker or salesperson – can be a corporate officer and can be “involved in the management, supervision or control of the brokerage company.”

“I think this letter does a very good job of clarifying some of the open questions that had been lingering about the use of titles,” Garfinkel said. “We now know who can have a corporate title.”

State law also defines the manager of a branch office as an associate broker, a position that Michael Barbolla holds at Charles Rutenberg Realty. Barbolla helps to manage roughly 500 employees from the brokerage’s sole office, which has desks for up to 20 brokers at a time.

“When I started in real estate, a vice president title was something I was hoping to get,” said Barbolla, who sees his office manager title as an internal one. “But, when the dust settles in a couple months, it won’t be a big deal. We just have to do what the DOS tells us to do.”

A promotion from associate broker to broker comes with the obligation to supervise other agents. If, for example, an associate broker fails to have an agency disclosure form signed, the supervising broker would be fined as well, said Alfred Fazio, counsel for the Manhattan Association of Realtors.

Fazio expects the state will be less willing to negotiate fines if the broker has not complied with the title rules.

“It opens the door for the state to check everything out,” Fazio said, adding this could lead to more fines or possibly a suspended license for repeat offenders.

“If they want to get fined, that’s up to them,” he said.

  • SeniorSuperStarVP

    Time well spent focusing on this. Another BIG win for the Dept. of State. Way to go fellas!! This city got just a little safer today.

    • lettuceny

      Ha? How many people really thought that an associate broker or salesperson with a vice president title was actually an officer of the company? Even if they did think that, do you really believe that the consumer thought they were dealing with an owner of the company? Of course not. This is just one more case of big government getting too big and not allowing market forces to dictate. With blogs like this one and other means for consumers to share their thoughts, this is an over-reach by a government who thinks that people are stupid / ignorant and need to be protected by laws. If you know of a broker / associate broker / salesperson who is not ethical, post it here and on other blogs in your market. Word will spread pretty fast and that person will have no business. Hasn’t everyone learned that one oh sh-t trumps all the atta-boys?