Brokers with false titles must now toe the line, regulators say

The infamous business card scene in "American Psycho"
The infamous business card scene in "American Psycho"

Brokers with inflated business titles are now prohibited by state regulators from identifying themselves by titles that they haven’t actually received, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a letter sent Friday by New York’s Department of State to the Real Estate Board of New York, brokers using titles such as vice president or executive vice president may no longer use them unless they have actually been appointed to those positions. In many cases, brokers were arbitrarily using those titles, and the letter termed their actions “dishonest” and “misleading.”

“Agents [are] prohibited from falsely advertising that they hold such a position within the brokerage,” according to the letter written by Whitney Clark, an attorney with the department.

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REBNY’s legal counsel Neil Garfinkel told the Journal that the letter was drafted in response to an earlier inquiry by the board. “It is an opinion that affects the industry in a widespread way,” he said. “I’d say there are many, many brokers this affects.”

“I think there are some agents who are going to be upset but, at the end of the day, the law is the law,” he added.

Some brokers have expressed their disappointment with the decision. “A title to a broker is very important,” one brokerage spokesman told the Journal. “Even though they’re not voting titles, it designates a sort of level of achievement. How would you present yourself in the industry without a title?” [WSJ]Hiten Samtani