Solicitation opt-out program takes effect

Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) encouraged residents list their address in a registry restricting real-estate agents from soliciting.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Mark Hallum

A cease-and-desist list targeting unwanted real estate solicitations went into effect with the new year, allowing residents of northeast Queens to opt out of receiving fliers and door-to-door visits.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who fought to have at least part of an expired cease-and-desist zone restored, reminded residents of Auburndale, Bayside, College Point, Malba, Murray Hill, North Flushing, and Whitestone to add their addresses to the list on the Department of State website.

“There may be 1,033 houses already on the list, but there is always room for more,” Avella said. “The Department of State will continue to accept new submissions and will update the list monthly.”

The cease-and-desist list established by the Department of State emulates a zone covering all of Queens County that was established in 1989 and expired in 2014. At three public hearings, residents and civic associations blasted the real estate industry for tactics they considered aggressive and complained of fliers littering their communities.

According to the Department of State, “no licensed real estate broker or salesperson shall solicit the sale, lease or the listing for sale or lease of residential property from an owner of residential property located in a designated cease-and-desist zone if such owner has filed a cease-and-desist notice with the Department of State indicating that such owner or owners do not desire to sell, lease or list their residential property and do not desire to be solicited to sell, lease or list their residential property.”

The new list will expire in 2022, but the IDC senator is hoping to get a law passed in the state to ban real estate solicitations in Queens indefinitely.

Avella claimed that an April 2016 hearing was overrun with real estate brokers, agents and salespeople posing as residents against cease-and-desist zones. Of the 38 people who testified, 11 were non-Realtors, all of whom described real estate solicitation as extreme, Avella said in a news release after the event. One of the residents giving testimony against cease-and-desist was a former president of the Long Island Board of Realtors. Avella said she testified as one of his own constituents.

At a July press conference organized by Avella, Auburndale Improvement Association President Terri Pouymari, North Flushing Senior Center Director Betty Faraone and Bay Terrace resident Phil Konigsberg complained of litter from fliers and junk mail becoming commonplace in their neighborhoods. People who wish to sell will seek out a real estate agent on their own terms, they said.

Pouymari also expressed concern that real estate developers could be turning homes in single-family zones into illegal conversions.

“Though I wish that the cease-and-desist zone covered the entire borough of Queens, I think we have taken a very big step towards protecting homeowners from the predatory tactics of real estate agents that became a norm in our neighborhoods,” Avella said in July 2017.

“These new zones will also help to promote a better relationship between homeowners and real estate agents who work and live in the community. The creation of these zones is a common-sense solution to the aggressive real estate industry campaign to bully homeowners into thinking it is time to sell their home. I thank the Department of State for realizing that the solicitation residents faced was intense and unending, and for taking action to put an end to this.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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