Real estate agents lose corporate titles in New York

Real estate agents in New York have lost their corporate titles.

Thousand of commercial real estate agents lost business titles in 2013 after the New York Department of State said that corporate titles without any actual corporate obligations were illegal. Titles such as senior vice president and executive managing director have fallen by the wayside, thanks to the Department of State, which issues real estate licenses.

Nest Seekers International real estate agent Alex Dietrich is one New Yorker who has lost a title. Now clients are quizzing him about a reduction in rank.

"They ask, 'Have you been demoted?'" Dietrich told The New York Times. "It is not ideal."

Like many others, Dietrich, who was a vice president and managing director until those titles were deemed illegal, had to throw away business cards, clean up websites and get rid of brochures to rid himself of anything with his former title on it in order to avoid up to a $1,000 violation.

"There was a fair amount of hysteria," said Harriet Kaufman, a former senior managing director who is now a broker at Warburg Realty.

However, the rule is not new. The State Department said its been around for at least 50 years, but few complaints were ever made pertaining to the issue. It soon got out of hand.

"Everybody started to try and outdo each other and it became Senior Executive Chief Whatever Bottlewasher," said Kirk Henckels, the vice chairman at Stribling. "I can understand needing to clarify that for the public good."

Frederick Peters, the president of Warburg Realty, said his firm debated alternative titles.

"We couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound kind of silly," Peters said. "Realistically, what are you going to do? Though several agents told me they wanted to be called 'Queen.' I loved that idea, 'Real Estate Queen.'"

Lack of titles not hurting all
While some brokers are worried that the loss of a title will impact future business, many haven't noticed a change.

"Maybe a handful of people have mentioned something, but it's not really noticed," said Jimmi Circosta, a former senior vice president and now a broker at Citi Habitats. "Which is depressing, too."

The deputy secretary of state for business services and consumer protection, Marcos Vigil, said that guidelines and instruction would soon be released in the coming weeks to help ameliorate the title situation.

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