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A Historic Day For New York City Residential Agents
July 9, 2019
BY JAMES WHELAN
New York has the best real estate brokers in the world. It takes considerable grit, savvy and determination to succeed in such a highly competitive profession in the world’s most competitive town. Our brokers demonstrate such skills daily.
Our residential brokerage community came together in a historic show of force at City Hall on June 27th. Hundreds of REBNY residential agents and brokers attended a thunderous rally on the steps of City Hall and a subsequent City Council hearing on a bill that would cap certain residential brokerage rental commissions.
The agents in attendance carried signs and wore buttons that said, “Don’t Cap My Income!” They spoke with clarity and emotion about their opposition to Intro 1423. This unprecedented unity could not be missed as the line of agents waiting to enter stretched a full city block on each side of City Hall.
Gratitude is owed to every single agent and broker who showed up on a hot summer day to oppose the bill and support the REBNY community, and residential brokers at large. Many of you sacrificed a day of income (for the second time in two weeks) to say loudly and clearly that this legislation is misguided. Hundreds of you were turned away at the gates of City Hall. Dozens of you waited hours to deliver emotional testimony, articulating why this legislation is such a bad idea. You demonstrated incredible dedication to your profession and our industry.
If passed, it would limit how much an agent can collect from a prospective tenant at one month’s rent when an agent represents the property owner. This has the potential to either needlessly raise rents for New Yorkers or hurt the ability for residential real estate agents to be contracted and fairly compensated for their efforts. Reasonably, our brokers, who work hard for their commissions, fear the impact this bill would have on their livelihoods.
In fact, the bill may make our City’s housing affordability crisis worse than it already is. By pushing rental commission fees onto owners, the City Council may inadvertently ensure that those costs are pushed back onto tenants in the form of rent increases that will only continue to compound upon lease renewal. These concerns—as well as many others—were voiced by our community at the public hearing in the City Council Chambers.
We will continue to advocate against 1423. We also will continue to work with City Council members, including the bill’s lead sponsor, Keith Powers, to identify meaningful ways to address the City’s affordable housing crisis without hurting middle class New Yorkers, like our agents and brokers. (While we may have a policy disagreement in this instance, it is important to acknowledge that Council Member Powers listened and engaged with each and every one of us who testified at the lengthy hearing and for the past several months has individually met with many of our members to hear their concerns about the legislation.)
Being an agent or broker in New York City is a tough job. The industry is getting more and more competitive and technology continues to change the environment in which agents and brokers operate. Despite the changes that are taking place, agents and brokers must invest extensive amounts of time and effort to become experts in their field. They continue to watch out for the best interests of both tenants and landlords. They should be fairly compensated for such work and expertise.
As our industry continuously evolves, REBNY will continue to fight and advocate for our amazing brokers – the world’s best.