Brooklyn residents who are being “harassed daily” by property developers wanting to buy their homes could soon get some relief.

On Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law forcing the State Department to consider whether Brooklyn should be designated as a real estate “cease and desist zone.”

If it were, Brooklyn homeowners could place themselves on a list prohibiting real estate brokers and salespeople from contacting them.

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the 11th Anniversary of the GodSquad. Photo: Supplied

Any agent found to be contacting homeowners on the list would face a $150 fine for the first infraction, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. They could also have their real estate license suspended.

“The last thing homeowners should have to deal with are unwanted solicitations at their door,” Governor Hochul said. 

“This legislation brings us one step closer to protecting Brooklyn homeowners from aggressive real estate solicitations.”

Followed to the store

Harassment from real estate prospectors has become a very real part of daily life for some Brooklyn homeowners in the past few years.

In East New York and Cypress Hills, residents have reported being followed to the grocery store and laundromat by investors looking to make a quick buck.

Meanwhile, community organizer Coalition for Community Advancement told BK Reader speculators have been harassing and lying to seniors and others in the East New York and Cypress Hills area to get them to sell their homes below market value, so they could resell them for huge profit.

The current cease-and-desist zone in Brooklyn covers a small area. Photo: NY Department of State

“Many homeowners in parts of Brooklyn are being besieged by aggressive solicitations by real estate brokers,” Assemblymember N. Nick Perry said.

“These sometimes predatory home-buying practices occur totally void of any concern about what happens to the neighborhood and the residents who chose those homes because of the character of the community.”

The Department of State has already made a portion of Brooklyn’s Community Board 5 (CB5) a real estate cease-and-desist zone, due to the pressures residents face.

As of Nov. 2, there were already more than 220 Brooklyn homeowners who had added their names to the list.

What’s next?

With Hochul’s push, the Department of State will now conduct an investigation to determine if Brooklyn needs to be designated as a real estate cease-and-desist zone. The public hearing and investigation on the zoning must be conducted within 90 days.

New York State Senator Kevin Parker, whose district includes parts of Flatbush and East Flatbush, said he applauded the governor’s push to make Brooklyn homeowners a priority, particularly senior citizens.

“This law will protect homeowners from illegal solicitation of their property and will designate zip codes in my district as cease-and-desist zones.

housing, brownstone, affordable housing, bed-stuy
Photo: Anna Bradley-Smith for BK Reader.

“This is a very important layer of protection for senior citizens who often times fall victims to these solicitations.”

Making Brooklyn a cease-and-desist zone would also protect renters, Wilfredo Florentino, a longtime CB5 board member, told BK Reader in 2020. 

“[Real estate speculators] are buying houses and flipping them to ensure that prices continue to balloon,” he said.

“When house prices balloon it also impacts the rental market. That’s why we are seeing rents increasing in the community. It’s meant to displace longtime residents who are majority Black and Brown folks.”

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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  1. This is a good idea and well intentioned. However, many of the investors, flippers, developers and others who contact owners in the hopes of getting Brooklyn real estate at fire sale prices are not licensed real estate agents, so this will not stop them. Real estate agents contact owners because they hope to represent them in a sale, not buy a property from them.

    1. Absolutely! They need to differentiate between the licensed real estate agents and the developers/ investors. The investors/developers are the ones who are flipping the homes and harassing homeowners. Not the licensed realtors who are respectfully doing their job and earning the business of a homeowner to represent them in selling their property.

  2. No, I have many call my phone Real estate agents and private investors. Also the ones who want to do a quick transaction to avoid paying high taxes on a new home they purchase. Some people are not looking at it from the homeowner perspective. They could care less. If my home is not for sale, leave me alone.

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