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Real estate license fees are expected to increase

Real estate brokers and real estate agents are likely looking at increased licensing fees.

Earlier this week, the state Assembly passed A.5363 by a 113-35 vote with both Assemblymen Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, voting against the measure. The state Senate passed a companion bill, S.2133, in February by a 45-17 vote with state Sen. George Borrello, R-Gowanda, voting against. Fees for real estate brokers will increase by $30 while fees for real estate agents will increase $10. The increased money will be used for fair housing testing efforts around the state.

“It reminds me of our state’s motto — “Excelsior” — which as all of you know means ever upward,” Goodell said. “It seems that is the motto that we have when comes to fees and expenses, which I is a little different than when that motto was first selected when we were talking about ever upward in terms of economic opportunity and progress. It maybe a small amount, but it’s one more fee and increase that we impose on this beleaguered industry and for that reason I will be opposing it and recommending the same for my colleagues.”

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre, D-Lindenhurst and sponsor of the Assembly bill, said paired testing is a tool to identify and eliminate housing discrimination. She said mechanisms such as coded language, steering, provision of unequal services and placement of greater financial requirements on minorities are used to maintain residential segregation. Implementing a surcharge on the licensing fees for brokers and agents would provide funding dedicated to statewide fair housing testing efforts, including but not limited to the practice of paired testing.

Jean-Pierre also cited a 2019 story in Newsday titled “Long Island Divided” that laid blame for housing discrimination in explicit and implicit bias in the real estate industry. The newspaper series reported that some real estate agents on Long Island were steering clients toward certain neighborhoods based on perceived race or ethnicity. As a response, Nassau County appointed a special housing counsel, pledged increased enforcement of open housing laws, strengthened the Nassau County Human Rights Commission and established a Fair Housing Advisory Board. Suffolk County hired an outside agency to test for housing discrimination, strengthened the county’s Human Rights Commission and began raising awareness about fair housing laws.

“Two years ago Newsday published disturbing results of a three-year investigation which revealed widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island,” Jean-Pierre said. “This investigation confirmed what many of us already know to be true — that there are certain bad actors in real estate agencies who discriminate against people of color and steer certain individuals to certain communities based on the color of their skin — a practice that has no place in our society. … When we look at how our communities and our school districts are segregated this is a part of why districts in low-income communities can’t receive the resources they fairly deserve , because we have had realtors like this that have steered people away from living in one community over another community because of the color of their skin and because of their financial history. This will allow us to earmark a specific fund — and it’s not to increase any taxes — but it will earmark a specific fund through the Attorney Generals’ office to do more fair testing throughout our great state of New York so that people of color can live anywhere they want and don’t have to fear that there is going to be bad actors. If there are they will be penalized.”

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