Residents want a break from aggressive realtors 1

Joined by a number of Queens civic leaders and one ex-real estate agent, state Sen. Tony Avella calls for reinstating and expanding a law aimed at reining in overly pushy home sellers.

If you’ve been deluged with unsolicited phone calls, fliers and knocks on your front door from real estate agents eager for your business, you’re not alone.

To address the issue, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), along with civic leaders and area residents, met with members of the press outside his office on Bell Boulevard on Aug. 6. The senator indicated his desire to provide for a Queenswide real estate non-solicitation zone for residents.

A law, which had protected residents in certain eligible areas from excessive solicitations, expired in August of last year, making community members vulnerable once again to an influx of real estate solicitations.

Under the senator’s “Cease and Desist” bill, residents in certain neighborhoods were able to petition to be included on a list that would exempt their addresses from unwanted solicitations. Once these neighborhoods were declared “cease and desist” areas, they maintained that designation for five years.

Avella would like to see the protections under the previous law not only reinstated but expanded and the process for inclusion on the “cease and desist” list expedited.

The new legislation would designate the entire borough as a “non-solicitation zone.”

Avella said he found out about a year ago that the “list of homeowners who do not want to be solicited went away, disappeared, expired, is gone.” The new bill hasn’t moved yet, he said, “and the situation has only gotten worse.”

Avella indicated that on the state Department of State website, one “can find no reference to the cease and desist law, period. This is absurd.”

Speaking from personal experience, Avella said, “I get a mailer every day from real estate agents at my home. I don’t need it, I don’t want it.”

He added, “Some people knock on doors, leaving notes in their screen door. This is harassment.”

He compared the practice to “old-fashioned block-busting,” saying, “There is nothing more annoying to a homeowner than to be bothered by somebody about ‘Do you wanna sell?’ This has got to stop.”

More than a half-dozen community leaders expressed similar complaints. One, Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose Hillside Civic Association, said, “I can remember years ago, we had an individual come into our neighborhood; he went knocking on doors saying, ‘We’re going to turn this place into an Indian village.’ It should be totally illegal.”

Robert Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc., said, “I am dumbfounded to try to understand why this law has suddenly disappeared.”

Former real estate agent Angela Augugliaro suggested, “The real estate lobby is very strong. Agencies make money by having houses listed and selling houses. They don’t care who they bother.”

She called the practice “an annoyance,” adding, “I’m strongly in favor of a cease and desist law.”

Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association and a 38-year homeowner, said, “You can imagine how many fliers I’ve gotten over the years — and for no reason.”

He suggested, “We’re a nation of marketing. You know when you want to sell your house. You don’t need scare tactics telling you when you want to move.”

North Flushing resident Paul Graziano related an incident that had occurred a week earlier, when it took him a full 10 minutes to get an aggressive real estate agent to leave his property.

And Henry Euler, of the Auburndale Improvement Association, said, “Some real estate agents are very responsible. I would think they would be in favor of something like this (the cease and desist law) to stop those real estate agents that are irresponsible.”

Avella called upon the civic groups and other area residents to help send a message upstate. “Anyone who doesn’t want these solicitations, mail them to me,” he said. “I want to put together a big box — hopefully, boxes — and dump them on the Secretary of State’s office in Albany because I don’t think Albany gets it.”

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