Brooklyn could become a real estate ‘cease-and-desist’ zone under new law

Houses in Crown Heights.
Photo by Susan de Vries

Legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul could make Brooklyn a real estate “cease-and-desist” zone following a public input period just launched by the state.  

The legislation, sponsored by Brownsville Assemblymember Nick Perry and central Brooklyn State Senator Kevin Parker, was signed by Hochul in early November. The Department of State announced in early December that they would begin seeking input from Brooklyn residents as they entered into an investigation into whether the borough was worthy of the designation.

The legislation is intended to protect Brooklyn homeowners from frequent solicitation from real estate brokers intent on convincing them to sell their homes, a constant occurrence in Brooklyn throughout the past decade as housing inventory has decreased dramatically. 

The last thing homeowners should have to deal with are unwanted solicitations at their door,” Hochul said in a statement. “This legislation brings us one step closer to protecting Brooklyn homeowners from aggressive real estate solicitations.”

Perry said many Kings County homeowners are being “besieged” by broker solicitations.

“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,” he said. “This law should serve to slow down the pace that these communities are transformed and at least prevent current homeowners from facing daily harassing contact by unwelcome buyers.”

Making the entire borough a real estate cease-and-desist zone would allow Brooklyn homeowners to add their names to a “cease-and-desist” list that prohibits real estate investors from contacting them regarding selling their homes. Several of these zones exist throughout New York, including in East New York, parts of Queens including Flushing, and parts of the Bronx including Country Club. 

For homeowners like Deborah Mutnick, who owns a home in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and is a board member of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association, the solicitations have been a nuisance for years.

Mutnick estimates she receives about one offer a month over either text, by phone, or over email of someone offering to buy her house with cash. 

“I am barraged with solicitations,” she said. “The most recent one was yesterday.” 

The Brooklynite showed support for Hochul’s move.

“It exacerbates already existing gentrification trends, drives up rents and prices, and makes the neighborhood less affordable for the very people that are most entitled to stay here,” she said. “I would do anything that would stop this from happening.”