An amendment to New York State law, effective January 1, 2011, requires that an agency disclosure form be used in all transactions involving “residential real property.” With the stated objections of “helping you to make informed choices about your relationship with the real estate broker and its sales agents,” the form is a coup for consumers venturing into the complex world of real estate – if they receive it. The form was news to me when my Corocran agent, Arlene Booth, attached it to an email written 4 July, close to two months after I made my first offer on the property. Her email read:

As I went through my records I recognized that it was not signed initially so please just sign and I will add the date.

Why would Booth go so far as to ask me to not date this form when presenting it to me just days after I signed a purchase contract? Turns out it was long overdue, as the March/April 2011 issue of New York State REALTOR demonstrates:

As can be seen by RPL§443(3)(a)-(c), the agency disclosure form set forth in RPL§443(4) must be presented to a consumer at “first substantive contact.” . . . “Substantive contact” occurs should a buyer express serious interest in discussing the terms of an offer or where a seller’s agent is helping a buyer identify suitable property.

As my real estate purchase began to unravel, after learning that the property had no certificate of occupancy, I brought various grievances to Corcoran’s Fort Greene Managing Director Juliana Brown. The confident administrator that she is, Brown assured me that Booth’s tardy disclosure form was not “illegal” as I said. Rather, she mentioned, the form was something that the office had voluntarily implemented.

Apparently the agency disclosure form was as much news to her as it was to me. Brown got the law wrong and actively defended her agents illegal actions. Confusion surrounding a new law is inevitable, but is outright denail of the law acceptable from a real estate firm’s managing director? Had the disclosure form been as insignifant as Brown expressed, why would Booth be motivated to postdate the document?