Spring Valley, NY – More than 200 people gathered at Rockland Community College on Wednesday night to share their concerns about blockbusting by aggressive real estate agents with representatives of the Department of State.
The meeting lasted for three hours, reported The Journal News, and was part of a state investigation into whether residents were being unfairly pressured to sell their homes.
Chestnut Ridge has witnessed an explosion of Orthodox Jewish homeowners over the past several years. Resident Claudia Gollub said that she has been harassed by those eager to buy her house, with one telling her that if she didn’t sell her house she would blacklisted, forcing her to sell her property at lower than market price if she ever chose to relocate.
Dozens of residents shared similar stories, some telling of solicitors walking into their homes uninvited, hoping to persuade them to sell their property.
Bruce Goldsmith of Chestnut Ridge said that he has been pressured to sell repeatedly by one individual, adding “it has been hell.”
More than five dozen real estate agents also attended the meeting which was convened to discuss creating a cease and desist zone in Rockland County, allowing homeowners to add their homes to a list that would protect them from unwanted solicitations. Violators could be punished by the state.
Rand Realty agent Laurie DiFrancesco said that real estate agents have been knocking on doors and leaving flyers at prospective properties for years but acknowledged that times are changing. She asked the state not to create a cease and desist zone that would punish an entire industry because of the actions of “some really bad apples.”
Another Rand broker, Roberta Bangs, called upon the state only to punish those who are guilty of blockbusting.
“To tar and cost other people who legitimately earn their living doing real estate in Rockland County, to cause them to stop doing their business they way they’ve been trained and taught to do, and the way they are allowed to do under the law, that’s going to hurt everybody,” said Bangs.
There are currently no active cease and desist zones in New York State, with previously enacted zones in Queens and the Bronx expiring just over two years ago. Toms River, New Jersey established two cease and desist zones on the border it shares with Lakewood this past March.