State law updated to reflect the fact that not all real estate salespeople are men

State law updated to reflect the fact that not all real estate salespeople are men
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation on August 18 that amends a nearly century-old piece of New York State law dealing to real estate salespeople by removing outdated, gender-specific terminology and inserting gender-neutral language in its place. The new law takes effect immediately. (Photo courtesy of Anna Kaplan)

On Aug. 18, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation, S.536a/A.8077a, introduced by Sen. Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell (D-Morningside Heights), that updates the nearly century-old section of New York State law relating to real estate salespeople, striking antiquated, gender-specific language and replacing it with gender-neutral language. The new law takes effect immediately.

Prior to the enactment of the new law, the underlying section of the State’s real property law, which regulates the real estate brokerage and sales professions and was written in 1927, included 85 references to “salesmen” and dozens of instances of gendered pronouns like he, him and his. The law only included references to a “salesperson” in two places and made no references to “saleswomen.”

Sen. Anna M. Kaplan said “jobs have no gender, but unfortunately, many of our State’s laws still use gendered language when discussing professions that are practiced by people of all genders. It’s important that we update these antiquated sections of the law to reflect our New York values and send a message that everyone, regardless of gender, should be able to pursue their passions.”

Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell said “People of all professions deserve to feel valued, but gendered language in our real property law fails to adequately recognize the contributions of women and non-binary New Yorkers. We want our workplaces to reflect the diversity of New York and the best way to achieve that goal is by making sure all realtors feel that they belong and the profession is accessible. I thank Sen. Kaplan for her leadership on this issue and I am pleased that Gov. Hochul has signed this important measure into law.”

The legislation, S.536a/A.8077a, updates Article 12-A of the Real Property Law by:

  • Changing all instances of the word salesman to salesperson.
  • Removing gendered language from the Article by removing references to “his or her” in favor of “their,” change “himself” to “themselves,” as well as appropriate changes in variations to these words.

According to studies by the New York State Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors, men are actually a minority in the profession, with women representing 64% of Realtors nationally and in New York State. By removing gendered language from the State’s real property law, the law will finally reflect the gender diversity of the real estate sales profession.

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