By Kay Wilson-Bolton
October 15, 2005
Every community in Ventura County is subject to the tragic conditions of predatory and bad real estate and lending business practices.
Every culture and every business has its share of predators, and they come in various forms. In cooperation with the Ventura County District Attorney and the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®, the Board of Supervisors has authorized a program that will raise an estimated $250,000 to combat such business practices.
A $2 fee will be attached to every deed recorded in Ventura County for the next year. An investigator will be assigned to this division and the DA’s office will move towards a no-tolerance position with regard to predatory practices.
One could argue that the real estate industry should monitor its own bad eggs, but the Department of Real Estate is testing between 20,000 and 30,000 candidates each month. While only half of them pass the exam, only half of them will join the National Association of REALTORS® in order to give us oversight over their practices.
The rest are left to the Department of Real Estate which has been known to take one year or longer to investigate.
The definition of a predator is one that eats its prey while its still alive. It is not a pretty picture, but it does characterize the moves and the results of a predator who victimizes a borrower, a buyer or a seller. Many of us believe this is a multi-million dollar problem in Ventura County and is taking a terrible toll on innocent people, many of which are non-English speaking.
Just for the record, if an agent you speak to is not a REALTOR®, they cannot be held accountable by us as their peers.
There are stories of lenders refinancing homeowners out of fixed rate loans into variable loans at high loan fees, leaving them very vulnerable in a market of rising interest rates.
Buyers are vulnerable when they purchase homes without the benefit of home inspections and later discover defects that are expensive to repair and mitigate.
Sellers are often victimized when agents insist on taking office exclusives without the benefit of multiple listing service and do not provide proper assistance in completing their paperwork leaving them open for lawsuits later on for improper disclosures.
The test is always to understand everything you sign. If you don’t, seek legal advice or consult with another professional.
The gray area comes when one tries to defend a bad practice as a sharp practice. Good business strategies can usually pass the smell test.
REALTORS® care about good service and oppose any real estate agent or lender who uses predatory practices. They need to be put out of business.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista CENTURY 21 Ojai Valley. She can be reached at 805.340.5025.