Predator Lending Alive and Well In Ventura County

 

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

July 22, 2001

Every culture and every business has its share of predators, and they come in various forms.  The California Association of REALTORS® and the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® has adopted a zero tolerance for those who use real estate licenses to sell real estate and/or make loans as they prey on innocent people.

 

The definition of a predator is one who eats its prey while still alive.  While it is not a pretty picture, it does characterize the moves and the results of a predator who victimizes a borrower. Many of us believe this is a million dollar problem in Ventura County.

Picture the lender/agent who tells a potential buyer that he or she will help them find a home but needs $5000 advance payment to do so. In some cultures, an upfront fee is a common practice.

The agent finds the home, writes the offer at full price and asks that the seller credit the buyer with $5000 towards closing costs.  At the end, the buyer asks about the $5000 and the agent shows the credit of $5000 on the closing statement that came from the seller.  The agent keeps the $5000 in her pocket.

The predator’s response is,  “they’ll never know”, and it is true. They haven’t known until the sharp eye of a REALTOR® examines a closing statement.

Recently, two such REALTORS® spotted a closing statement which reflected the costs of a refinanced home loan.  The loan agent, who also holds a real estate license, knocked on their door one day and asked if they wanted to lower their monthly payment. Their existing loan was at 7%.  They ended up with a 7.75% variable loan, with a cap of 16% and were charged $10,000 in loan fees, let alone $3000 in closing costs.  The loan they had before the refinance was the better one and their credit score was 680 thus qualifying them for a more favorable interest rate.

They trusted the person who spoke their language.  They didn’t read the paperwork because it was in a language they don’t understand.

Thanks to the District Attorneys office and a sharp investigator assigned to this problem, the concern of the investigative editorial team at the Ventura STAR and the Ventura County Coastal Association of  REALTORS® Cultural Diversity Committee, something is being done to stop this abuse and hold the predators accountable for the illegal and immoral practices.

Here are some things to look for. If someone teases you with a loan or an idea that sounds too easy or too good, there is probably something wrong with it.  Don’t do anything until someone you trust looks over your paper work.  Don’t give any information to a stranger until you are sure they are legitimate.  If you need a refinance or a loan, ask someone you trust to recommend someone to you. If you don’t know anyone to provide a recommendation, call Randy McCaslin at the Ventura County Coastal Association of  REALTORS® 981.2100.  If bi-lingual assistance is needed call 981.2100 and leave a message for Fernie Campos, chair of our Cultural Diversity Committee. Someone who speaks your language will call you back.

If the agent you speak to is not a REALTOR®, they cannot be held accountable by us as their peers.  We have no tolerance for predators. They need to be put out of business and any help you can provide to us with move the process forward.

Kay Wilson-Bolton has been on the forefront of monitoring and reporting predatory lending practices. She has been in real estate in Ventura County since 1976.

The REALTOR – THERE REALLY IS A DIFFERENCE

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

March 1, 2001

Buying a home can be an exciting and wonderful experience for the whole family. It can

also be a very stressful one.  There aren’t many people who can work through the process without the help of a professional.

Real estate activity requires the efforts of many people:  lenders, termite companies,

escrow and title companies, home inspectors, home protection plans, repair people,

utility companies, appraisers, homeowners associations, park managers, and many more.

In the real estate industry there are two types of real estate people who can help you.

One type is a person who is licensed by the Department of the Real Estate.

The other type is a real estate agent who is not only licensed but is also a member of the

Association of REALTORS® where they received specialized training, have access to

legal advice and agree to abide by a Code of Ethics.

The Code of Ethics makes very important statements about how REALTORS® will treat

clients and respond to problems.

Another important part of working with a REALTOR® is that if a buyer or a seller has a

problem, they can complain to the Association where the REALTOR® can be disciplined

and held accountable for their actions by their peers.

If you have a complaint against an agent who is not a REALTOR®, you have to hire an

attorney or file the complaint with the State of California’s Department of Real Estate or

the District Attorney’s office.

Be sure to ask the agent you meet if he or she is a member of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®.  Dealing with a REALTOR® is your best insurance if something goes wrong. When choosing someone to help you buy or sell your home, use a REALTOR® first. There really is a difference.

 

Kay Wilson-Bolton has been in full-time real estate since 1976 and brings a local perspective to regional issues.

 

 

THE REALITY IS THAT THERE IS A REAL DIFFERENCE.

Realtor Outlook by

Kay Wilson-Bolton

 

January 7, 2001

THE REALITY IS THAT THERE IS A REAL DIFFERENCE.

For 52 weeks, this column has dealt with the value of dealing with real estate agents who choose to subscribe to the Code of Ethics—called REALTORS®.

Not one of us who subscribes to those ethics would ever promise a trouble-free, perfect sale or purchase.  What we do promise is that we are willing to be held accountable for our behavior in that endeavor.

The benefit to the public is that our willingness to be held accountable provides the forum for a grievance to be heard.  That forum is a review board of our peers who know the ropes, the rules and believe in enforcing them.

If you work with a licensed agent who is not a REALTOR, your only remedy is with the courts, the Department of Real Estate or the District Attorney.

We cannot police those who don’t belong to us, as we have no jurisdiction over them. They know that, and you need to know that before you choose your real estate professional

If you have ever had a good experience with a REALTOR®, which means you had fair and honest service, stick with them. Tell someone else about them so they can prosper.

If you see a sign or an ad that interests you, call your own REALTOR® to research it. Let your REALTOR® call on the ads that interest you so that you are not confused into thinking you have to deal with the one who answers the phone.

All we have to offer is our time and our experience. We want you to use us

Real estate practitioners are not the same. None of us is perfect; most of us want to be. You won’t know about those who don’t until it is too late.

For those of us who do care, you will get good service in the end for we will make a problem right.

For those who don’t care, you have few places to look to correct bad or unethical behavior.

Our recommendation is that you choose  a REALTOR® who has membership in the local association and has pledged to uphold the Code of Ethics.

You can verify their status by calling the Ventura County Coastal Association of  REALTORS® at 981.2100; ask for Randy McCaslin, Kristine Castillo or Barbara Amick.  The REALTOR® commitment is that we will defend the Code of Ethics.

In the end, honor is all that any of us has to defend. To think about it, honor does not have to be defended at all for it speaks for itself.

Bottom line–there is a difference between one who has a license and one who is a REALTOR®.

Elaine Pettersen is our new president for 2001 and she will deliver the next column. She is very savvy and highly honorable. She has years of experience and intolerant of the bad behavior among us. She will take all of us to the next level of everything.

 

Kay Wilson-Bolton served as president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® for 2000. For more information contact Randy McCaslin, Association Executive, at 805.981-2100.  The website is http://www.vc-realtors.com