Ranch Sales are Not For Everyone

August 1, 2004



BY Kay Wilson-Bolton

The placement of SOAR initiatives into our governing processes will continue to be debated, but for now, that same long view has agriculture and farming in place for a long time to come.

Sales activity seems to SOAR, literally, when a production ranch comes available. The typical buyer is motivated by investment opportunities and lifestyle changes, although many buyers are viewing the long view as a reasonable

The real estate practitioner is going the way of many professionals in the areas of developing specialties. Looking at the long view for the business, the REALTORÒ has a way of touching the public that the Internet and its many desirable attributes cannot.

An interesting niche is the sale of ranches and farmland. This important specialty serves a unique need in the lives of Ventura County property owners.  Historically, ranch and land sales have been handled by a handful of respected individuals.  It is clearly a uniquely different element of real estate sales and activity. Fortunately, there are a few of the younger crowd joining the ranks, mentored by the old and wiser ones.

The County Board of Supervisors widely adopted provisions for the Ventura County Ordinance Code. Buyers might sign a disclosure with respect to the proximity of farmland near their intended purchase.

My company has long required this disclosure, but with housing developments beginning to share the same air as trees and crops, it has become a necessary and wise part of life for the sale of every kind of property in proximity to ranches or farmable land.





The sale of residential properties has its own unique issues such as termite reports, home inspections, Covenants Conditions and Restrictions, and lending and appraisal requirements. Likewise the sale of ranch and land addresses different issues.

One of the most unusual components is the Certificate of Compliance and Legal Lot Determination issued by the County of Ventura. It is now our practice to initiate such requests in the initial stages of marketing a ranch or land.

To not do so creates an opportunity for buyers to discover only after the close of escrow that they are unable to pull a building permit because the lot was created illegally.

Another area for potential problems and irritations are unlicensed mobile homes sitting on ranches.  Unraveling this paperwork can take time and easily delay a closing.

The more common discovery elements in a ranch and land sale include water analysis for potability and availability, well recovery testing, leaf analysis, production records and packouts, septic tank and leach line inspections, water share transfers and encroachments.

A particularly challenging issue is that of access to parcels, which are remote or have been under the same ownership for a long time.

While real estate is considered to be that one commodity which is “under everything” and it can be sold by anyone licensed by the appropriate State agency, it is always in the client’s best interest to engage someone with special expertise and understanding of a valuable and unique resource.


Kay Wilson-Bolton has been in full-time real estate since 1976 with CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and CENTURY 21 Ojai Valley. She can be reached at 805.340.5025.


The impact of inventory.

REALTOR® Outlook

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

May 15, 2004

The winds of change seem evident in Ventura County with the increasing inventory, a good sign for those who want to get into home ownership. The stress of it all  is taking its toll on the real estate community and on those who want to buy or sell their home.

Disappointment and frustration are being felt by those who are bidding over asking prices, only to worry about appraisal and qualifying issues, and by those who continue to be on the losing end of making an offer.

Buyers are scouring newspapers for “first run” ads and calling the listing agent, often bypassing their own agent who has been diligently working for them.  It is all too common that new listings are “office exclusives”, and buyers are not able to use their own agent because the listing agent has either taken the listing at a very reduced fee, or due to lack of sales activity, is looking to cover two house payments instead of one and doesn’t want to share the fee with another agent.

An example, all too familiar, is a recent one where heirs decided to sell the home in which their parents had lived before they died.  They contacted three agents; selected one to list it, and raised the price by $10,000 from the initial conversation three weeks prior.

One of the competing agents had already written an offer $5,000 over the initial asking price, with 100% financing, and the listing agent wrote an offer at the revised asking price for a highly qualified investor with more than 20% down payment who would have provided a rental opportunity for someone.

The sellers felt that they owed it to the estate to test the Multiple Listing Service before accepting even the full price offer.

The day the listing appeared in MLS, there were three calls from agents to show the property, one of whom had already written an offer.  This buyer lives in the same town, works for a county agency and is well qualified for the purchase. They are renting and would love to have this as their first home.  Their offer is well over the asking price.

As of this writing, there are three written offers, five showings scheduled, and the “first run” ad will be in Sunday’s paper.

“It isn’t fair,” one agent said. “My clients can’t afford to pay more, and we can’t seem to get there first. They will be sick if they don’t get this house.”

He’s right you know; it isn’t fair. How more unfair will it get before this frenzy normalizes itself? Rising interest rates will provide some correction, but what seller wants to be the first to take less than their neighbor.

How will we balance the fear of paving the hillsides and lowlands with not owning a home in our town of choice?

To whom does a city owe home ownership and to how many?  How much longer can buyers pay rising prices?  What does the future hold for SOAR supporters and opponents who will have to grapple with how many homes are enough?

Tough leadership will be required. Not many of us will be up to it, and fewer of us will want to. Ventura County is under siege with rising home prices, and it is going to get worse before it gets better. No one knows when they will be curbed. None of us thought they would go this high.

The real estate community is bursting at the seams with new agents adding new competition to the fray. New styles of marketing and strategies are appearing that may not be in everyone’s best interest.

Lenders and appraisers are being taxed to the max to help buyers get loans. Some of these strategies may have short term benefits, but hidden, long term traps.

I do recall kindly the good old days. Gee. Was 1976 really that long ago?


Moving through the Holidays

REALTOR® Outlook

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

November 21, 2004

A common reaction of homeowners who are thinking of making a move is to wait until “after the holidays”.

Let me encourage those of you who would like to sell sooner than later to take advantage of this festive season!

Nearly everyone agrees that when a home looks its best, it generally sells faster and brings a premium price.

Assuming the carpets are clean and leaky faucets are fixed, there is hardly a more appealing, customer-friendly home than one that has been dressed for the holidays with lights, candles, ribbons and pleasant aromas coming from the kitchen.

Most of the real estate community will admit that sales activity has slowed since the heat of the summer market. Homeowners are having to adjust to the “way things were” and realize that the peak for 2004 has passed.

In general, this is good for Ventura County, for an upward spiral can fall just as fast and the days of the early 90’s are still fresh in the memories of some of us.

“Steady as she goes” is the best kind of real estate market and waiting till January will find homeowners in good company, but in large numbers. The more homes for sale, the keener the competition.

If a job transfer or right-sizing is in your near future, consider engaging the services of a REALTOR® who believes in the Multiple Listing Service and start getting your home into holiday shape.

Your REALTOR® will want to highlight your home for the weekly REALTOR® tour and for weekend open houses, if you are up to it.

The public will appreciate a pleasant, holiday-decorated home. Most of us have warm memories of our own homes as children when life was simpler and, of course, so were we.

Your REALTOR® community thanks you for your business in 2004. We are here to serve.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and CENTURY 21 Ojai Valley. She can be reached at 340.5025.

It’s not over til it’s over – those time frames


BY Kay Wilson-Bolton

December 18, 2004

A common situation members of REALTOR® grievance panels deal with is that buyers and sellers state did not understand the contract when they signed it.

Attorneys who specialize in real estate matters will confirm this.

One of the contract items that bites the hardest is the time frame within which the counteroffer language. It is the states very clearly that until such time as the offer and counters are signed by both buyer and seller, the house is available for sale to another buyer.

It is common, particularly in smaller towns and with close relationships between REALTORS®, for conversations to go back and forth conveying counteroffer points, without obtaining signatures. In most cases, this convenience can work, but it is a dangerous practice.

Picture the agents clarifying counteroffer points over personal property. The agreed upon price was slightly less than the asking price. It is 9 pm and the agent representing the buyer decides to wait until morning to call his client and wrap up the sale.

In the meantime, the agent for the seller receives a call from a new agent with information that he has an offer on the property ands asks if the property is sold.  The only right answer is “no.”  For the agent to state that it is sold misrepresents the situation as he required by law to preset all offers to the seller up until the close of escrow.

This is even more important if the new offer is better than the first one. Some would argue that there was a verbal agreement. Clearly the seller could honor their word if they chose to do so and go with the first offer, but the paperwork states that the property is for sale until the document is signed by all parties.

The best way to avoid these troubling circumstances is to act proficiently and with dispatch. Get the document signed. Fax copies are as acceptable as an original.

The other solution is if you don’t understand your contract, you are not required to sign it.  You are expected, however, to read your document before you do sign it.

The safest route is to choose a REALTOR® with integrity and one who will act in your best interest. Time has always been of the essence. You do have choices and make sure you choose a REALTOR®. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS® and there is a difference!

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Ojai Valley and CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and brings a regional perspective to local issues. She can be reached at 805.340.5025.