Balance Customs with Courtesies in Real Estate Practices 

Kay Wilson-Bolton

February 15, 2018

It is no secret that just about everything we do takes place quickly — or it is designed to.

One outstanding example is found in how we get real estate documents signed. Some years ago, electronic signing made its debut. No longer did we need to meet face to face. What we sacrificed was the personal connection and the ability to explain documents clients are asked to sign. This is particularly true of seller’s disclosures. There are many reasons why an agent should sit with their client, if possible, and help them complete these documents.  If the client is a distance away, even a phone call would be helpful.

While the question on a disclosure generally is, “Are you aware?”, many clients are quick to simply answer “no.”  But, when it comes to the question of neighborhood noises and nuisance, it is helpful to think through possible scenarios. Does the neighborhood have a teenage in a band that practices loudly four days a week after school? Are there barking dogs? Do neighbors rent out rooms in their house generating numerous cars on the street in front of the client’s house? Is the fence on their property line, or on the neighbor’s. Is there a recorded easement to use a driveway or was it a casual agreement?

There is now a trick question on our standards forms and that is “are there any plumbing fixtures which are non-compliant with regard to updated efficiency guidelines?”  That answer is more often than not a “yes”. And, it’s really easy to miss a particular signature at the very top of page 3.

Talking it out gets a better disclosure and that produces a better future for everyone.

The real change began when the fax machine allowed us to transmit documents across town without getting in our cars. It was back then when Realtors ceased meeting as the clients’ house to present offers and discuss the merits and details. The real advocacy of real estate sales died a sudden death.

As we move even closer to wordless communication with email and texting, the challenges magnify because many of us have given up land lines and rely on cell phones. Many of us keep our phones on 24/7 for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it remains the only point of contact in an emergency.

That needs to be remembered when a sudden thought occurs in the middle of the night and we want to hurl a message into space, thinking it will arrive in the morning. We know it lands in an instant and should remember it will awaken the recipient.

Exceptional courtesy is to keep texting and emails to the hours of “Do Not Call” — not before 8 am and not after 9 pm. Getting a text about a termite report at 2 am is not helpful. If you aren’t really awake, it is tempting to text back, “Thank you” and of course as you doze off, comes another one stating, “You are welcome.”

Common courtesy should be to limit bad news to daytime so the processing factors are more manageable. What prompted this column of hearing from a client that their agent in another city sent a text at 10:15 pm to report their seller had accepted another offer.

I encouraged the client to tell their agent to save news like that til morning. She admitted that there was little sleep that night. Further frustrating was their inability to do anything to combat their situation.

The days of a kinder and gentler business environment can be reinstated but we have to work at it using the new rules of communication. This is true of our world in general. Our best roles in life are to be patient, helpful, accommodating, encouraging and forgiving. I’m going to start on that again tomorrow and send a text to myself right now to remind me! 

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a broker associate with Century 21 Troop and has been serving Ventura County homeowners since 1976.  She can be reached at 805.3340.5025. Her blog is http://www.KayWilsonBoltonblog.com

 

 

Don’t trust “them” to help you. Real Estate Fraud is Real and On the Rise.

February 14, 2018  By Kay Wilson-Bolton

These are the facts in a real and current tragedy. The owners were three months behind on the payment of their second mortgage to an off-brand mortgage company. They were current on their first mortgage with a known reputable conventional lender.

They received a call from “Charles” who told them he could modify their first and second mortgages bringing their payments below what they are currently paying. He explained over the phone how it would work and made them sound like his new friends.

All they had to do is wire him $10,000 up front, send him the monthly payments for the first and second, and he could take care of everything. He gave them the name of his company, the address and made friends.

The family borrowed $10,000 from a family member, wired the money, and never heard from Charles again.

The first lender foreclosed on them in December. The family is working with that bank to restore ownership of the house back to them. They have a family member willing to refinance her home and provide the money to do just that.

This dramatic event happens to almost everyone who gets a notice of default on any loan. The sharks circle and find way to attack people when they are most vulnerable.

In another case, a woman was foreclosed on and immediately contacted by a “helper” name Raymond. He told her lender had unlawfully filed the foreclosure and with the filing of certain documents, he could get the foreclosure reversed.

Claudia asked me to help her. I asked for the name and contact information of the person who called her. He was good.  He quoted all kinds of citations, case law, and federal law stating he would send copies for review. He would include a list of people he had helped and many references. I told Claudia to be very cautious… remember, he was very good.

She sent him the $2,000 and she never heard from him again.

There are laws against this and the District Attorney of Ventura County has a special fraud investigation unit tracking these crooks and thieves with the intent of bringing them to prosecution.

They partner with a handful of real estate professionals in this fight against real estate fraud, known as the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team. Their mission is to prevent, detect and report fraudulent activities which rob people of their wealth and their peace of mind.

We ask everyone be wary of help that finds you quickly and wants an upfront fee. When those two events occur simultaneously, it is likely fraudulent. Please consult with a professional or someone you already trust to see if it smells like the real deal. You can also call the Real Estate Fraud Helpline 805.751.5899, for help in Spanish or English. Your call will be routed to the on-call professional and returned within 24 hours.

If you have a current complaint, you can go to the website for the Ventura County District Attorney and find “real estate fraud” under services. There is a complaint form which can be completed on line and sent directly to the DA’s office.

Don’t be easy targets or prey to people who want to steal your money. There is real help to be found in the right places and the right people. Visit www.refat.org where you will find a Complaint Form; call the Helpline 805.751.5899; or visit the website for the District Attorney. www.vcdistrictattorney.com.  Click on “Services and Information” and then to “Special Prosecutions” where you will find “Real Estate Fraud.”

Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team directors are: Armando Jaquez, OnQ Financial; Brooke Smith, Keller Williams; Carlo H-Banki, Department of Real Estate, Charlene Williams, Chicago Title; Cindy Diaz-Telly, Coldwell Banker; David Valenzuela from the DA’s office; Fernando Campos, Coldwell Banker; Jeromy Bagott, Bender and Rosenthal Law Firm; Jim Keith, Berkshire Hathaway; Jorge DeLeon, Coldwell Banker; Justin Alvarez, attorney from the Alvarez Firm.com. Kay Wilson-Bolton, Century 21 Troop Real Estate; Millie Gordon, Dilbeck Estate; Brooke Smith, Keller Williams; Monica Garcia, Select Properties; Tony Wold from the District Attorney’s Office; Monica Cruz representing National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

 

 

VA Buyers Unfairly Lose Traction in the Marketplace

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

January 15, 2018

At the heart of every real estate transaction is a good appraisal no matter what type of financing is used to purchase the home.

In general, all homes must have Minimum Property Requirements which include a sound roof with generally five years of life left. The heating system has to be functioning without asbestos floating in the air.  Plumbing and electrical system have to be in good working order, there has to be a kitchen and bathroom, reliable sewage system, hot water heater, safe and potable drinking water.

Homes on raised foundations have to have a stable foundation and adequate crawl space for ventilation. Homes have to have private driveways or permanent and reliable access to the property from the street.  The property has to be free of any conditions which could negatively affect the health and safety of the occupants.

The home has to be free of poor or defective construction or degradation. For example, fireplaces should have dampers that work and spark arresters. House should be free of termite conditions, dryrot or fungus. Homes built before 1978 could have lead-based paint and no home can have peeling or deteriorating paint.

Sounds like normal and routine expectations, right?

Few people are willing to buy a home with these adverse conditions unless they are paying cash and receiving a price concession.

Appraisers are required to identify deficiencies and note them for the sake of the lender and the buyer who then has the right to ask the seller for corrections or walk away from the property. When termite corrective work is identified, buyers and sellers can sometimes agree on how to remedy the work by deleting it from the transaction or negotiating the cost of repairs prior to close of escrow.

With only one exception, VA loans are no different.  The house has to be made free and clear of any termite infestation, dryrot or fungus.

The marketplace has the wrong idea about VA loans and as a result, the offers from many Veterans are excluded from consideration.

John and his wife just made their eighth offer since April of 2017. They have seen themselves living in eight different homes and have made offers on all of them. They are VA buyers with a significant down payment getting started in the home buying process after the kids have left home. They have excellent credit and want to be homeowners while they are still working.

While VA will not let the VA buyer pay for a termite report, the buyer can pay for work to be done prior to close of escrow.  A free and clear report is required in all VA transactions prior to closing. Thanks to wise homeowners who obtain termite reports before the home goes on the market, all buyers can know what they are facing early in the process.

VA loans were designed to help Veterans buy homes. They can purchase a home with nothing down in a loan amount up to $672,750 in Ventura County. Sadly, when the market heats up, the age-old fears and impressions about VA loans squeeze VA buyers out of the market as sellers opt for buyers using “conventional financing.”

Some of those fears are lengthy escrows, intense government restrictions and influences. In my recent experiences, appraisals are completed in 10 days; and smart loan officers can get a VA loan through in 35 to 45 days.

Sellers will often exclude FHA loans from consideration for fear of the need to make unplanned repairs to the home. If a home is substandard in any way, the items will be identified as negative issues and repairs will be required prior to close of escrow no matter what time of loan is utilized.

Sadly, loans which are not VA and FHA are called “conventional” and any loan that is not “conventional” is considered “unconventional”. It, therefore, sets up a seller to wrong thinking.

I encourage sellers to research the VA loan of today and give thought to considering an offer from a buyer who has served this Country in the military. It’s good for nation and it’s the right thing to do for Veterans.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a Certified Military Relocation Professional and has been serving Ventura county homeowners since 1976. She is a broker associate with Century 21 Troop Real Estate and can be reached at 805.340.5025 or kay@realestatemagic.com