Unique, Up Close and Personal

Date:               February 12, 1998

Published in the Ventura County Star – Thank you Myrtle


There is hardly a business like real estate. The nuances and subtleties are complex and profound.  Realtors are rather independent people who operate their own businesses within the business of the broker, or completely on their own if they are one. For members of the public who have not purchased or sold a property for a few years, the shock of new paperwork and legal requirements for a valid real estate transaction is real.

Realtors and real estate agents are constantly reminded of their duties to clients and customers. One of the greatest challenges is to stay current with changing requirements of the California Civil Code and the Business and Professions Code.

Fortunately, the business is still very up close and personal with clients and other Realtors. We are usually the first line of defense when problems arise during and after the close of escrow.  We are also sometimes the last to know when there is a problem.

One of the most unique features of a Realtors business is to share their inventory with competitors through the Multiple Listing Service.  While websites, high performance computer programs and flash forms come and go, the constant factor is the personal relationships between clients and Realtors and their competitors.

The line is usually drawn, however, when it comes to Realtors having to share clients.  This element of our business can be most hurtful and distressing. It is often unintentional. It occurs when buyers engage the services of more than one Realtor at a time.

New relationships can begin with a simple phone call.  Realtors shine here because the caller is considered to be a new client and the red carpet is rolled out. Typically, appointments are made to show property; time, gasoline and materials are provided, conferences with lenders are held, and educational information is shared—all at no charge.

Sharing clients occur when the public decides to make another phone call in response to an ad—to a different Realtor.  No mention is made of previous activity in the market or the efforts made by their previous Realtor.  The new Realtor benefits from the efforts of the other—an unfair advantage often innocently provided by the public.

Once the situation is revealed, the results are distressing for all parties.  To this point in time, neither Realtor has been compensated for their time and talents. It is not uncommon for a client to feel embarrassed or irritated and to move to a third agent.

Most Realtors will admit that our way of doing business needs to be overhauled. We also will admit that not all relationships are productive and that a client may simply choose one Realtor over another.

One solution and trend is to utilize a buyer’s broker agreement.  It is a contract between buyers and Realtors and guarantees compensation for time, talent and materials.  An interesting benefit is that Realtors might have to limit the number of clients due to requirements under the contract and that the public might receive enhanced services.

Another solution would be for Realtors to be retained by clients at an hourly rate, as are other professionals.  This would solve the problem of client loyalty and would level the playing field for all Realtors.

Until such a time, the public can make a nice difference if they would utilize the services of one Realtor at a time.  A few helpful hints are to let your Realtor of Choice obtain information on any property where you see a sign. If you are visiting an open house, let the host Realtor know that you are working with another.  Let your Realtor call around for information on properties you see rather than taking the time of Realtors you do not intend to engage.

All a Realtor has to offer is time and talent. We are used to being compensated when everyone wins.  We simply ask that you find a winner and stick with him or her until you do too.

Editorial: January 23, 2018. Editor’s Note – Nothing has changed.


The Paperless Transaction and Electronic Signing

The Paperless Transaction is Here to Stay
By Kay Wilson-Bolton
December 14, 2014

The real estate industry, among others, has embraced electronic signing and paperless transactions. While it may be a cost saver for some, clients and some Realtors feel the price is high.

The data base for real estate documents has just been updated with hundreds of changes and responsible REALTORS have spent many classroom hours preparing for implementation. Electronic signing is now generally accepted in the industry and makes for efficiency in processing but not always in understanding.

It is designed for on-screen reading and signing. No one should ever sign any document until they understand it, but it is possible that in this environment many people sign because they trust the person asking them to sign. On-screen reading is very different from holding a piece of paper in your hand and reading for understanding.

Most transactions are now completed via email. In a recent transaction, a busy doctor was purchasing a bank-owned property and was receiving documents from the escrow company, the home inspector, termite company, mold inspector, contractor, lender, HOA management company and their REALTOR®. It became overwhelming to him. It was made worse when he was informed by the lender a Notary would be at his office at noon the following day for signing of the loan documents. Because he is not always reading email, the Notary’s arrival was a surprise.

Sadly, the documents did not reflect the terms of the purchase agreement or escrow instructions. The Notary patiently waited while explanations were sought from the lender. He was admonished by the lender who stated the changes were emailed and he should have read them. This is not a client who spends his day on the computer, and this information was not received in a timely manner nor was the admonition received well.

In another case, computer savvy first-time homebuyers were given their loan documents the day they were asked to sign. They read almost everything and discovered two significant errors. They were assured they could sign them anyway and the errors would be corrected. They had asked their lender to send a copy of the documents ahead of time but did not receive them. As a result, the documents had to be redrawn, there was a three-day rescission period and the escrow was delayed more than a week. This makes for a stressful ending for what should always be a happy experience.

I hope the industries embracing this new technology will balance the benefits and adjust for those who do better dealing with humans. REALTORS® still hold the keys to the home and even that takes hand-holding.

Kay Wilson-Bolton
Real Estate Broker in Ventura County Since 1976

Realtor Jargon. April 9, 2000.

By Kay Wilson-Bolton
President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®
April 9, 2000
Published in the Ventura County Star.

Every business has its language—and REALTORS® are no exception. We say FHA and CMA. We say CRV and HOT sheet. We say caravan, MLS, virtual tour, Section I and Section II, along with Home Warranty, pending and walkthrough. We say appraisal, market analysis, opinion of value and BPO.

Another word that has an oblique meaning is “listing”. REALTORS® love to say, “Let me list your property.” What does that mean when it comes to the rights and the obligations of the REALTOR® and the homeowner?

It is important to understand that when you “list’ your property, you have employed a licensed person to sell it. The agent is to secure a buyer in exchange for a fee. The obligations of the owner are to provide useful information, cooperate with showings, disclosing the names of interested parties and paying the marketing fee when the property closes escrow.

The seller’s rights under the agreement include the to have the following: (1) The real estate company’s best marketing efforts to locate a buyer, (2) loyalty to the seller’s best interests and, (3) thorough follow-up on all paper work related the closing the transaction. A seller’s most important right is to have an effective marketing effort on your behalf. Determine your REALTOR’S® ability to deliver that effort before you sign a listing agreement. Ask for a history of past successes and a detailed explanation of the marketing strategy, which will be implemented to sell your home. You are also entitled to ask about the amount of attention your real estate agent will provide to you.

Feel free to look beyond the newspaper ad and the open house. Selecting a REALTOR® enhances your chances of the best service. Good service can sometimes be a matter of style. It can also be a matter of money for you.

In your search for a home, consider contacting a REALTOR® first. Not every real estate agent can use that name and there is a difference. REALTORS® have subscribed to the National Code of Ethics that are clear and commanding and provide a baseline for performance.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® . For more information, contact Bob Seitz, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

Limit the Input. March 19, 2000

March 19, 2000
By Kay Wilson-Bolton
President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

If you have ever heard the expression that “a camel is a horse created by committee”, you can relate at least a little to the action that is taken as a result of a group decision which produces an outcome far different than what was originally intended.

If you plan to purchase a home soon, please keep that expression in mind. Home buying is a sometimes complex process based on many variables, i.e. price, location, amenities, school district, age, etc. It requires the buyers to focus on those variables while sorting through their priorities, finally arriving at a firm decision to purchase.

Occasionally, other family members get involved. It could be just mom and dad, but once in a while, the aunts and uncles, gown children, and even acquaintances, want to help out to make the final decision.

REALTORS® have seen this “committee” approach and involvement cause anything from mild confusion to total chaos. While all mean well, the primary future residents may be distraction from their initial objectives, leaving them “decision less.”

It is also common for one of the helpers to live a distance away and have a real estate license! A good rule of thumb is to limit the decision-making process to only those who are directly involved in the buying process.

If mom and dad or aunt and uncle are supplying any of the capital, they are entitled to participate and should for it is their investment also.

The Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® is continually working on preparing our REALTORS® to be good stewards of your time and confidence. This year’s chair of the Public Relations Committee is Wayne King. You will be hearing more of his committee’s effort to help our clients understand the scope of a REALTOR®’S® work.

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR® . There is a difference and you can benefit. For more information, contact Bob Seitz, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

A Matter of Style March 12, 2000

MARCH 12, 2000
By Kay Wilson-Bolton
President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®
Published in the Ventura County Star

The REALTOR® professional who represents you in your buying or selling effort does a lot of work behind the scenes. At the presentation portion of the process, home sellers have the opportunity of hearing what the REALTOR® will do to cause the home to be sold. These efforts are the result of a strategic marketing plan that, over time, has produced proven results.

Most REALTORS® focus on three to five major events that will put your home in the most favorable light. Often times the events are related and have residual effects. It is understandable that a homeowner might think that the rest of the time seems like endless waiting.

This is not so for your REALTOR® professional. From beginning to end, your REALTOR® is working for you. A significant amount of research is conducted prior to your first meeting. This includes tax records, market data, special zones, and analysis of the group to be targeted for your home. Other REALTORS® are contacted, advertising is planned, and the marketing strategy you agreed to is implemented.

Once negotiations are completed, the rest of race the begins with the coordinating of inspections, appraisal, escrow and title efforts, gathering the appropriate disclosures, working with the lender, the appraiser, and the other REALTOR® should it be a cooperative sale. This period of time can also seem endless, but every day requires an activity, which brings everyone closer to the goal of moving day.

Every REALTOR® has his or her own style of doing business. It is always recommended that you interview more than one or rely on the recommendation of someone you trust.

The Professional Development Committee of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®, chaired by Don Thibeault, is continually adding courses and programs to our curriculum in order that the REALTORS® who serve you under that banner are the wisest and best trained REALTORS® you can find.

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR® . There is a difference and you can benefit. For more information, contact Bob Seitz, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com

Hoarder Homes – Identify, Assist and Professional Handling

When It Looks Like No One is Home…If a home in your neighborhood looks like no one is home for an extended period of time, do humanity a favor and knock on the door. It is possible someone is behind those closed doors living with unhealthy fears and behaviors.

In more cases that you would think, people are living and dying alone, surrounded by untold collections. Popular television programs have taken the lid off the topic of hoarding but not the mystery. All compulsive behaviors have causes and unpleasant side effects.

In almost a dozen recent properties that have been referred to me for sale, they were occupied by hoarders whose lives were driven by the passion of surrounding themselves with perceived comfort in the form of “things”. Unfortunately this can include pets.

There are five classifications of hoarders according to the National Study on Chronic Disorganization. The specific areas deal with Structure and Zoning, Pets and Rodents, Household Functions, Sanitation and Cleanliness

Hoarding can include excessive attachment to possessions, extreme clutter throughout the home’s living spaces, inability to discard items and the stacking of magazines, newspapers and junk. Hoarders will move items or trash from one pile to another, without ever discarding anything. They will acquire seemingly useless items, including trash. They have organizational difficulty or perfectionism, exhibit difficulty permitting others to touch or move accumulated items;  put off doing what they know needs to be done; have difficulty making decision and managing daily tasks, and have limited or poor socialization skills. 

Based on the level of hoarding identified, it may be best to contact the County’s Mental Health Department or in some cases the local police for a “well-being check”. If extreme Level 5 has been reached, it is recommended that clean-up be left to professionals who have the proper safety equipment and anti-bacterial chemicals and licenses.

You can help prevent this sad outcome in your neighborhood by watching for the lonely looking home where lack of yard care is evident; where few visitors are noticed except for regular deliveries from United Parcel of Fed-Ex, trash buildup and general lack of activity.

 When the residents of these homes have passed away or moved to safer living situations, a REALTOR® with experience in clearing and cleaning such a home should be called in to assist in rehabilitating the property for resale and utilize appropriate marketing strategies and disclosures.