Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 48

Can property sellers cut agent's commission for poor service?

DEAR Patti: Can we fire our real estate agent? We (and four others) are in the process of selling our property to a commercial buyer. Our agent never shows up for meetings and is so out of the loop. He calls us to see what is going on with the sale. We don't think he deserves the 6 percent sales commission because his involvement ceased after finding the buyer. We want to fire him, or at the very least, cut his commission. Can we do that? --Harrison Y.

DEAR HARRISION: No. If your real estate agent has a valid exclusive right to sell, exclusive agency or open listing and he or she is the "procuring cause" of the sale, or found a "ready, willing and able" buyer, but you owners took control after that, the agent is still entitled to the agreed 6 percent sales commission.

When the sale closes, if you refuse to pay the full sales commission, the listing agent can sue for any unpaid commission. Just because the agent doesn't attend meetings of the sellers is no reason to deny a sales commission for producing an acceptable buyer. For more details, please consult my local real estate attorney Ernest FOX. Call me for phone nunmber.

Can neighbor cash in on real estate sales commission?

by Patti Lyles

Can neighbor cash in on real estate sales commission?

DEAR Patti: Our elderly neighbors were selling their home. It was listed for sale with a local agent. My husband and I told some friends about they house. They wanted to inspect it immediately. I coordinated with our elderly neighbors for a walk-through inspection and then put them in touch with the listing agent. The sale went through without the agent ever having to show the house. Aren't we entitled to part of the sales commission? – Robin L.

DEAR BOB: Legally, no. Morally, maybe. Unless you are a licensed real estate agent who represented the home buyers, you are not legally entitled to receive part of the sales commission.

However, in many states the listing agent could pay you a "finder's fee" for referring the buyers. I hasten to add finder's fees are not legal in all states.

Finder's fees are whatever the parties agree upon. Certainly, you are not entitled to half of the sales commission. But a sharp listing agent, if finder's fees are legal in your state, should offer to pay you $1,000 or so, depending on the gross commission she received. At the very least, the listing agent should have given you a lavish thank-you gift.

Did your home "Decline in Value"? SAVE money

by Patti Lyles

California Proposition 8

In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that allows a temporary reduction in assessed value when a property suffers a "decline-in-value."

A decline-in-value occurs when the current market value of your property is less than the current assessed value as of January 1. If you disagree with the assessed value of your property, you should contact the Assessor's Office to request a review of the value.

If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may then file an appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board.

Santa Cruz County's home price STATS

by Patti Lyles
Median up $757,000 in June


SANTA CRUZ — Despite a real estate slowdown nationwide and the growing numbers of county homeowners missing their mortgage payments, one segment of the Santa Cruz housing market is buoyant: high-end homes.
Six homes in Santa Cruz County sold for more than $2 million in June, matching the number of $2 million-plus sales in April.

View a map of the six homes sold for more than $2 million in June.

Case in point: a 4,250-square-foot home with an ocean view and a wine cellar in the gated community of Monte Fiore in Scotts Valley sold for the listed price: $2.25 million. "There were three interested parties and it was more of a race," said Mark Oliverez, a real estate agent with Alain Pinel who represented the seller and the buyer.

In fact, of the 164 sales in June, 40 were for $1 million or more, a higher percentage than in May. The high-end market phenomenon gained attention last week in The New York Times, which reported that sales of homes priced at more than $1 million are up in Boston, New York and Miami.

In Santa Cruz County, affluent buyers are willing to pay higher prices for ocean-view homes.

June statistics

Single family homes
Sales: 164
Listings: 1,292
Unsold inventory index: 7.9 months
Median price: $757,000

Sales: 32
Listings: 289
Unsold inventory index: 9 months
Median price: $560,000

Source: Real Options Realty

The increasing number of high-end sales in Santa Cruz County is keeping the median home price high, at $757,000 in June, a barely perceptible dip from $760,000 in May. But the number of overall sales is down in comparison to the red-hot market of three years ago, when more than 250 homes sold in June. This year's June sales, 164, are the fewest since 2001, according to Gary Gangnes of Real Options Realty, who compiled the monthly statistics. The current housing inventory is at a 10-year high with 1,292 listings.

For those hoping more for-sale signs saying "reduced" would mean the median sales price would fall into the $600,000 range, it's just not happening. In many parts of the county, asking prices are high. The average listing price is more than $1 million in Aptos, Capitola, Davenport, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel, according to Gangnes, although he cautioned that listing prices do not reflect sales prices.

Sales of pricey homes rebound

Median sale price: $774,375
Number of sales: 128
Sales over $1 million: 35

Median sale price: $760,000
Number of sales: 147
Sales over $1 million: 27

Median sale price: $757,000
Number of sales: 164
Sales over $1 million: 40

Source: Real Options Realty

Ocean-view homes, and those within walking distance of the ocean are selling for more than $1 million, longtime agent Tony Aprile said. Patti Boe of American Dream Realty said she was too busy showing homes to have an extended conversation Friday. "I have seven escrows," said Boe, who was involved in two of the six $2 million-plus sales in June.

Kelley Trousdale, who sold a Rio del Mar home in June for $4.5 million, said high-end buyers tend to be people from the Central Valley with disposable income and a yen for a second home with a beachfront. Other agents said high-end buyers include local residents. The buyer of the Scotts Valley home was trading up from a property in Felton, but one of the other prospects was a New Yorker who had sold a business and wanted to move back to Santa Cruz.

Frank Murphy, who represented a buyer who paid $2.5 million for an ocean-view home on the Santa Cruz Westside on Refugio Road, said his clients lived in Santa Cruz but wanted acreage close to the city. Murphy also had a San Mateo prospect who has sold a business and was looking for the right location for a family compound. Two deals fell out of escrow when flaws in the property came to light, and the client ended up buying in Sebastopol.
That's typical for a high-end shopper.

"People can afford these homes and they don't want to settle or compromise," said Oliverez, using the word "cherry-picking" to describe the market. That's why Aprile went to the trouble of bringing in Erin Blackburn to "stage" the Refugio Road home, which was otherwise vacant.
"It's almost a requirement in this market," Aprile said. "When they see the furniture they tend to slow down"

Victoria Pendorf represented the Napa Valley buyer of 302 Cherry Ave. in Capitola, which sold for $3 million. She called the ocean view "amazing — you don't want to leave" The Napa Valley buyer is in the "pre-retirement" crowd, a demographic that could generate more high-end buyers.

The Silicon Valley tech rebound is another factor in the high-end market.
Oliverez mentioned a client who came from Arizona to work in high-tech and bought a $2.6 million home in Los Gatos. "You're not seeing layoffs, you're seeing hiring," he said. "Relocation buyers are out there"

Contact Jondi Gumz at
Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

    On July 24th Countrywide Financial acknowledged that the housing market "might not begin recovering until 2009 because of a decline in house prices," and that even borrowers with good credit are starting to fall behind on their loans. This announcement triggered a sell-off in the stock market, and signals a shift toward a more skeptical view of the future of the housing market than that to which many executives have previously held. According to Vikas Bajaj of the New York Times, Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide's chairman and chief executive, said that "because of a large number of homes on the market, the housing sector would continue to suffer until sometime in 2008 and not begin recovering until 2009."

    As a result of the downturn, major lenders such as Countrywide, Wells Fargo, and others have stopped offering risky sub-prime mortgages. But it isn't just sub-prime borrowers who are struggling with payments. Even "credit-worthy" customers are showing the potential to default as home prices fall. "Countrywide said about 5.4 percent of the home equity loans to customers with good credit that it held an interest in were past due at the end of June, up from 2.2 percent at the end of June 2006."

    To read the article in its entirety and see detailed statistics, go to Top Lender Sees Mortgage Woes for ‘Good’ Risks

FUNNY: Local Cheap agents

by Patti Lyles

You mean there are Cheap agents in Santa Cruz? No way:)

Marketingbudget1I was out showing homes last week and I went to this home.  The sign cracked me up so I took pictures of it front and back.
It is a regular real estate sign, with a pool rider, and a flyer inside a sheet protectory tie wrapped to the rider.
So the agent only had one color flyer of the property and it is not to be removed,  there were no other flyers available.
I wonder what this agent's listing presentation was like. 

"If you want me to list it for 5% instead of 6% I'll have to limit the marketing budget to only one color flyerMarketingbudget_2 out front"

Seller, "Ok, sounds good to me"

This sign cracked me up so I snapped the pictures, but I don't have anyplace to post it.

Have you found something that might be fit for this bad blog cleverly disguised

FUNNY: Real estate company web sites and the obituaries

by Patti Lyles

Real estate company web sites and the obituaries

TombstonelawnornamentWhen I read the Sunday paper I always take a peak at the obituaries.  Mostly to see if I am listed.  This past Sunday I got to thinking about how similar the obituary section of the paper is to real estate company web sites. 

Real estate company web sites usually include a page with  pictures of agents a brief bio, and maybe some details about the services they provide. There is a banner across the top, with the name of the real estate company on it. The obituary pages of the paper are similar, there is a banner across the top and then and pictures of people with a brief bio, and details about services.

There are other similarities.  I look at the dates in an obituary and see that the person who passed away was born in the 1920's, which means they would be in their 80's today, yet the person in the picture looks to be in their 20's or 30's.   This seems to be true on real estate company web sites too.  I have met agents who are 10 to 20 years older than the person pictured on the company web site. Yet the pictures in the obituaries some how look more natural than those on the real estate site.

Not all obituaries have pictures with them.  The same is true with agent bios on real estate web sites.  For the obituaries the picture  section is simply left blank, on the real estate web site the place where the picture should go will have a shadow of a face, the company logo or a for sale sign. 

I often wonder who made the rules about real estate company web sites.  Did they get their ideas one Sunday morning as they were reading the obituaries?

Growing Subprime mess!

by Patti Lyles

Lenders, Schmenders! the Growing Subprime Mess   

Asa past promissory note lender, I know what foreclosures can do to a bank (in the eyes of their regulators) and to a community.  The increasing numbers of foreclosures observed in our marketplace ultimately means that lenders will tighten lending guidelines and mortgages will be harder to obtain, causing home prices to decline.  This is particularly true in the lower range of home values.

Here are some links to brochures produced by the National Association of Realtors that address the growing subprime mess and the changes in the home lending industry.
CNN: "Looking for Ways Out of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis"
USA Today: "Neighborhood Finds Real Estate Loans Too Good to Be True"
Washington Post: "Foreclosure Rate Hits Historic High"
I've all seen the headlines. What consumers need now is a lifeline.

1. Download my newest brochure, "How to Avoid Foreclosure and Keep Your Home," which provides outstanding information for existing homeowners who may not be able to afford their current mortgage, including phone numbers, counseling services and just plain good advice. Download here.
2. Download the brochure, "How to Avoid Predatory Lending" and use it to help prospective homeowners avoid unfair lending practices. Download here.
3. Visit NAR's subprime Web page for additional information on this growing problem and plenty of great resources for you and your clients. More info here.

These are practical, user-friendly resources that you can use in the field to help prospective and current homeowners keep their homes - and build wealth - for the long term. Again, visit the subprime Web page to order copies of these brochures. 

REALTORS® help build communities one home at a time. I know that foreclosures can decimate our communities and our businesses.

Is he up the Zayante Creek?

by Patti Lyles

Anna: Q: My brother just bought a house two weeks ago and today one whole basement wall fell into the basement. Is he up the Zayante creek, or is there something the inspector or Realtor missed?

Patti: A: Yikes! I hope no one was hurt.

Your brother should call back the inspector, the agent and a real estate attorney to help figure out what the problem is, if it is a new problem or an existing problem that was missed, whether the seller knew about it, and what needs to happen to resolve the situation. You may also want to call a structural engineer to get his or her opinion about what caused the basement wall to fall in.

It's unclear from your letter whether the wall of the house fell in or just the plaster or drywall. If just the plaster or drywall fell into the basement, it's possible that there is a serious leak coming in from outside or inside the house. If the entire structural wall of the house collapsed, there could be a water problem, an unstable ground problem or simply a total structural failure of the house.

Let's assume the problem is water leaking into the house. It's entirely possible that the inspector missed the fact that the basement wall was waterlogged or was unstable. Did your brother walk around the property with the inspector during the inspection? If not, is it possible that the inspector didn't actually look in the basement? Did he take any moisture readings? Did he touch the wall?

Once you figure out if the inspector missed the problem or not, you can take corrective action. A good start would be to demand repayment of the fee your brother paid for the inspection. Then, you can talk to a real estate attorney about whether your brother has any legal options against the inspector or seller.

I'm going to skip over the Realtor for the moment and move on to the sellers. Basement walls don't just collapse overnight. Typically, there is a long history of moisture problems, leaking, or major cracks that are greater than 1/8 inch.

What did the sellers disclose on their seller disclosure form? Did they disclose prior leaking of the property? Had there been any major cracks in the basement that they fixed? Was the basement freshly painted? If so, that could be the sign that they were trying to cover something up.

If you suspect a seller disclosure issue, you'll have to prove that the sellers knew, or should have known, about the problem. The Realtor may also be liable, if she knew something about the house's physical condition and didn't disclose it.

It's time to hire an attorney and put on your Sherlock Holmes cap. You've got a lot of work to do to sort this mess out.

One final thing to keep in mind: Sometimes bad things happen and nobody is at fault. It could be possible that the sellers had no knowledge of problems with the basement wall and the inspector did a good job in looking at the house. There are risks in buying property and sometimes nobody is at fault when bad things happen.

Certainly you want to get to the bottom of your issue. You need to investigate the issue further and see if the seller knew of the problem, whether the inspector should have discovered the problem, and whether the Realtor knew of the problem and did not disclose it.


by Patti Lyles

A few tips... , you are interested in purchasing a bank owned property??

You have probably heard that foreclosures can be a bargain. And, this is true. However, it is important to understand that when a bank gets a property back, the bank has lost money that they would have received had the homeowner been able to continue making their payments.

The foreclosure market is currently undergoing many challenges as banks see their default and foreclosure rates escalating. When the bank gets a property back they will want to as quickly as possible recapture as much of the loss as the market will stand. That is, they will want to sell the property for market value or as close as possible. Some lenders will make minor repairs and some may not. Most often the properties will be listed “as is. “ An "as is" home sale means the seller must disclose to the buyer all known defects, but the seller is not obligated to pay for any repairs

It is important for buyers to have the property inspected in order to know the full extent of the repairs that may be needed. Many times an angry homeowner may have stripped the home of plumbing, fixtures, built in appliances, cabinets, sinks, bathtubs, etc. You may have to replace these items at your own expense.

The costs of repairs should be thoroughly considered when making an offer. However, some banks are finding that they have a greater chance of moving a property and getting a higher price if the property is “move in” ready. Then, of course the lender will only consider offers that are in line with the asking price. This approach does not leave much room for buyer negotiation.

Something else to consider when thinking about purchasing a foreclosure, is financing. Can you qualify with the bank offering the property? If not, will the bank accept your qualifying with another lender? Remember, the bank will want to move the property as quickly as possible and will not want to lose any time. They do not want the transaction to fall from escrow because a buyer could not get financed. If you have good credit and some resources i.e., down payment and cash reserves, the bank will consider you a strong buyer.

Often the bank will grant concessions with closing costs, amount of down payment, etc to a strong buyer. These concessions will usually depend on how badly the lender needs to move a property.

For assistance in making an offer please contact me. Remember the listing agent as in any home sale is actually representing the seller. In the case of foreclosures, that means the bank. As the buyer you need representation. For a FREE list of bank owned properties in your area of interest contact me at

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 48

Share This Page

Contact Information

Photo of Patti Lyles Real Estate
Patti Lyles
Century 21 Showcase, REALTORS
P.O. Box 67275
Scotts Valley CA 95067

DRE #01385517