Frequently Asked Questions - Real Estate

Serving Southern California Since 1987


How long has been in business?

The firm started doing business in 1987. The owner, Michael Chulak, became licensed as a real estate broker in 1971.


I would like to work with a Christian real estate agent. Can assign a Christian real estate agent to me?

Yes. Michael Chulak, the founder and owner of the company, is a Christian and many of our agents are Christians. Please call Michael Chulak for additional information.


How long has been a member of the Conejo Simi Moorpark Association of Realtors®?

The company has been a member since its founding in 1987. Michael Chulak became a member in 1982. He became a real estate broker in 1971.


What is a CMA?

A CMA is a comparative market analysis. A CMA helps sellers determine an ideal listing price and the probable selling price of a property. CMAs are prepared by all of our agents for both sellers and buyers.


What is a Broker Price Opinion or BPO?

A Broker Price Opinion or BPO is a real estate broker or agent's opinion of the value of a particular property based upon a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA. It is not an appraisal prepared by a licensed California appraiser.


Can I reliably determine how much my home is worth from an internet website such as Zillow or Trulia?

No. These sites provide only rough computer-generated estimates based upon averages as opposed to specific data. Their valuations can easily be 5% high or low. If you want a reliable estimate of the value of your home, you should have one of our real estate agents prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA).


What does "days on the market" refer to and what is the significance of this term?

Days on the market (DOM) refers to the age of a real estate listing. It measures the total number of days the listing has been on the market in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Properties that have a long DOM are perceived by most real estate agents and their buyer clients to be overpriced or undesirable for some reason. Some agents that represent buyers stay away from listings that have a long DOM. It is for this reason that overpricing can harm a seller's ability to maximize the price of their home. See: Consequences of Overpricing.


I want to sell a home that is currently leased and the lease doesn't expire for several months. As a practical matter, do I have to wait until the lease is near its end before I offer the property for sale?

No. We have many potential buyers for rental homes. These investor-buyers would prefer to acquire a property that is already leased. Selling to a real estate investor will save both you and the buyer money. Many of our rental home property management clients are in the market to buy more rental properties.


What is the best way for us to search for a new home?

After being pre-qualified by one of our real estate agents, the best way to get started is by engaging in an advanced search on our website. The search feature is on the home page. For instructions: Search for Real Estate Listings Like a Realtor.


Will send Email Alerts to people who are interested in buying real estate?

Absolutely. You can be the first to know what properties have just been listed in the Multiple Listing service (MLS) by all Realtor members. To sign up: Receive Email Listing Alerts.


Does provide Yard Sale Signs to people who are holding a yard sale in anticipation of possibly selling their house?

Yes. Whether you are intended to sell or not, we are pleased to provide up to five yard sale signs to anyone holding a yard or estate sale who owns property anywhere in our primary meeting area. For details see: Yard Signs and Yard Sales.


I am intending to sell my home. What am I required to disclose to prospective buyers about my home?

You are required by law to disclose every material fact that would affect a buyer's decision to buy or not buy the property, or to pay more or less for the property. This is a very broad disclosure requirement that sellers must take seriously.


I am intending to purchase a condominium and would like to learn more about them, where can I find reliable information?

I would start by reading the blog, the FAQ, and the articles on the Coast Management of California website. You should also visit the important resources for additional, invaluable information.


What is a home warranty plan or contract?

A home warranty plan or contract is a service contract. They are usually one year renewable contracts. These contracts are offered by large private companies that are regulated by the California Department of Insurance, and cover repairs and replacements of most major home appliances and system components due to failure, normal usage, and other defined reasons. Not every home warranty plan is identical and there are different levels of protection that can be purchased. They should not be confused with homeowner insurance policies. Home warranty plans are very popular with buyers of homes in California. The plans can be paid for by the buyer or seller. If you are interested in a home warranty plan, please contract any of the real estate agents with


How much does it cost to hire a buyer's agent?

It doesn't cost anything. Agents that are hired by buyers are a paid portion of the commission paid by the seller of the property. See Buyer's Agents.


What is a dual agency?

When you decide to have one of our agents represent you, the agent will discuss whether his or her representation will be that of a listing or seller's agent, a buyer's agent, or possibly a dual agent. You will be given an agency disclosure document to read and sign. More information about the agency disclosure document is on this website, we urge you to read it because it is for your protection.


What is earnest money?

Earnest money is money deposited into escrow in connection with a purchase agreement to demonstrate good faith that the buyer serious about closing the transaction. Earnest money protects the seller if the buyer backs out after all contingency periods have expired or is unable to perform. The lack of performance by the buyer for any reason can cause substantial financial harm to the seller, who has taken the property off the market and has probably made plans  based on the sales agreement.


What type of credit score do I need to buy a home?

The answer depends on the type of financing you will obtain. Most conventional real estate lenders require a FICO Score of 620 or better with the lowest interest rates going to borrowers with scores above 700. FHA lenders generally require a minimum FICO Score of 500 with 10% down and 580 with 3.5% down. VA lenders generally require a minimum FICO Score of 580 but prefer a score of 620.


How much cash do I need for a down payment?

The answer depends on the type of financing you will obtain. Conventional lenders require 10% to 20% down unless the loan is very large and then they may require 30% down. FHA lenders require as little as 3.5% down. VA lenders generally do not require Score of 500 with 10% down and 580 with 3.5% down. VA lenders generally require a any down payment.


Is it possible for me to earn real estate commissions by simply referring  potential buyers and sellers to a full time, experienced real estate agent?

Yes. By becoming a referral agent, you can avoid joining the Board of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service while earning commissions. Referral real estate agents can earn thousands of dollars consistently each year without showing homes or selling. Call Michael Chulak for details.


I'm an experienced licensed real estate agent who specializes in representing buyers and sellers of land in California. I'm also interested in joining Do you have the resources to support a land sales specialist?

Absolutely. We have been representing buyers and sellers of large and small parcels of land in California since 1987. See:


Do you do more than sell homes?

Yes. We are involved in property management, commercial leasing, and the sale of apartment buildings, commercial properties and land. Our affiliate, Pacific Business Advisors represents people wanting to sell or buy a business.


Does receive referrals from out of the area real estate brokers?

Yes. Our firm receives both buyer and seller referrals from: Broker to Broker Referrals and other referral sources.


Does a large number of agents with a real estate brokerage firm increase the probability that a property listed with the firm will sell fast and at a higher price?

No. The size of a real estate brokerage firm does not matter because the  overwhelming majority of real estate sales are the result of agents using the Multiple Listing Service. The MLS has thousands of member agents.

The Multiple Listing service, or MLS, is a marketing database established by its member real estate brokers who cooperate with each other by providing accurate  data about properties each broker has for sale or lease.

Nearly all real estate brokers are members of the MLS. This includes the large franchise brokers as well as small independent brokers. The MLS has the effect of making every brokerage firm equal in that every property listed for sale can be  sold by any real agent employed by any member broker. It is usual for a listed property to be sold by a firm other than the listing firm.

The concept of the MLS is that each brokerage firm working through its real estate agents will attempt to sell any of the properties listed because commissions are split between the listing firm and the selling firm with each firm compensating its own agents.

The MLS, with its large inventory of listed properties, is designed to provide every real estate agent access to the total inventory of available properties. Most importantly, the shared system of property listings gives every property equal exposure to the market. This arrangement is in the best interest of sellers, buyers, brokers, and real estate agents.

When it comes to selling or buying real estate, the size of the firm is of little importance. It is the performance of the individual agent that matters. His or her dedication, knowledge, and experience is what really counts.


Should I list my house high so that I have plenty of room to come down during the negotiating process?

When you decide to sell your property, one of the most important decisions you must make is your listing or asking price. While you don't want to underprice your real estate, overpricing it has many disadvantages. See: Consequences of Overpricing.


When I sell my home, can I take my favorite light fixtures (or other attached items) with me?

You can take them provided that you have reserved the right to remove and take them in the agreement to sell your home. If you don't include such a written provision, anything attached to the walls, ceiling, and floors will be included in the sale.


Is the assessed value of my house an indicator of its market value?

No. The assessed value is the number assigned by the real estate taxing authorities and is not indicative of the fair market value of your home.


What happens if the appraisal for a home comes in lower than the purchase contract-amount?

There are four possibilities: (1) The buyer can accept the lower appraisal and loan amount. and come up with the difference. (2) The seller can reduce the sales price, (3) the buyer and seller can compromise the sales price amount, or (4) The transaction can be cancelled by the buyer.


Does have any experience with short sales?

Yes. We have represented sellers in short sale transactions as well as buyers. has an excellent website and reputation, but I noticed that you are not listed as a "Top Realtor" on any of the websites that recommend "Top Agents" in Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Westlake Village and other nearby communities. Can you explain why you are not listed as a top real estate agent or broker on any of these websites?

Yes. The websites are advertising websites where real estate brokers and agents pay to be listed as a 'top agent'", "best agent", or "top rated agent". When you receive a referral from one of these of these websites, what you are getting is a real estate agent that was willing to pay for advertising on that site. There is of course, nothing wrong with advertising. Nearly every real estate brokerage firm and agent advertises in one form or another. Some use these paid referral sites, and others like, use other means to attract clients such as our own websites, our signs which can be seen throughout Southern California, direct mail marketing, and referrals. Referrals come from satisfied clients, referral agents, and other brokers.


Are real estate brokerage commissions set by law in California? It seems that  every firm is charging 6% to sell a home and 10% to sell land.

Broker commissions are not set by law. Every real estate brokerage firm establishes what it will charge to market and sell a given property. Commissions and levels of service vary from firm to firm.


Some real estate brokers advertise that they will sell a house for a 2.5% commission, when most brokerage firms quote fees between 5% and 6%. How is it possible for a company to charge half of what most of the industry charges?

While real estate brokerage commissions very from company to company and are always negotiable, most brokerage transactions involve the listing office getting paid 50% of the total commission, and the selling office, representing the buyer, getting paid the other 50% of the commission. For example, with a 5% commission, each office would typically receive 2.5%.

When a broker charges a commission that is far below what other offices charge, you should carefully read the fine print. Sometimes the percentage quoted is only for their office and does not include a cooperating brokerage firm. Sometimes the service offered is greatly reduced. As a potential seller of real estate, you need to make certain you know what is being offered.


Does offer any commission discounts or rebates to buyers or sellers of homes?

Yes. In appreciation of their extraordinary service, is pleased to offer a $1,000 commission discount or rebate to all active-duty military and reservists in the United State Armed Forces, sheriffs, police, fire fighters, and paramedics who buy or sell a home through our company.


Does recommend that buyers of real estate utilize the services of a mortgage broker, a commercial bank, or a credit union?

While mortgage brokers have differing levels of knowledge and experience, and some have better reputations for performance, a good mortgage broker can nearly always outperform a commercial bank or credit union when it comes to originating real estate loans. The reason is simple. Mortgage brokers develop multiple sources of mortgage loans, provided by wholesale lenders, allowing them to shop for their clients in order to obtain the best loans available.


How important is it for a buyer to obtain a formal home inspection when buying a home?

It is absolutely essential for a buyer to obtain a professional, objective, written report. If the inspector determines that substantial work is required before the end of the buyer's contingency period, the report may justify the buyer asking for either a price reduction or that repairs be made by the seller.


What is Real Estate Owned or REO Properties?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. It is a banking term that is used by commercial banks, credit unions, and mortgage bankers to refer to properties acquired by the lender by means of foreclosure. Some lenders use the term area which stands for Other Real Estate Owned. Buying foreclosed properties from a lender has substantial risks.


What are lender required repairs?

There are specific repairs required before a lender will commit to make a loan to a new buyer. They are normally identified in the appraisal report. Roof leaks and code violations are the two most common types of lender required repairs.


Do you have contractors and handymen that you can recommend for work on my house?

Absolutely. Pacific-Realtors. net has a full-service property management division that has an extensive list of contractors and handymen that are available to our clients.


We own a condominium that we really cannot afford, but don't want to move. Is it possible for you to find an investor who would buy a partial interest in our property so that we are able to lower our monthly housing expense?

Yes. Call Michael Chulak to discuss the various options that are available.


Does your firm ever joint venture the purchase of investment properties with others?

Yes. We will consider the joint venture of homes, rental homes, apartments, commercial properties, and land. Call Michael Chulak to discuss a potential joint purchase of any type of real estate.


How does an option to purchase real estate work?

An option to purchase real estate is a written contract between the option holder (optionee) and a property owner (optionor) that gives the option holder the right to purchase the property at a defined price on a certain date or within a certain period of time. The price may be fixed in the contract or it may be based on the fair market value on the date the option is exercised as determined by an appraisal. In most cases the price is fixed. When the contract is signed. Optionors charge optionees a fee for the exclusive right to purchase the property in the future. During the option period, the optionor cannot sell the' property to any other person. Option contracts are usually, but not always, written in connection with the lease of the property to the option holder.


When lists a house for sale, do you hold open houses?

We strongly believe that holding open houses helps to sell houses and have sold many properties due to the fact that we hold open houses. As long as we have the consent of the seller, we will hold open houses until the property is sold. Open houses work because many buyers understand that there is no substitute for seeing properties in person. While photographs and videos have their place, open houses have proven to result in sales. Some of our competitors will not invest their time in holding open houses.


In your experience, what percentage of homes are sold to people who visited the home at an open house held by your firm?

In our experience, which dates from 1987, approximately 7% of homes we have held open sold as a result of an open house.


If we list our home for sale with, are we required to hold open houses?

No. You are not required to hold open houses, but it is advisable to do so because they increase demand and they usually result in faster sales and higher prices.


What is home staging and does recommend it to people who are selling their homes?

Home staging consists of various techniques to make homes that are being offered for sale more appealing to potential buyers. Staging can be very expensive and is usually used only by owners of high value, luxury homes that can take full advantage of the techniques. Staging includes interior decorating, the temporary addition of high-quality furniture, art, rugs, paintings, lighting, accessories and mature indoor plants. It also involves the removal and storage of items, that may detract from the salability of the home. in the opinion of the staging professional who is usually an interior designer. While improvements can be made to any home and it always makes sense to remove any clutter, Pacific-Realtors. net rarely recommends the use of professional staging because it is rarely cost-effective.


Can a non-citizen own real estate in the United States?

Absolutely. Whether you are a citizen or a non-citizen, we would be pleased to help you purchase a home, land, or any other real estate.


When I sell my house, I intend to move out of California and retire. Can you refer me to a reliable, knowledgeable real estate agent?

Almost always.


I would like to start a career in real estate. Do you have any suggestions?

You have already made a good start by visiting our website. You will need to take certain required courses which you can take through First Tuesday. They are an excellent company and you can contact them through our site. They will give you a discounted price when you contact them through They also offer an excellent, prelicensing exam crash course which we highly recommend.  Our firm also offers a real estate licensing crash course which is absolutely free. Information is on this site.

After you pass the state exam, we would like to meet with you in person if you are in Southern California or via Zoom if you are not local. After learning more about you and your career goals, we will assign a mentor to you and will provide you with  excellent training. Of course, you many contact us at any stage or at any time. Please ask for Michael Chulak.


Why are the fees charged agents by the large franchised real estate brokerage firms so high while smaller well-established firms like operate without charging these fees?

It is a fundamental difference in our business models. Our business plan is based upon a structure that when our agents make money, the firm also makes money, and if our agents don't earn money, the firm doesn't earn money. Therefore, we have every incentive to help our agents succeed in achieving their professional goals. Our structure has worked well since 1987. It has benefited us, our agents, and most importantly, our clients. Some of the large, franchised companies attract agents who like their large, spacious offices where they can socialize, .but are not expected to represent many buyers or sellers because the company is earning money from them in the form of monthly desk fees, franchise fees, education fees, E&O fees, and so on.


Is a discount broker?

No. We are a full-service real estate firm that provides our clients all of the necessary services to sell, buy, or lease real estate in California. Our fees are very competitive and we have been in business since 1987. See: Discount Brokers.


When I sell my property, who receives the commission I am paying?

Generally, 50% is paid to the selling office and 50% is paid to the listing office. Each office must pay their agent from its share of the commission. This is typically between 50% and 80% of the amount received by the office. Every office is different so the formula will vary from office to office.


If I obtain a real estate license and join your firm, will I be assigned someone to assist me through my first few sales transactions?

Absolutely. All new real estate agents are assigned a mentor and receive extensive training both in the office and in the field. A knowledgeable experienced, financially successful senior agent will be available 24 / 7 to help you and will be available to meet with prospective clients as needed.


Does have an experienced transaction coordinator?

Yes. Our transaction coordinator has been providing our real estate agents with excellent services for many years.


Is it possible to be successful selling real estate part-time?

Yes, assuming you have no other employment, or your other employment is compatible with selling real estate. If your other employment allows for flexibility in your time requirements, there should be no problem. If your other employment is rigid in its time requirements, it will not be compatible with serving as a real estate agent which often requires you to be available on short notice. It is for this reason, that many successful part-time real estate agents choose to manage rental homes part-time and/or team-up with a full time agent. We encourage this at and help agents develop rental home management business.


Is your company familiar with the sale of stock cooperatives?

Yes. We have represented many buyers and sellers of coops in Southern California.


I would like to join your real estate company but I live very far from your corporate office in Agoura Hills. Can I work from my home in Northern California if I join

Yes. It is not necessary to work from Agoura Hills. Today, most real estate agents do most of their work from their home.


I am a very successful real estate agent with a dedicated team located within ten miles of Agoura Hills. Will you consider opening a office for my team?

Yes, assuming you have a proven record of success over a period of at least two years.


Does the opportunity exist within your firm for a successful Realtor to become a part owner of the company?



Is interested in acquiring small independent real estate brokerage firms in Southern California?

Yes. Please call to discuss.


How much are real property taxes in California and how are they calculated?

Real estate taxes in California consist the 1% rate established by Proposition 13 in 1978 plus voter approved debt and district levies. Voter approved debt and district levies vary, but average about .25% for a total average tax of 1.25% of the fair market value. This is an estimate only.


How big is an acre?

An acre is 43,560 square feet and approximately 208.75 feet square. A large residential lot is typically one-quarter acre or 10,890 square feet. Further information on the size of land parcels can be found at: Land Dimensions and Descriptions.


We own some desert land that is located in an extremely remote area. It does not have water or utilities, and is not located on an improved road. We have tried to sell it without success. Can you help us sell it?

Yes. If you are wiling to carry financing, we have buyers who are long term land bankers who are in the market for inexpensive rural land including desert property.


If I sell my desert land with 10% to 15% down, carry back financing to make  the sale, and then pay a commission and closing costs, I will end up with little cash. If I list my desert property with your firm, are you willing to take all or some of your commission as a note secured by a deed of trust?

Generally, yes. If we recommend that the seller carry back financing, we are almost always willing to convert all or some or all of our commission into financing.


Should I buy land in California using a land contract or land sales contract?

No. Land sales contracts or land contracts are full of risks for buyers of land. We recommend that you receive a grant deed and that any real estate financing involve the use of a standard promissory note and a recorded deed of trust. A neutral escrow holder should always be used and you should always insist on a policy of title insurance. Please refer to the article on our website: Land Sales Contracts for more information.