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.


Why do so many homeowners who attempt to sell their house without a Realtor eventually hire a realtor?

There are many reasons starting with the fact that every buyer who contacts a FSBO homeowner wants to save 4% to 6% which is the amount of an average sales commission. See: For Sale by Owner Information for a list of additional reasons.


How can, justify a lower commission than most other brokers and still offer all of the services expected by clients? does not spend money on things that don't help to sell homes or find homes for clients. We use our cash wisely for the benefit of our clients and our agents. We don't spend money on fancy offices and franchise fees. We spend money on marketing and pay our agents generously so they can take whatever time is required to serve our clients.


What is a real estate company pyramid scheme?

A real estate company pyramid scheme is a company that advertises itself to both the public and licensed real estate agents as a real estate brokerage company, but it actually focuses far more heavily on recruiting agents to join the company to recruit other agents for compensation. These companies make money by charging their agents startup fees, desk fees, franchise fees, education fees, transaction fees, and other monthly fees. Representing buyers and sellers of real estate is a secondary consideration. See: Reasons to Join


Does offer agent training for new real estate agents or agents that want to increase their knowledge and skills?

Absolutely. We offer a comprehensive ten week Zoom course designed to benefit real estate agents with all levels of experience. See: Real Estate Training.


We own a rental property that is underwater and we are facing foreclosure. Can you help us?

Probably yes. We have buyers looking for underwater properties and we also have extensive experience with short sales. Buyers of underwater properties want leverage and are investing for the long term.


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.


Why are most full-service real estate brokerage firms giving up their brick-and mortar offices and converting to virtual offices?

Every full-service real estate brokerage firm must compete with other brokers and this competition tends to dictate what full service real estate firms can charge their clients.

When real estate firms spend their commission income on brick-and-mortar offices, they have less money to spend on marketing and less money to pay their agents. The trend is for real estate companies to forgo expensive offices and to utilize their income to directly benefit their clients and agents.


I have seen numerous real estate ads in which a person represents that he sold his house in only one day. Is this realistic?

It is possible. If someone sells their home in only one day, it means that one of two things have probably occurred: (1) They are a one in a million seller that won the real estate lottery, or (2) Far more likely, they sold the property below market value, possibly because they were talked into accepting an early, below market offer. When a real estate listing is exposed to hundreds of local agents over a period of weeks in the MLS, a seller is likely to get the highest offer their property will bring.


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. Our firm is also a member of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.


What does the term Realtor® mean?

Realtor® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.


What is the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)?

The National Association of Realtors® is a large trade organization representing residential and commercial real estate brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in the real estate industry. NAR functions as a self-regulatory organization and provides educational material to its members. Unlike other real estate agents, its members are pledged to a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. NAR holds the trademark over the term, Realtor®. Only members of NAR may call themselves Realtors®.


Is a member of the National Association of Realtors®?

Yes. and all of its brokers and agents are members of NAR and can proudly call themselves Realtors®. The founding owner of the company, Michael Chulak, became a Realtor® in 1982.


Can assist us in purchasing a new home directly from a developer?

Yes. We can assist you in buying a new home from a home builder anywhere in Southern California. See: Buying a Newly Constructed Home from a Developer.


Do new developers typically utilize the standard California Association of Realtors (CAR) sales agreement that nearly all real estate brokers and agents use?

Almost never. The CAR agreement was designed by attorneys working for the California Association of Realtors to be fair for both buyers and sellers of homes in California. Most developers hire attorneys to create custom sales agreements that are one-sided in their favor. It is for this reason that buyers must exercise caution when buying a home from a developer.


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).


Will planting trees in my front and rear yards add value to my home?

Planting trees will almost always result in a higher property value, assuming the location of the trees and their root systems are not likely to destroy pipes, drains, walkways, planters, or other hardscape. Fruit trees in particular will add substantial value. See: Benefits of Planting Trees.


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.


What is the difference between a contingent status and a pending status as it relates to the sale of real estate?

Property sales designated as "contingent" means that the seller has accepted an offer, but the listing remains active because one or more contingencies have not been satisfied by the buyer. These contingencies may include a financing contingency, appraisal contingency, or an inspection contingency. When a sale is contingent, it may be specified "continue to show" or "do not show". The seller may continue to accept backup offers. When a sale escrow indicates "pending" it means that the seller and his or her agent are confident that all contingencies have been satisfied and the sale will close. Usually no more showings will take place and backup offers will not be solicited. See: Reasons to Use an Independent Escrow Company and Transaction Coordinators.


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.


Is it possible to buy land on Catalina Island or on any of the Channel Islands?

Yes. While Catalina Island encompasses 76 square miles, all private homes are located in Avalon. The rest of the island and the other Channel Islands are owned by either the Catalina Island Conservancy or the Santa Catalina Island Company. While only a small number of home sales take place on the island each year, our company can assist clients in buying or selling a home in Avalon.


Is it possible for a single family detached home to be a condominium?

Absolutely. A condominium is a legal form of ownership, not an architectural style. The CC&Rs of most homeowner associations define the type of common interest development that was created by the developer which may be a condominium, planned development, cooperative, or community apartment project.


What is the difference between a condominium and a townhouse or townhome?

It is important to distinguish between architectural styles of buildings and legal forms of ownership. See: Townhouses, Townhomes, and Condominiums.


If I see a house or other property on Zillow that I want to purchase that is listed by another brokerage company, can I have an agent with represent me in the purchase of the property?

Absolutely. Our real estate agents can represent you in buying any property listed on Zillow,, Trulia, or other websites. Call us for assistance any time.


Are Alternative Real Estate Buyers legitimate? We are bombarded with ads from companies who promise to buy a person's home in one day.

Some of these buyers, such as Zillow; will actually buy your home, but many others are scams. Those that will buy your property do so only if they get a super bargain. They start at the low range of the home's market value and then subtract an allowance for two commissions, repair and upgrade costs, marketing costs, holding costs, closing costs, financing costs, and a profit on their investment. Those that are scams usually intend to find a buyer for your property before they are committed to buy it so they are guaranteed a profit on the resale. Often they tie up properties for months before they close escrow creating all types of problems for the owners. They are in the double escrow business. Sellers should investigate very carefully before signing a contract with one of these companies, including obtaining several local references.


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 intending 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 marketing 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.


Does recommend that the seller of a house, obtain a pre-listing home inspection?

The decision to obtain a pre-listing home inspection report has both advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed by every seller. There is no one answer that applies to every situation. See: Pre-listing Home Inspections.


What cities in Southern California require a pre-sale inspection report?

More and more cities in Southern California require a pre-sale inspection report. Real estate agents are cautioned to request written instructions from the governing city because requirements and costs are subject to change. See: Cities requiring a Pre-Sale Inspection Report


What are some of the most affluent cities in Southern California?

The following cities are ranked in order based upon the average household income: Rolling Hills, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Westlake Village, Rolling Hills Estates, San Marino, Newport Beach, Calabasas, Beverly Hills, Agoura Hills, South Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Thousand Oaks.


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 paid portion of the commission paid by the seller of the property. We represent buyers of both pre-owned homes and new homes. 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.


Does recommend dual agency representation in residential real estate transactions?

No. While dual agency relationships are legal in California, the management of our firm does not believe dual agency relationships best serve buyers and sellers of residential real estate. See: Dual Agent Relations - Residential Sales.


Do you permit agents to work as dual agents?

While dual agency is lawful in California, we do not permit a single agent with our firm to represent both a buyer and seller in one residential real estate sales transaction without the express consent of our client. See: Dual Agent Relationships - Residential Sales and Agency Relationship Disclosures.


What is a Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and when is it required?

A Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) is required in the sale of one to four residential units as well as many other types of real estate transactions. It is an important disclosure required for the benefit of both buyers and sellers. See: Transfer Disclosure Statements (TDS).


What is earnest money?

Earnest money is money deposited into escrow in connection with a purchase agreement to demonstrate good faith that the buyer is 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 are FICO scores determined and how can a FICO score be improved?

A FICO score is a credit score created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). Lenders and lessors use the scores to make credit granting decisions. See: FICO Score - Credit Score for detailed answers to your questions.


Is it possible to purchase a home after being discharged in a bankruptcy?

Yes. However there are a number of things you must know. See: Buying a House After Bankruptcy - What You Need to Know.


Does your firm recommend that we hire a credit repair company to improve our credit score before applying for a loan to purchase a property?

No. Most people can repair their own credit without the need of hiring a credit repair company. See: Free Credit Repair and FICO Score - Credit Score.


When does a short sale make sense and does your firm have experience with short sales?

When an owner needs to sell and the value of the property is less than the mortgage, it makes sense to attempt a short sale. See: Short Sales.


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 don't require a any down payment. See: Closing Costs - Sale of Home.


What is the most effective way to buy a house in a seller's market if I don't have 100% of the cash in the bank?

Obtain a written loan approval from a mortgage lender and then submit it to the seller, through your agent, with proof of the required cash down payment when your make your offer.


Is it possible to acquire real estate with a reverse mortgage loan?

Yes. You can use the proceeds of a reverse mortgage loan for any purpose.


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.


What is the policy of concerning commission splits with other real estate brokerage firms?

When lists a home for sale or lease we always place the listings in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and offer a 50% commission split. This assures that our client's property will get maximum exposure to potential buyers or tenants and that real estate agents with other offices will enthusiastically refer their clients to us. Some real estate brokers refuse to split commissions, offer very small commissions to other agents, or refuse to place their listings in the MLS. This works to the great disadvantage of their clients and is considered unethical by most brokerage firms.


What is a Pocket Listing?

Pocket Listing can refer to a listing to sell real estate or lease real estate. A pocket listing exists where an agent does not place the listing into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). In most cases, a pocket listing works to the advantage of the listing agent and to the disadvantage of the client. See: Pocket Listing - Real Estate Sales and Pocket Listing - Rental Property Leases. Before entering into a pocket listing, you should also see: Dual Agent Relationships.


I'm an experienced real estate agent. I want to continue representing buyers and sellers of homes, but I would also like to represent buyers and sellers of businesses. Most real estate brokerage firms won't permit their agents to get involved with business sales. If I join, is it possible for me to represent buyers and sellers of businesses?

Yes. The owners of our company own a sister company that represents buyers and sellers of businesses throughout California. Please visit: and then call Michael Chulak for a confidential interview.


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:


Does your company 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.


How does "Free Broker to Broker Referrals" help clients of sell their homes?

Free Broker to Broker Referrals creates a source of buyers moving to Southern California from other geographical areas. These prospective buyers are matched with our agents who assist them in finding a home.


Moving out of the Area?

If you are selling your home and moving out of the area, we can assist you in finding a first rate real estate broker near your destination who can help you find a new home. Please call Michael Chulak at 818-991-5200 or contact us by email.


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 common 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.


Are there any benefits to listing a house for sale during the holiday season?

Yes. There are several reasons. See: Reasons to List Your Home for Sale During the Holiday Season


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.


How can someone increase their chances of winning a bidding contest for a specific property when several people want to buy it?

You can pay cash which eliminates any financing contingency, make a large deposit, give the seller their desired closing date, meet the sellers in order to establish rapport, and waive any other contingencies. If you cannot pay all cash, you can get preapproved for a loan and eliminate any financing contingency. Obviously, a high price will make a huge difference.


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 for more than 35 years. 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. Commissions are always negotiable.


Why doesn't receive referrals from Dave Ramsey?

Dave Ramsey is a referral service. Real estate agents, who meet his requirements, pay a 30% referral fee plus a substantial monthly fee to obtain referrals. None of the agents who have worked for since its founding in 1987 have applied to obtain referrals while employed by the 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 does a buyer's agent obtain copies of CC&Rs, Operating Rules, and other information from the seller of a common interest development before an offer is made and a contract is formed?

The buyer's agent should be able to obtain these items directly from the real estate broker or agent representing the seller. All real estate brokers and agents should have copies of these documents and answers to any important questions since they need to read the documents and inform themselves in order to represent the best interests of their clients. It is always in the best interest of a seller to allow the buyer to review the CC&Rs and Operating Rules before a buyer makes an offer.


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 OREO which stands for Other Real Estate Owned. Buying foreclosed properties from a lender has substantial risks.


What are lender required repairs?

They 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. 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 9% of homes we have held open sold as a result of an open house.


When you hold an open house for a client, how do you advertise it?

Open houses are advertised on the Board of Realtors website which is where most Realtors will look for the information, and on both Craigslist and Zillow where people without a Realtor are likely to seek the information. We also place up to 20 directional signs for each open house held depending on the need. Lastly, we mail open-house notices to the human resource department of major employers in the area and to people who are renting luxury properties because nearly all of these renters will become buyers. Human resource departments of large employers often help transferring employees find suitable housing.


Why does hold open houses for agents of other real estate brokerage firms?

There are several reasons. Open houses are an excellent opportunity to meet home buyers, and to a lesser extent, sellers. If we meet someone who buys the house being held open, we are happy, the listing broker is happy, and the seller is happy. If the people we meet don't buy the house being held open, we may be able to show them another home that they do buy. This may be a house owned by one of our clients. Thus, holding open houses for other agents is a means of generating potential buyers for our own listings. See: Open Houses.


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, 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.


How would you describe the culture of your company?

We are a small, successful firm, established in 1987, that greatly values our staff and every one of our agents. We work closely together and assist each other accomplish our personal goals, company goals, and the goals of our clients. We have no desire to be a giant impersonal company where nobody is very important. Our desire is for everyone who becomes a part of Pacific-Realtors. net to live by the Golden Rule.


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, they don't pay fees to the firm. 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.


Can provide us advice on how we should hold tittle to our property?

Only an attorney can provide such advice, however, we have provided educational material on this website to assist you. See: Holding Title to Real Estate in California.


What types voluntary and involuntary real property liens exist in California?

There are nine common forms of liens that effect real property in California. See: Real Property Liens in California.


What is bare legal title?

Bare legal title is the title held by a trustee under a deed of trust in California. It permits the trustee to foreclose on the property and transfer title to a third party subject to conditions set forth in the deed of trust and California law. While a trustee holds bare legal title, the trustor holds equitable title which allows him or her possession and the right to use and enjoy the property.


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.


How should buyers and sellers of homes deal with multiple offer negotiations?

Since our founding in 1987, the real estate brokers and agents with have received multiple offers many times. The National Association of Realtors® has published a guide that is directed to buyers, sellers, brokers, and agents. See: A Buyer's and Sellers' Guide to Multiple Offer Negotiations.


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.


If I was to join your firm as a residential real estate agent what would I be required to pay to get started?

You would be required to pay your board and MLS dues, your first order of business cards, and for any sign riders you may need. You would not be required to pay any desk or monthly fees, franchises fees, startup fees or monthly insurance fees. With our office, you pay per transaction E&O insurance. Our office also provides for-sale signs, email, and a personal webpage, on our corporate website. Ask about our subsidized advertising program. See our website: Reasons to Join for complete details.


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 twenty 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.


Can I join or form a real estate team if I associate with

Absolutely. We are strong advocates of real estate teams and fully support the arrangement because we know that teams lead to success for everyone involved, including our clients.


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 Michael Chulak 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.


What is a city or county general plan and how does it impact value?

In California, every city and county must adopt its own general plan for long-term physical development. These plans have a substantial impact on the demand for land and buildings within the local government's planning area. See: General Plans - Cities and Counties


What is an overlay zone?

An overlay zone is a defined geographic area shown on a city or a county zoning map where special requirements exist in addition to the underlying base zoning district requirements. Some overlay zones are intended to provide incentives to developers to build low-cost housing within certain districts by permitting increased housing density, reduced lot setbacks, reduced parking requirements, and/or reduced government fees.


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.


What is plottage?

Plottage is the increase in value obtained by combining adjacent parcels of land into one larger, more useful parcel. The process is known as assemblage. Often, the value of the assembled parcels will be worth far more than the sum of the individual parcels.


What is assemblage?

Assemblage is the process of combining two or more parcels of land into one larger, more useful parcel. The process of assemblage creates the plottage value.


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.


Is it possible to find buyers for remote rural land that is landlocked without any legal access?

Yes. There are buyers for landlocked rural land including desert land. Down payments are usually in the range of 5% to 10% and long-term seller financing is almost always required.


What does do when someone wants to list a lot or parcel of land for sale with your firm?

The first thing we do is evaluate and determine the land's highest and best use and approximate value, so we know who to target as potential buyers. Factors that are important include the zoning of the land, its configuration, its precise location, general demand in the area, and what is being planned in the area. The information helps us determine who we will contact from our database of land developers, home builders, land bankers, franchise companies, chain stores, investors, and other land brokers. We also erect a sign on the property and contact adjacent and nearby property owners. Finally, we receive inquiries from our website.


Will provide us an estimate of value before we list our vacant land for sale?

Absolutely. While estimating the value of vacant land is difficult, we will provide you with our best estimate of value based upon the data available.


What type of land is easiest to sell?

Land that is zoned for condominiums, planned developments (single family detached homes) and apartments are the easiest to sell. Next would be individual lots zoned for the construction of a single house.


When evaluating pre-development land opportunities, what are some of the most important considerations?

Your evaluation should include the following: 1) Is the location in the growth path of a major population center? 2) Is the. population of the area in which the land is located increasing at an acceptable rate? 3) Is the land usable and relatively level? 4) Is the land easy to reach by car? 5) Does a master plan exist for streets, sewers, and utilities? 6) Is water available? 7) Is the land located in a business-friendly county and state where residential and commercial development is encouraged? 8) Is the land priced at or below fair market value? 9) Can I afford the payments?

Your final decision to invest in land will ultimately involve weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. The agents with can assist you in evaluating all types of real estate investments.


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 FAQs and article on our website: Land Sales Contracts for more information.


How do escrows work in California?

An escrow is a legal arrangement in which a third party, a licensed escrow holder, temporarily holds money, and sometimes property, until specified conditions nave been met that satisfy all parties to the escrow. The parties to most escrows involving the sale of a home include a buyer, seller, a homeowner association, and usually the buyer's lender and seller's lender See: Escrows in California.


What is a HUD-I Settlement Statement?

The HUD-I Settlement Statement is a document that lists all charges and credits to the buyer and seller in a real estate sale, or all of the charges in a real estate loan refinance. After 2015, some lenders use a similar form called the Closing Disclosure.


Does recommend adding adult children to the deed of the home owned by the parents?

Never. There are many risks involved in doing so. See: Eight Reasons Not to Add Your Child to the Deed of Your Home.


Is there any reason why I should not have my best friend or a relative represent me in purchasing a home or other property?

Yes. When a real estate agent represents a buyer in a transaction, they become aware of the following: (1) The buyer's credit history and FICO score, including any late payments, charge offs, judgments, repossessions and former bankruptcies; (2) The buyer's assets including bank account balances, savings account balances, securities account balances, 401K account balances, and other retirement account balances; (3) Alimony or child support payments being collected or paid; (4) Disability payments being collected; and (5) Possibly information about prior marriages.

While real estate agents are required to maintain confidentiality, a good friend or relative who represents a buyer will have this information and you must trust that person not to share it with their best friend, spouse or other relatives.


What happens if two people own a property and one wants to sell it while the other refuses to sell it?

The co-owner that wants to sell the property must hire a real estate attorney to file a partition lawsuit in order to obtain a court order forcing the sale of the property. Partition suits rarely result in forcing the co-owners to sell the property. These cases are usually settled long before trial. Before filing a partition lawsuit, you may want to attempt to settle the dispute in mediation.


What is a wholesale lender?

A wholesale lender is a mortgage lender that works through mortgage brokers instead of working directly with borrowers. These wholesale lenders discount their fees so that mortgage brokers can offer loans to borrowers at rates comparable and often far better than what direct lenders can offer. Many lenders prefer to establish wholesale relationships with several mortgage brokers so they don't have to establish and support a loan origination department where the volume of loans can fluctuate greatly as the real estate market and interest rates change from week to week. Many wholesale lenders also prefer the diversification that working with several mortgage brokers brings. The percentage of mortgage loans being originated by mortgage brokers, as opposed to direct lenders, has been increasing every year for the last 10 years or more. See: Reasons to Use a Mortgage Broker.


May we distribute your articles to others and add them to our website?

Yes, provided we are given credit for writing the article. Every one of our articles includes our identifying information at the bottom which must be included. There is no cost for using our articles.


Can assist us in obtaining a loan modification? We have no equity in our property and are three months delinquent with little chance of paying our loan current.

Unfortunately, we cannot assist you in obtaining a loan modification. During the depth of the great recession of 2008, the California legislature passed a law that effectively destroyed the loan modification business for attorneys and others with expertise in this area. Owners like yourself are now required to seek your own loan modification or rely upon the mercy of your lender or some government employee. Prior to the legislature destroying the industry, the founder of had successfully obtained more than 50 loan modifications for clients which resulted in their being able to save their homes from foreclosure. The success rate was more than 90%. Since the new law became effective, the number of foreclosures on homes has greatly increased.


Is it possible to sell real estate prior to filing for bankruptcy in California?

It is definitely possible to do so, but you should not list property for sale or sell it before you obtain the advice of a bankruptcy attorney.