Supreme Court Rules on Dual Agency

For the first time in history, homebuyers are deliberately creating dual agency situations as many refuse to work with anyone but the listing salesperson. The thinking being that they may get a better deal working with the listing salesperson when actually they may be creating a possible conflict of interest. How can the listing salesperson negotiate the best deal for you when their fiduciary obligations are to the seller?

In 2016, a surprising trend emerged almost everywhere in the country. When buyers call about a listing that is unavailable or unsuitable for their needs, they have no interest in hearing about other properties – instead agents are constantly hearing the refrain: “We’ll just contact the listing agent directly.” This shift is just another sign that clients have not been educated about the benefits of having a fiduciary relationship with their buyer’s agent.

In Horiike v. Coldwell Banker, the California State Supreme Court ruled that for in-house deals, that the agency (Coldwell Banker and its respective salespersons in the transaction) had a fiduciary duty to both the seller and the buyer. This ruling could limit the ability of large firms to do in-house deals, raise transaction costs due to increased litigation and force agents to disclose “sensitive information about the client’s motivations or the salesperson’s personal beliefs to the other side of the transaction. Sadly, agents divulge this type of information all the time.

Couple this with pocket listings, lax agent attitudes toward dual agency issues, and a recent California Supreme Court decision changing dual agency requirements in that state, and you have a perfect storm that could fundamentally transform how Realtors conduct their businesses. Realtors refer to themselves as agents, but when it comes to the agency law, the brokerage is the “agent,” not the individual salesperson.

The best way to avoid agency issues is to ask, “Whom are you advocating for and what are your legal obligations in terms of what you can and cannot disclose?” Most real estate attorneys believe the solution to the dual agency issue is to work with a buyer’s agent exclusively.

Santa Barbara Film Festival 2017

2SBFilmFestivalPoster2017 The 32nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival  poster celebrates architecture and it’s link to cinema. This year’s poster was created by Barbara Boros and Bob Blackwell.

This year’s celebrity attendees include Denzel Washington, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Jeff Bridges, Casey Affleck, Isabelle Huppert, and Michelle Williams. For a complete list of special events, galas, films, free screenings, panels, and educational programs click here: Santa Barbara Film Festival 2017 Program

Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Trends

Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Trends through December for 2016. This graph was prepared by Fidelity Title Company in Santa Barbara. This year is reflected by the thicker purple line with diamonds. The green line reflects 2015, where in May of 2015, it appears the southern Santa Barbara real estate market most peaked based on the number of homes sold for that month. The light purple line reflects 2013 which shows the highest number of sales per month going back to 2010. The graph reflects the number of sales for that month for southern Santa Barbara. (Carpinteria to Goleta) Click on image to enlarge.

2017 Housing Market Predictions

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Recently Zillow jumped in with six predictions for next year’s housing market, touching on some of the more nuanced factors that influence who will be buying and selling homes next year, where they’ll be focused and what challenges they stand to face.  Speculation also brought up the potential effect of Trump’s hard-line immigration plans on construction industry labor — and its expectations for America’s historically low homeownership rate.  The 2017 predictions:

1.      “Cities will focus on denser development of smaller homes close to public transit and urban centers.”

2.      “More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.”

3.      “Rental affordability will improve as incomes rise and growth in rents slows.”

4.      “Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages, which could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump.”

5.      “The percentage of people who drive to work will rise for the first time in a decade as homeowners move further into the suburbs seeking affordable housing — putting them further from adequate public transit options.”

6.      “Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values have risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.”

Jeff Bridges Reduces Asking Price of Montecito Home

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Oscar winner Jeff Bridges recently cut $5 million more off the asking price of his estate in Montecito. It’s now available for $18.5 million. It was originally listed for $29.5 million.

The Tuscan-style property is drop-dead gorgeous with mountain and ocean views. The main house is 9,500 square feet with lavish hallways, soaring and exposed wood-beam ceilings, and a private tower/study that opens to a rooftop terrace. There’s a master suite, three en suite bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and a four-car garage.

The estate also includes a one-bedroom guest cottage, a two-bedroom caretaker’s cottage, and a swimming pool. The19.5-acre property also boasts a sculpted fountain, walking path, fruit orchard, and Italian cypress trees. A stately, iron gate rests between two pillars at the property’s entrance. (Image from Realtor.com)

California Real Estate still a Hot Commodity!

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Miramar Beach in Montecito by local artist Chris Potter

Demand for U.S. real estate remains strong this holiday season and appears poised to carry over into 2017, with California and Bay Area cities again ruling the list of the nation’s most sought-after housing markets.

That’s according to Realtor.com’s latest monthly analysis of the nation’s 20 hottest housing markets based on the number of listing views on its website and the fewest average days on market. Nationwide, the median list price held steady at $250,000 for the fourth consecutive month and marks a new high for November. Prices are up 9 percent from one year ago while inventory is down by 11 percent. Realtor.com projects that the average U.S. home will spend 82 days on the market in November.

As in the previous two months, the San Francisco metro area ranks as the hottest American housing market in November, with homes selling in an average of 40 days. The median list price in the region is $825,000, nearly unchanged from October and up 6.6 percent from Realtor.com’s November 2015 hot-markets report.

Golden State cities again account for 11 of 20 markets on the list, rounded out by San Diego (No. 6), Stockton (No. 7), Sacramento (No. 11), Santa Rosa (No. 13), Fresno (No. 14), Modesto (No. 15), Los Angeles (No. 18), and Oxnard (No. 19). The latter two cities returned to the list after dropping off in October, replacing Eureka and Santa Cruz.

Realtor. com’s Manager of Economic Research Javier Vivas said that though he expects this fall’s busy activity to carry over into 2017, the interest-rate increases that have followed in the wake of the U.S. presidential election could pose a challenge. According to Freddie Mac, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.03 percent for the week ended Nov 23., up on both a weekly and annual basis and marking the first time this year that interest rates have climbed above 4 percent.

Is Zillow Good or Bad for the Real Estate Industry

Some of the good things: 

  • Provides greater listing exposure to millions of consumers.
  • The addition of tax records, school ratings and other information to listings is good for consumers and makes the agents’ job easier.
  • Levels the playing field for newer agents and agents without many listings.
  • Gives consumer access to FSBOs, foreclosures and other non agent represented properties, painting a fuller picture of the available market.
  • Creates a new, broadly reaching, advertising platform for agents to advertise their skills.

Some of the bad things : 

  • A high percentage of their “available” listings are actually sold or off the market. This confuses and upsets consumers and makes agents look bad.
  • The sites’ property valuations are often way off, making agents’ jobs harder.
  • Promotes non-listing agents alongside listings that aren’t theirs, tricking consumers into believing they know the property.
  • Sells to any agent, regardless of experience, the title of “Premier” or “Pro”.
  • The “leads” generated for subscribing agents are low quality, non-responsive and a waste of time.
  • The cost of being a subscribing agent is too high for what you get.
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Fiesta! “Old Spanish Days” in Santa Barbara

“Old Spanish Days” is Santa Barbara’s largest celebration and one of the top regional festivals in the United States. It is expected to attract more than 100,000 people this year, making it one of the biggest to date.

This year “Fiesta!” will take place in various locations around the city August 3rd through the 7th.

This celebration of community fondly looks back to a period when Santa Barbara was a remote rural area under the influences of Spanish, Mexican, and local Native American cultures. Fiesta celebrates a period of romance and hospitality through pageantry, dance, music, custom, and cusine. (photo below is of the brochure for the Santa Barbara Fiesta 2016)

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