Laura Houle Real Estate Services


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Common Sense Land Use Touted 0

Posted on October 11, 1998 by laura
Laura Houle
Realtor’s Corner (The Daily Californian newspaper)
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
— Article XIV of the U.S. Constitution

I cannot believe anyone would propose such a law as Proposition B! This proposition proposes to limit the size of rural properties to 40 and 80 acres, regardless of the topography of any other factor that is currently considered when planning or building. This proposition does nothing short of rob landowners of their rights without any redeeming or apparent benefit to anyone. Proposition B does not lesson traffic in the cities, nor does it provide any water for the cities.

It has been said that voters, in general, really do no care about anyone’s property rights. In fact, landowners are perceived as wealthy people who do not deserve to be considered at all! When one invests in land, a lot of research goes into it. What is the zoning? What is the General Plan?

If the use of this land is taken away today, what about your house tomorrow? Do not forget that some of the parcels of land have houses on them and the passage of this proposition would limit that person’s right to do whta he had the right to do when he bought it! What if I decided I wanted five feet of the perimeter of your property and that of your neigbors’ so that I could make it into a horse trail for anyone who would want to use it? Does that sound preposterous? San Diego Country Estates was developed that way, but people knew it when they bought it. That’s fair! The first scenario is not.

Some proponents of Proposition B choose inappropriate and inciteful words when explaining their position; they say our beautiful back country will be overrun by “rampant growth” and “shopping malls” if we do not pass their proposal. This could never happen.

There are not enough people in those areas, nor would there ever be, to support any such development. There is no sewer or city water. The cost to bring those improvements in would preclude significant development.

There is very little flat land. Some of it, especially the land bordering the Cleveland National Forest, is extremely steep. It will not support commercial farming. It is suitable for 20-acre parcels, which a person might farm for their own use and enjoyment.

Much of this land is so remote it is not even seen by the public, yet the owners — who will be expected to continue paying taxes on the land — would see its value depreciated by this proposition that hides under the beautiful words of “Save Our Rural Heritage and Watershed.”

Proponents bemoan the loss of the orange groves of the 1940s that subsequently gave way to development. Well, where would our people be living today if the orange groves I remember on Pepper Drive in El Cajon were still there? Some of you would not be in your current homes.

If you look around, you will find that there are new orange groves springing up in various areas. Actually, the marketplace is the determining factor of growth and of type of growth. Housing growth will continue, but it will not be in our mountain area, which is the area singled out in this proposition. We must focus our energies on transportation and building the highways to support the populace.

I find it ironic that Duncan McFeteridge, the man behind Prop. B, enjoys living on a 2-acre plot in Descanso. The truth of it is, many years have passed since anyone could live on a 2-acre parcel in his area. Each rural community has a planning group and its input is given to the county. These groups also develop community plans that can override zoning.

Land use planning should be based on common sense, not emotion. Protero, Tecate, Campo, etc. could develop into nice little communities under our present planning structure, but under this initiative, forget it!

Why should our people be forced to move to Idaho or Wyoming to enjoy a 10-, 20- or 30-acre site? By the way, you should all venture out to those other states to appreciate the planning that we have here.

Leave land use planning to our Department of Planning and Land Use and the small, affected communities that have always been in the best position to protect their own interests. Please be guided by common sense when you go to the polls. Should this proposition pass, it will certainly be challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds.

Using a Sales Agent Has Advantages 0

Posted on September 13, 1998 by laura
Laura Houle
Realtor’s Corner (The Daily Californian newspaper)
So, you’ve decided to sell the house yourself — because you know it’ll save you lots of money. Trouble is, that’s what your prospective buyers will be thinking, too!

Some will figure that since you’re not paying a commission, they should be able to get your price down a bit more. Others will be like you, choosing not to avail themselves of professional help that can make their biggest (and most important) shopping experience easier by providing priceless advice.

Would you represent yourself in court? They say only a fool acts as his own lawyer.

There also are some costs you may not have considered. Besides having to advertise, which is not inexpensive, you must make yourself available at all times. How else can you show the house? You’ll have to answer all kinds of telephone calls, including some from real estate licensees who want to convince you that you’re making a big mistake.

You’ll also not get the advantages of the Multiple Listing Service. This valuable tool — which isn’t available to private parties — tells 9,000 agents who already represent people looking to make a purchase that you have a property for sale.

And when an agent lists a property, agreements negotiated by Sandicor (the real estate MLS service) also assure that the listing goes on the Internet — with only the agent’s name and telephone number. That means you get fantastic coverage without the hassle of dealing with all the people who just want to know a little more about your home before deciding whether they’re interested.

Agents also bring you the benefits of daily networking, and they regularly attend meetings where they discuss specific properties with other licenses they know, from past experience, may have clients who’d be interested.

Then there is the matter of detachment. How will you react when a prospective buyer walks through your beloved home making belittling comments? It will happen, because some people believe that’s a way to drive down the price and a few are just mean-spirited. Will you be able to keep your cool? To remain aloof, detached and impartial? To avoid rash comments or decisions based on your emotional attachment to the home?

Are you educated as to the paperwork that sellers are obligated by law to furnish? The rule today is disclosure, disclosure, disclosure — transfer disclosure, lead paint disclosure, etc. Since June, there’s been a requirement for Natural Hazards Disclosure.

Do you know what retrofits your town or city requires as a condition of sale? Do you know what is required by the State of California? Will you know how to answer all your buyer’s questions?

Some people believe, erroneously, that an escrow company can solve problems that may arise during a transaction. They do not understand that an escrow agent, in reality, is a neutral third party who takes direction from those involved in the sale; he or she is not supposed to give advice.

Real estate is one of the few professions in which people invest large amounts of time, effort and even money with no assurance they’ll ever be paid for their service. If they do not deliver, you pay no commission. One really has to love this business to put up with all the uncertainties.

The purchase and/or sale of a home is the largest and most complicated transaction most people make in their lifetimes. It is difficult under the best of circumstances and can be absolutely hellish when poorly handled.

That’s why it makes sense to spend your time and effort finding a good professional to handle your transaction — then sitting back and letting the agent do what he or she has been trained to do.

Choosing the Best Agent to Sell Your Home 0

Posted on August 30, 1998 by laura
Laura Houle
Realtor’s Corner (The Daily Californian newspaper)
Now that you have decided to sell your home, how should you select a real estate agent?

Begin by searching for an agent experienced in the residential market, as opposed to one who specializes in leasing commercial property or selling businesses.


Right after “location, location, location” comes “service, service, service”


You want to establish rapport with the agent, to feel that you can trust him or her. It is absolutely essential that you feel comfortable in this relationship.

Ask for references. Do others feel this agent is capable? How do those in related businesses (escrow, title, etc.) feel about the agent? When you are given references, take the time to call those people and ask questions.

Look at the agent’s background. What kind of education has he or she had? any special designations, awards or other recognition?

Do not make the mistake of selecting an agent just because he or she will accept a reduced commission to obtain the listing. You get what you pay for, and no one gets a dime until the property is sold.

Real estate agents work out of all types and sizes of offices: Small, medium, large and even one-person offices. Bells and whistles are great, but remember that you are putting yourself and your property into the hands of just one person — the listing agent. This is the person who controls your listing, deals directly with you, and represents you under all circumstances. You want to be sure the agent is hard-working and dedicated.

Does this person know how to solve problems? Many times things come up during an escrow that could interfere with the successful closing of the transaction. An experienced agent can usually overcome these obstacles.

When you do list your property, listen to the advice of your agent when pricing the property. An agent has comparable sales that can be analyzed to determine the best price for your property. Do not deliberately overprice. You will lose many potential buyers. They may be long gone when you finally reduce the price.

You may want to know the difference between a Realtor and a real estate licensee. All Realtors are real estate licensees but not all real estate licensees are Realtors. A Realtor is a member of a trade organization that adheres to a special code of ethics and strives for professionalism in the industry. Some issues that develop between real estate agents and customers may involve practices that are unethical, though not illegal. The Realtor has a venue in which these issues can be settled.

The Realtor is pretty up to date on legislation that affects the industry through his or her affiliation with both national and state associations. Realtors also have access to a “legal hotline” that enables them to quickly obtain opinions about questions of law that may develop about a transaction that is being or has been negotiated. Belonging to a trade organization that fosters professional growth and provides the tools, services and products to achieve this goal shows a willingness and a seriousness to be the best that one can be.

In most businesses the recipe for success is service, price and quality. A real estate licensee is successful if the recipe is service, service, service! Service in dealing with the consumer, service in marketing the product, and service in successfully closing the transaction. In many cases, that service will continue long after the transaction and the agent will be called on the next time a real estate professional is needed.

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