Do Not List Your Home in the MLS

Off MLS Listings House For Sale

Off-MLS Listing Q&A

The Pros and Cons of Off-MLS Listings:

What Consumers and Real Estate Agents Should Know

While not a new concept for veteran real estate agents, the terms “off-MLS” or “pocket” listings may be an unfamiliar phrase to many consumers and some newer agents. Home sellers and agents should nevertheless be aware that the practice can adversely affect their goal of getting the best price reasonably possible for their homes. As many as 10-15 percent of homes offered for sale today are “off-MLS” listings, according to one Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

If you’re considering selling your home, think about the advantages and disadvantages of pocket listings.

What is an “off-MLS” listing?

Simply stated, an off-MLS or pocket listing is a property that is marketed without the benefit of being listed for sale on the MLS (i.e., “hidden” in an agent’s pocket). A property that is listed on the MLS has the advantage of being actively marketed to every real estate agent who belongs to that MLS and, through those agents, to their vast network of potential buyers looking to make an offer to purchase the property. Active marketing on the MLS usually includes open houses, broker tours and inclusion of seller’s property in the MLS’s download to various real estate Internet sites commonly used to search for properties.

On the other hand, as the term implies, an off-MLS listing generally is marketed by a single agent to one or a select few potential buyers. The marketing pool can be so small that in some cases, other agents within the same brokerage or brokerage office may not even be aware that a fellow agent has an off-MLS listing.

Are off-MLS listings illegal?

It depends. They are not illegal if the listing agent fully discloses the pros and cons to the home seller and follows rules that are designed to protect consumers. Nevertheless, many real estate professionals believe that off-MLS listings may not be in the best interest of the property owner – particularly if a client does not know about the benefits of marketing his or her property through the MLS. To keep a listing off the MLS, a listing agent who is a participant of an MLS is required, under the rules of most California MLSs, to obtain a signed certification from the seller that he or she does not wish to sell the property via the MLS.

Why would a home seller agree to an off-MLS listing?

Off-MLS listings sometimes are requested by celebrities, judges, prosecutors, or others who wish to maintain their privacy and/or limit viewing of their property to a select individual or individuals with the financial wherewithal to purchase.

Are there reasons a home seller should avoid an off-MLS listing?

Yes. Most importantly, an off-MLS listing generally does not get the broad market exposure that a property listed on the MLS gains. That can significantly reduce the number of potential offers to purchase that a property seller may receive – an important consideration at a time when multiple offers above the asking price are commonplace in many neighborhoods. A recent survey of San Francisco Bay Area real estate agents conducted by MLS Listings, Inc. revealed that 74 percent of respondents believe an off-MLS listing decreases the chance a seller will obtain the highest and best price for his or her property.

Off-MLS listings also may impact real estate values on a larger scale. Property price evaluations completed on behalf of mortgage lenders – more commonly known as “appraisals” and a vital precursor to a homebuyer obtaining a mortgage loan – may be affected in communities where there are a significant number of homes being offered as off-MLS listings. That’s because not all off-MLS listings are entered into the MLS database once a property is sold. Without this critical information, it is more difficult for real estate agents and their sellers to determine a listing price, for agents and their buyers to decide how much to offer for a property, and for appraisers to determine the current market value of a property.

What should I do if an agent approaches me with an offer to sell my home as an off-MLS listing?

Ask your agent about the pros and cons of selling your home off-MLS. One advantage is that your listing remains private if you wish to maintain privacy. However, a disadvantage is your home may not be exposed to the full population of available buyers, which means there may be less competition among fewer buyers, resulting in a lower selling price.

If you decide to list your home off-MLS, your agent may ask you to sign a standard seller exclusion form (Seller Instruction to Exclude Listing from the MLS or C.A.R. Form SEL). Be sure you fully understand what you are signing and the adverse consequences outlined in the form of not listing your property on the MLS.

And you may want to tell your agent that even if your home is not on the MLS, you want your agent to show and present all offers from both inside and outside his or her network.

Diego Loya is a REALTOR® with Home Living Real Estate Brokerage


City Inspection for a Real Estate Sale


Some Southern California Cities Require A Pre-Sale Inspection, A Report Or Both!

Whether selling or buying a home, it is well to learn if the jurisdiction in which the property is located requires that representatives of that jurisdiction (invariably cities; counties usually do not do this) must enter and inspect the property before close of escrow.

The practice, almost unknown 10 years ago, is becoming widespread. In certain cities, an inspection is not carried out provided certain forms have been completed and signed by real estate agents or others. In many cases, a city report is required.

So, if you’re buying (or selling, responsibility is on the seller) in any of these cities, know that there will be city intervention of some sort.

CAUTION: just because a city is not on the following list does NOT mean that there is no inspection requirement. Ask City Hall!


Los Angeles ( *) (Form RPR-9)


Manhattan Beach

Beverly Hills



Monterey Park


Newport Beach



Culver City


El Monte

Palos Verdes Estates

El Segundo



Port Hueneme

Hawaiian Gardens

Rancho Palos Verdes

Hermosa Beach

Rolling Hills Estates

Huntington Park

San Diego


San Marino


Santa Monica

Laguna Beach

Signal Hill


Thousand Oaks



Long Beach

Westlake Village

Each city has its own set of rules: some merely require a form to be completed and signed, others require that a City Inspector examine the property and improvements and create a list of items to be corrected. All charge a fee.


(*) The City of Los Angeles has more than 40 designated community names that are NOT cities in their own right. Los Angeles Report-Inspection rules apply to these areas. The best known are: Hollywood, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey (some portions are County area not subject to the City’s rules), Van Nuys, Venice, Westchester, San Pedro, Wilmington, Northridge, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Studio City, North Hollywood, Sylmar, Sunland, Tujunga, Eagle Rock and Highland Park. There are many others.

DISCLAIMER: Compiled as a guide for real estate practitioners from sources believed to be reliable but not definitive. Information subject to change per city or community.

Real Estate Sale Contract Basics

The Law Of Contracts – A Few Basics

There’s an old proverb that says “In California, if it ain’t in writin’, it ain’t real estate’.

The Statute of Frauds in the State says that all real estate undertakings must be reduced to writing. The real estate industry, via its Trade Association, the California Association of Realtors, has evolved a series of several hundred documents that cover virtually every contingency that might arise from a short term lease to the purchase of a multi-unit high rise.

But there is a small body of underlying rules that govern any of the contracts that might be created. Briefly, those rules are these:

To be binding on the parties, a contract must:

– Be for a lawful purpose
– Have consideration (usually we mean money in exchange for a house)
– Be mutually agreeable (called “mutuality”: everyone signs agreeing to everything)

Also, there is a little known corollary to this which has to do with bringing a binding contract into existence. The offer must be:

– Presented
– Accepted
– Delivered

When an offer is prepared fully, completely and can be said truly to represent the Buyer’s wishes, it is signed by the Buyer and presented to the Seller, usually through a listing agent. After a Seller reviews an offer one of three things happens:

– The Seller rejects the offer outright
– The Seller makes a counter offer
– The Seller accepts the offer as written

If the response is a Seller-signed acceptance, that acceptance must be delivered to the Buyer or, if another party (usually a brokerage) is designated, then to the alternate party. UNTIL AN OFFER (OR A COUNTER OFFER OR SERIES OF COUNTER OFFERS) IS DELIVERED, NO CONTRACT CAN COME INTO EXISTANCE.

Also, here are two additional, seldom considered, twists on the law of contracts:

When an agent, whether representing buyer or seller, presses the principal to make a decision and to respond, there is another element: time. Most offers and counter offers carry a three day limit after which they are void.

When an offer is presented and the Seller wishes to make a counter offer concerning any part of the original offer, the original offer is no longer “good”, that is, the creation of the counter offer automatically relieves the Buyer of an obligation to continue with the contract unless the Buyer signs the Seller’s counter offer.

Proposition 60 And 90 And Tax Transfer

Proposition 60 And 90 And Tax Transfer For Those 55 And Older

Proposition 60 allows any seller of seller-occupied real property who is 55 years or older at the time of sale to transfer the property tax of the sold property to any other property intended as the seller-turned-buyer’s principal residence to the new residence.


1. The new residence is in the same county as the residence that was sold.
2. The purchase price of the new property is less than the selling price of the property sold.

Proposition 90 allows the same privilege of property transfer to another county provided that the county to which the prior tax is being transferred has opted to accept that transfer.

Counties which have adopted a Proposition 90 ordinance:


Santa Clara

El Dorado

San Diego

Los Angeles

San Mateo




San Bernardino

Seller Financing, What is it?


Seller Financing (So-Called “Seller Cadrries”)


So-called “Seller Carries” are getting to be more common as landlords or empty nesters age and want out. The advantages, generally, are these:

– The Seller may get a slightly higher price.

– Although the interest on the note is taxable, it is additional income for the life of the note.

– It may enable a sale that would otherwise be difficult because of the Buyer’s position with a conventional lender.


Some rules of thumb if the Seller is to carry the entire loan:

– To protect the Seller, there should be a fairly good down payment, 20% minimum, 30% preferred.

– The Seller carried note must be secured by an immediately-recorded deed of trust.

– The Seller must be a named insured on both the fire/liability and the title insurance policies.

– The Buyer must provide full credit and employment history as well as references.

A bit easier if the Seller is carrying a note for partial value (say 10%), Buyer 10% down, bank 80%:

Same rules regarding a note and an immediately recorded deed of trust.

– Same rules about insurance: Seller must be completely covered

– Seller may not need so stringent a credit check since the lender is giving 80% L.T.V.

– The structure of the note/deed must be done using the CAR Form SFA (Seller Financing Addendum).

The Seller Financing Addendum

– The “originator” of the loan is supposed to prepare the SFA and, by definition, that is the Selling Broker/Agent.

– Few brokers, let alone agents, know of or how to complete an SFA; be certain the creator of the document knows what he/she is doing.

– If the Buyer has used a first deed loan as partial payment and the Seller’s note is a second, it must run for the life of the first (Dodd-Frank January 2014)

– The Selling Agent has an obligation to provide credit/income history, etc., Listing Agent is obligated to see that this is done!

The downside for the seller:

– The Buyer may not make the monthly payments

– The Buyer may default on the first loan to the bank

– The Buyer may fail to pay taxes or insurance premiums.


The upside for the seller:

– The payout over a term of years may favorably effect the Seller’s capital gain

– The majority of buyer/borrowers refinance within about seven years, so the note may not run to 30 years.

– The property has already been bought and 90% paid for; if compelled to foreclose, the Seller stands to make still further appreciation

What is a Seller’s Affidavit in a Real Estate Transaction


Seller’s Affidavit Of Non-Foreign Status And Qualified Substitute

Both the Federal Government and the State of California want to know if a seller of real property is a foreign national and, in the case of the State, if the seller will live in California. Reason: you guessed it, they want capital gains taxes if they are due following the sale of a principal residence and even investment property.

A form was created many years ago on which appear a number of questions of which a Seller must answer no more than two. The form is termed Seller’ Affidavit of Non-Foreign Status. Both State and Federal law require that it be signed by the Seller of a principal residence. One problem with the form is that it calls for the insertion of the Seller’s Social Security number. It is fair to say that such a form, passing as it does from Seller to agent to agent’s Managing Broker and occasionally from there to a lending or title institution, the Social Security number can be in danger of falling into the wrong hands. Since the laws require the inclusion of the Social Security number in the Affidavit, but the Affidavit is prospectively insecure, a second form was created: the Qualified Substitute form.

A Seller is wise to sign the Affidavit (required) and the Qualified Substitute form. A Qualified Substitute in general practice is an escrow holder. The escrow holder will, in the course of interviewing a Seller, obtain and retain the appropriate Social Security number.

As with so many circumstances in which a second document has been created to correct a shortcoming in the first, there has been confusion about whether the Qualified Substitute may be used on its own and the Affidavit ignored. The answer as been a resounding “NO”.

It is possible that a sophisticated escrow holder will, when securing the Social Security number from a Seller will also provide that Seller with the multiple-choice questions asked of the Affidavit, but such escrow holders are the exception, not the rule.

Since the laws requiring the Affidavit are directed at the Seller and the Seller only, ordinary prudence suggests that you should tell your agent that you wish to sign both documents, leaving the Social Security number off of the Affidavit.

4 Things to Consider When Deciding to Sell Your Home

Planning to sell your home is a big task. You want to make sure you have all the right information and are working with a qualified real estate agent that will properly guide you through the selling process. Below are 4 things to consider to making your home sale a success.

1. How Do I Choose an Agent?

When you are preparing to sell your property, it is well to interview at least two real estate professionals, although three will give a better overall view of the market place.

Often friends, fellow workers or family will recommend an agent. Look online, read reviews, visit their website and google search their name.

You should meet with them at your home. Walk through the entire property, inside and out. Point out any significant “pluses” and “minuses” as well as general condition. Discuss specific observed matters with each agent interviewed and remember to ask questions!

2. What’s Your Property Worth?

The easy approach is to look online at auto-estimated property values but they are usually incorrect and can vary greatly. It is best to contact a real estate agent that will give the best value using actual sold data from homes around you and their professional expertise on how much you can sell your home for. Here are things to look for when talking to an agent about your home value.

Questions to ask:

  • Did the agent obtain a Property Profile from a title company?
  • Do the data abstracted from the Profile (square footage; lot size; bed- and bathroom count) reflect the Seller’s property?
  • Has the agent determined the number and value of the trust deed loan(s)
  • Has the agent prepared a Comparative Market Analysis (“CMA”) using an automated program?
  • Has the agent derived truly comparable information? Do they follow these criteria:
  • Properties that have closed escrow in the past three months?
  • Properties that are listed for sale?
  • Properties that were listed but expired during the past three months?
  • Finally, with respect to the CMA, did the agent explain its origins and the significance of the findings?
  • Chose your real estate agent as you would any other professional: do they appear able to serve your needs?

3. What Documents Will I Need to Sign?

The quick answer is “a whole lot”! There are many and their numbers grow with each year.
Your agent should use documents designed and provided by the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.). These forms are available to all agents who are members of C.A.R. and are designed to provide you with the utmost legal and financial protection.

Here are some of the questions that you should ask:

  • Did the agent derive the documents from the “ZipForm” platform (thus assuring that they are of the most recent issue)
  • Will the agent be providing you with a Forms Checklist so that you may determine which forms you will be signing (not all forms are needed for all listings)
  • As you proceed through the document signing process, is the agent explaining the meaning of each of the forms you are being asked to sign?

4. Where Do I go Next?

You are legally and morally entitled to have each item on each page explained and to have a copy of every document that you sign. There can be no oral agreement between you and the agent that is enforceable. Real estate transactions, the listing contract and the purchase contract that arises from it must be in writing and all parties (in the case of a listing, you and the agent) must agree in writing what the terms and conditions are to be. Real estate commissions are fully negotiable, the price at which the property is listed is your decision to make.

It’s your home that’s being sold: ask questions, state your position and work with your agent!

Escrow Terms – Real Estate Must Knows

Happy faceNow you’re happy that your finally in escrow. Smooth sailing ahead but suddenly you find out that there is a lot of paperwork to sign and the escrow officer and title company are using words you’ve never heard of. When you look at the paperwork to sign, there’s a lot of words you’re not sure what they mean. You are not alone.

I want to make it easy on you and give you the main terms that are used in a real estate transaction. I put them in a list below. If you have any other terms that are not on the list, just let me know and I’ll define and explain it to you.

Amendment – A change—either to alter, add to, or correct—part of an agreement without changing the principal idea or essence.

Appraisal – An estimate of value of property resulting from analysis of facts about the property; an opinion of value.

Assumption – Taking over another person’s financial obligation; taking title to a parcel of real property with the Buyer assuming liability for paying an existing note secured by a deed of trust against the real property.

Beneficiary – The recipient of benefits, often from a deed of trust; usually the lender.

Close of Escrow – Generally the date the documents are recorded and title passes from Seller to Buyer. On this date, the Buyer becomes the legal owner, and title insurance becomes effective.

Comparable Sales – Sales that have similar characteristics as the subject real property, used for analysis in the appraisal. Commonly called “comps.”

Deed of Trust – An instrument used in many states in place of a mortgage.

Deed Restrictions – Limitations in the deed to a parcel of real property that dictate certain uses that may or may not be made of the real property.

Earnest Money Deposit – Down payment made by a purchaser of real property as evidence of good faith; a deposit or partial payment.

Easement – A right, privilege or interest limited to a specific purpose that one party has in the land of another.

Hazard Insurance – Real estate insurance protecting against fire, some natural causes, vandalism, etc., depending upon the policy. Buyer often adds liability insurance and extended coverage for personal property.

Impounds – A trust type of account established by lenders for the accumulation of borrower’s funds to meet periodic payments of taxes, mortgage insurance premiums and/or future insurance policy premiums, required to protect their security.

Legal Description – A description of land recognized by law, based on government surveys, spelling out the exact boundaries of the entire parcel of land. It should so thoroughly identify a parcel of land that it cannot be confused with any other.

Lien – A form of encumbrance that usually makes a specific parcel of real property the security for the payment of a debt or discharge of an obligation. For example, judgments, taxes, mortgages, deeds of trust.

Mortgage – The instrument by which real property is pledged as security for repayment of a loan.

PITI – A payment that combines Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.

Power of Attorney – A written instrument whereby a principal gives authority to an agent. The agent acting under such a grant is sometimes called an “Attorney-in-Fact.”

Purchase Agreement – The purchase contract between the Buyer and Seller. It is usually completed by the real estate agent and signed by the Buyer and Seller.

Quitclaim Deed – A deed operating as a release, intending to pass any title, interest, or claim which the grantor may have in the property, but not containing any warranty of a valid interest or title by the grantor.

Recording – Filing documents affecting real property with the County Recorder as a matter of public record.

Wishing you a smooth real estate sale!!

How Can I Improve My Brea Real Estate Photography?

cameraPhotography can make or break a home sale or purchase. Luckily, there are several things you can do to improve your Brea real estate photos. According to an article from, these are some things you should keep in mind while snapping pictures of your home:

  • Focus on the important details: Make sure your real estate photos highlight the best parts of your property. Be selective by avoiding photographs that don’t immediately draw the viewer’s attention. Try to remove clutter from your photos and only include items which make your house more attractive.

  • Use the right photography equipment: SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses work best (and are becoming increasingly more affordable). A wide-angle, 24mm lens should be used for exterior photos of your home.

  • Pay attention to lighting: Take bright, sunny photos using interior lights, a flash or natural lighting. Use a flash to avoid “burned-out” window lighting.

  • Keep your photos updated: Always try to keep your home listing looking new. Update your listing regularly with seasonal photos to keep buyers interested.

  • Showcase your entire house: Take photos of every room in your house, including the kitchen, living room, dining room, family room, bedrooms and backyard.

  • Find a professional: When all else fails, find a professional photographer to take your home photos. Professionals will have the best camera technology and will make sure your photos stand out from the crowd.

I would love to help you find Brea real estate that fits your needs. Please contact me to set up a tour of any of the great Brea homes available on my site.