Market Wise Q&A: Asking Questions to Understand Your Real Estate Transaction


Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News

Q: We are close to finishing the selling of our townhouse while purchasing in a house in the nearby city.  My husband owned our townhouse before we met so I felt he was familiar with dealing with the sale of a home.  In the past few days, and at my wits-end, I left work early twice to meet with the real estate agents and was appalled at their lack of educating us with the issues that seem to keep popping up. My husband nods he understands when he does not and gets upset when I ask so many questions.  Why am I still struggling to understand what is going on when we hired these people to guide us?


A: It’s very simple, they let you down, due to the fact they are unable or unwilling to advise you every step of the way.  We see it in every area of our lives. We pay people to teach us, guide us and “sell” us, and while that person we engaged might be proficient at a particular skill, craft, trade or service, they cannot adequately explain any or all of the needed information to the layperson.  One wonders if these “professionals” we hired misinterpreted the term “dumbing down.”  That phrase is meant to reduce the complicated to the simple, versus having consumers leaving meetings with one of these paid-advisors, feeling “dumber” than when they arrived.


In California, the agent “is expected to perform the necessary research and investigation in order to know those important matters that will affect the principal’s decision.”  It gets better as it continues with the non-stop “duty to counsel and advise the principal regarding the propriety and ramifications of the decision.” The judge who wrote this added in the plainest language possible  “the broker must put himself in the positions of the principle and ask himself the types of information required for the principle to make a well-informed decision.”  The judge understood and you now well know that with all the moving parts of a real estate transaction, let alone two at once, decisions are many.  Laypeople have to astutely insist that the people we have paid to guide don’t repeatedly get us lost.  

Market Wise column 1-4-2015


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In 2014, Pat was the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors “President’s Choice” Award Winner.For demonstrating the principles of good real estate practice among brokers; for promoting and protecting home ownership and property rights for all; and for distinguished service to the members of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and the community at large.”



Pat Kapowich's  "President's Choice" Award