Is it a good time to be a home buyer in DC? What is “flopping”? Shari Barton, of Best Address Real Estate (800-309-1980),* has been a longtime resident of Upton Street and a real estate agent for many years. In 2007, after 22 years in the business, she was nominated by then-Mayor Fenty to serve as one of nine DC Real Estate Commissioners. She has been a member of the Commission since then. Shari answers these questions as she shares why she has volunteered for this position and describes its work.
Why did you decide to become a Commissioner?
I wished to give back something to the industry and the consumers we pledge to serve.
What do you do as a Real Estate Commissioner ?
In addition to our monthly meetings when we read cases (between 12 and 20 each month) and decide on their disposition, go over the requests for licensure of agents, brokers, property managers, real estate schools, instructors and courses, we meet at other times to update regulations and pre-licensing exam questions.
How does the Commission view its responsibility to the consumer?
We take our duty to protect the consumer very seriously, and we issue fines (some hefty) to industry members who violate our statutes, regulations or code of ethics. One agent actually changed a contract by raising the purchase price without consulting the buyer who did not see the change until settlement.
What did the Commission do in this situation?
We fined him $1,500 for each of four violations.
What is the International Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO)?
It is the umbrella group for commissioners and commission staff. Over twenty countries/nation states belong to ARELLO.
Can you give me an example of an issue that has come before this group?
We were forewarned by the Montana and Texas Commission members about an unlawful practice there by real estate agents who “unstaged” properties (throwing dirt and rags inside, breaking windows etc.), then having the bank appraiser put on a low sales price; selling it to a straw, fixing it back up and putting a much higher price on for a true buyer (called “flopping”). We have not seen it here… yet!.
So what could ARELLO do to prevent this from happening here?
ARELLO helped by providing the venue (in this case at working task force meeting during the mid-year meeting) for the information to be exchanged. Later, it communicated to all other members through its newsletter.
You are presently Chair of the Global Committee of ARELLO. Who is on this Committee? What does this group do?
Two Committee members are from the Arab Emirates and two from South Africa. Exchanging information, problems and possible legislation with both national and international colleagues is helpful to all of us. We are in the process of developing a questionnaire to discover ways that ARELLO can help its global member countries/nation states.
What advice do you have for someone who is buying a house in DC?
Inventory is very low right now so I would do the research now and wait until there is a bigger supply of homes for sale in about a month.
*This information is required for anything written about a Commissioner