Gary Weiss, CPA and host, interviews Katherine Stark | Realtor at Coldwell Banker Realty.
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The Echelon Radio Network presents the Tax Matters radio podcast. A conversation about money for everyone with your host Gary Weiss.
Gary Weiss 0:20
Welcome seekers of truth, justice and the Echelon way to another exciting and info JAM PACKED session of the Echelon Tax Matters Specialty Group podcast. Today, I’m your guide on our version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Gary Weiss, licensed CPA since 1996. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how long that’s been. I practice in Woodland Hills with my partner, Quinton Staples. I also specialize in tax resolution services. Hence my tagline “I fight the fascist state of California and the evil empire known as the IRS.” Today’s amazing, incredible, knowledgeable and successful guest is Katherine Stark from Coldwell Banker. Katherine, welcome to the podcast.
Katherine Stark 1:05
Well, thank you very much, Gary, thank you so much for having me.
Gary Weiss 1:08
Oh, we’re this is going to be fun. Let’s start out with for our listeners and telling them a little bit about you your background, where you were started out, how you became a realtor, how you work, but just let us know a little bit about you as a person.
Katherine Stark 1:22
Okay, well, I grew up here in the San Fernando Valley lived in Woodland Hills almost all of my life. And my dad was actually a commercial broker. I never really had an interest in commercial real estate, but I love houses. So when I when we would go on our trips back east, our family all lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The old houses just drew me I love the attics, I love the basements. I love the architecture. And so as I grew older and decided I was just looking for a career that could really be, you know, really be an interesting career to me. And one of the things about it is every day is different, and every transaction is different. And there’s just a lot of fun to it. So not only do I get to be in a lot of houses, and you know, feed my architectural desires. But I also get to be around a lot of people.
Gary Weiss 2:19
So when you were a little kid, it’s just what you wanted to be was a realtor?
Katherine Stark 2:22
When I was a little kid, I just had a strong interest in houses, I didn’t really want to be a realtor. In fact, I never really wanted there really, I really didn’t know what I wanted to be. Until, you know, I was in my probably late 20s. So I started a family very early, got married early had kids are really, you know, my dad was always trying to get me to sell commercial real estate, which I had no desire to do. But I had this interest in houses. So that’s where I headed.
Gary Weiss 2:52
So tell us how long you’ve been married, how many kids you have?
Katherine Stark 2:55
I’ve been married a long time, a long, long time. I don’t want to say the number because then you’ll start adding up my age. And I don’t want to do that.
Gary Weiss 3:02
Katherine Stark 3:03
But I do have two adult children and I have grandchildren. So I have three grand, three grandchildren that range from one years old to nine and a half. And then I have a grandson who’s 20.
Gary Weiss 3:14
Those are the best ones when you can say here. I’m done. Return it.
Katherine Stark 3:17
Gary Weiss 3:18
Absolutely. So that’s really good. So when you bet you went into real real becoming a realtor, and what did you what’s changed since when you first started? And how did it evolve to where you are now?
Katherine Stark 3:31
Oh my god, there is there are so many changes. So I got licensed in 1987. So I’ve been doing this a long time. I’m a double zero. So what that means is my license number is 00947256. And so every once in a while one of the young kids will come up to me and say, oh my goodness for double zero. That’s kind of cool. But anyway, when I got into the business that I believe the contract was only two pages. No one knew what the internet was, you know? And, you know, the disclosures now, I mean, there are just so many changes, I can’t even begin to, you know, to tell you real estate, I mean, I was selling real estate, when houses in Woodland Hills were selling for somewhere around 150,000 to 300. And now you know, they’re selling for one one to three, 4 million in Woodland Hills. So our contracts are 10 pages long. We have actually they might be even longer. I should have looked that up before I came in. Because it’s changing. It’s ever changing. We have disclosures that you know, the average layperson would have a very difficult time going through and figuring out what they need to do how they need to fill them out. So you know what I bring to the table is a vast knowledge of you know what you need to do from beginning including, you know, the marketing stage to the negotiation part of it getting getting offers and trying to get more than one offer for a client. So that starts with basically pricing it well. So the there are just so many different aspects to real estate, it’s hard to, you know, to, to start and stop.
Gary Weiss 5:17
So I’m gonna back you up a little bit. Let’s go back to 2021 during the COVID era. There were a lot of different rules, there’s different ways people could come into houses, people had to do things. Tell us how, what was it like then? And how did you deal with that and cope with that, so you could still, you know, service your clients?
Katherine Stark 5:34
Well, we were considered an essential business. And actually COVID changed quite a bit of the business. At that time, during COVID, there were only two people that were allowed into a house at one time. So our sellers, my sellers would leave the door unlocked, stand outside, before the buyer could even go into the house, they had to sign a statement saying that they had not been around anybody with COVID, they didn’t have any of the symptoms, they had to wear gloves, they had to wear shoe covers, and of course, they had to wear a mask, and they had to sign that they were going to, they’re willing to do that. So they would look at the house and their agent and the buyer themselves could be in the house. So only two people or two families basically. And you know, a lot of it was also virtual. So we would have people calling us and saying hey, can you take video, or the buyer’s agent would come in and take video for the buyer, they would buy it basically based on video. So that has changed our business quite a bit. The brick and mortar, you know, that affected so many small businesses is also affecting real estate, you know, real estate brokerages. When you walk into an office, now you might find one or two people working, whereas before it would be a full house. So they’re not working in the office anymore. They’re working outside of the office.
Gary Weiss 6:59
So for full disclosure, Katherine and I are in the same Home Group for Echelon Warner Center 1. And so I know a little bit about Catherine and there’s some we’re gonna go into a little bit about Katherine the person. A couple of things you like to travel. Tell us where you’re been. And you’re about to go on another adventure. Where are you going?
Katherine Stark 7:18
I’ve been very I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve been to London, I’ve been to Paris. I’ve been all over Italy. I’ve been to Croatia. I’ve even been to Ireland. But my most recent trip was actually to Israel. And when I’d say Israel, the people people would look at me going, you’re going to Israel, why are you going to Israel? Because people that know me know I’m Christian. And you know, when you say Israel usually think of you know, you’re not being Christian to go to Israel, they think are you going on a, you know, on a
Gary Weiss 7:55
some sort of pilgrimage,
Katherine Stark 7:56
Some sort of pilgramage. And I did actually go on a pilgrimage, a Catholic.
Gary Weiss 7:59
There are a lot of Jews in Israel.
Katherine Stark 8:01
There are a lot of Jews in Israel, which I was kind of struggling not to say but anyway, so I was in Jerusalem, and it was, you know, really just a life changing trip. So Jerusalem is the home to many, many religions. I mean, it is it’s just as much Jewish as it is, you know, Catholic, as it is Muslim as it is whatever. So, you know, I got to see the birthplace of Jesus, I got to see the death place of Jesus. I was in Nazareth, I was in Bethlehem I was in I actually floated in the Dead Sea, which was really cool. Now that is in Jordan. And I got to see Petra, which is really amazing. Petra has, it’s the city of, you know, these huge giant boulders that you’re walking down this, this gateway to a huge city. You know, so it was it was really life changing. And a very, it was a fabulous trip. And so I am heading to Greece in a few months in about a month, actually. And that will be a little bit easier. It’s not a pilgrimage. It’s just a you know, relaxing time on a ship. So that’ll be fine.
Gary Weiss 9:13
You’re taking a cruise ?
Katherine Stark 9:14
Im taking a cruise.
Gary Weiss 9:15
All you can eat. All the entertainment.
Katherine Stark 9:18
Right, right, right.
Gary Weiss 9:19
So you’re looking forward to that. And so God says, go back to Jerusalem. I just talked to a friend about the Dead Sea visas if you go, he says you have to get the mud. But there’s something about mud and then you go into the Dead Sea and you float in there. It does sound exciting. So when you were there, did you see, did you have any religious experiences or something that you were able to really connect to?
Katherine Stark 9:41
There were a lot of religious experiences. So I renewed my baptismal sacrament in you know, where Jesus was baptized.
Gary Weiss 9:53
Very cool. Very cool.
Katherine Stark 9:54
And just being where, you know the death place that there were a lot of being okay, being at the Wailing Wall was pretty significant. And that was just, you know, you just look around and you see people of every faith that you know, by the Wailing Wall praying. It just the whole thing was life changing.
Gary Weiss 10:23
It’s very old, very old,
Katherine Stark 10:25
Very old. You know, I’m wearing a cross, this cross is actually a Jerusalem cross, you can only get it in Jerusalem. And what it is, is the center of the world, the main crosses the center of the world, and all the little crosses, the four crosses on the side, are north, south, east and west, the corners, the four corners of the world. So Jerusalem is the center of the world for every religion.
Gary Weiss 10:47
Yeah. Did you go into any of the caves or tunnels I keep hearing about, there’s like, there’s a lot of stuff underground, that they’ve excavated, you know, you know, 1000s and 1000s of years old. You know, in Los Angeles, if a house is more than an hour old, it’s old here, and let’s tear it down and build up a new one, where places like the Middle East, the old is coveted, you know, let’s leave it. Let’s not touch it.
Katherine Stark 11:10
You can see into the caves. We weren’t able to get underneath, but you could see into the caves. And, you know, obviously a lot of old old buildings and architecture. So.
Gary Weiss 11:26
Very nice. Okay, another fact I know about you. I told you I was going to ask you about this. When we were improvisers. You know, that was the time in the Malibu fire that you did lose your home. And at that time, you had a Christmas ornament collection that was very old. Tell us a little bit about that. What happened to it, and where it is now?
Katherine Stark 11:45
Yeah, so we lost our home in the Woolsey fire in Bell Canyon. We lived in Bell Canyon for 15 years. But you know, being married for a very long time, we had a Christmas collection that went back several decades. And you know, not not only that, but you know, our children every year they get a new ornament. And you know, so our Christmas tree was very full. Additionally, before we lived in Bell Canyon, we lived in Candy Cane Lane. So we had all of our Christmas decorations from Candy Cane Lane. And so Christmas is very important to me. That was one of the hardest things to lose and during the fire lose all of our personal mementos. That really meant a lot to us. So our Provisors group, which I was just going to say another networking group, but since you brought that up at our Christmas party, each member gave me an ornament. And my Christmas tree is fuller than it ever was. There was also a gentleman in the group. Can I Bill Staley? He actually gave me an ornament for every year that we had been married, because him and his wife had been married the same amount of time. And so they’re all dated, you know, from
Gary Weiss 11:45
Wow, very nice.
Katherine Stark 12:06
I mean, it was
Gary Weiss 12:51
Bill Staleys. Just an absolute amazing guy and just a sweet man. Yeah, so yeah, yeah, no, I remember at the Christmas party, you went home with a carload full of Christmas ornaments. So I know that Christmas was probably very special. The tree wasn’t empty.
Katherine Stark 13:24
No, it was very full. And I take those ornaments out every year. And think of all the people that that you know, really cared enough about me to do that was really sweet.
Gary Weiss 13:32
It was it was it was it was a pleasure to be able to give them to you was really a great experience, knowing what that you’d lost everything. And here, we have an opportunity to help you start to rebuild. So now we’re going to go back to the reality world and talk about some things. So well, there are many parts to you know, buying a house. So there’s obviously buying the house, that’s straightforward. You find a house good here, I made my offer. It’s accepted. Now the game begins, there is the escrow, there is the mortgage broker, there is the you know, there’s the inspection. There’s all these other pieces that have to be done in order to get from the offer to I sign the paper and I would now I can move in. So you can tell us a little bit how as what your position as a realtor, how do you interact with the mortgage broker? How do you interact with all these other the inspector and all these other pieces?
Katherine Stark 14:20
You know, I’m very hands on and you need to be I feel like you need to be to get the transaction from A to B, you need to be involved. So the first part of it is, you know, negotiating the right price. And, you know, I do work with buyers and sellers, mostly with sellers, I have to say, but I’ve had an influx of buyers lately. I don’t know, I don’t know why. And that’s a good thing. So you have to be there for the inspection. You have to negotiate the inspection. First, you’re negotiating the sale price, then you’re negotiating the inspection. And then you’re making sure that the appraisal comes in at the right price. So you want to meet the appraiser and you want to give him the high comps, not the low comps, he can find the loan comps on his own, you need to give them a list of all the upgrades, you need to, you know, make sure that they’re my feeling is for an appraiser, their job is to bring it in at the value you sold it out. So they need to work to bring that value up and you need to help them anyway you can, then you need to be on top of it with the lenders, a new thing that is happening is lenders don’t really want to give you a full loan approval until you have a clear to close and this clear to close, doesn’t happen until like, about three days before you’re supposed to close. So then you have to nudge the buyer’s agent and the buyer to remove all contingencies, even though they don’t have full loan approval from their lender. So it is difficult and you know, with interest rates going up the way they have, you know, now interest rates are right around seven, anywhere from six, eight to 725, depending on 7.25 depending on you know how good your credit score is and how much you’re putting down. So there are many variables in that as well.
Gary Weiss 16:13
It’s amazing because my hear people go out 7% I can remember back in the 80s when they’re 18 19 20%. During during the Carter years.
Katherine Stark 16:23
Gary Weiss 16:23
So it was yeah, I remember one one time when I was working Hughes Aircraft. The one this one engineer was so proud. So happy. I got a mortgage at 18%. Wow, yeah. 18%. So yeah, lots a lots changed. Everything is relative, I believe, you know, our mutual friend, Sean Hart says, you know, you, you date you date, your interest rate and marry, you’re more, you know, marry your mortgage type thing. So they will come down or they’ll change and people will refinance. So that’s right.
Katherine Stark 16:55
I don’t see them coming down to 2.5% anytime in my lifetime, to be honest. And during COVID interest rates, my son’s at 2.65, my daughter’s at 2.7. They’re never moving, which is part of the difficulties we have right now with the market because so many people bought during COVID. As you all know, the market, the real estate was crazy. And even though every sale was higher than the last sale, the interest rates kept things so low, you know, the payments so low that you have these people that are never going to want to move.
Gary Weiss 17:33
So it sounds like by the way, from just what you talked about, you’re not really a realtor, you’re a negotiator.
Katherine Stark 17:38
You know, I’m a negotiator. I’m a psychiatrist. I mean, I wear many hats.
Gary Weiss 17:45
Do you find that people who are first time homebuyers really struggle with the concept? Oh, my God, my take on this massive loan? And you know, how am I going to do this? And if they start to get, you know, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs on you type thing?
Katherine Stark 17:57
You know, I think the hardest thing to negotiate really is the sale is the home inspection. Because what happens is, these first time buyers just mentioned them, like, you know, they’re not buying a new house, they’re buying a used house. And there are all kinds of little things that these buyers don’t want to accept. And so then you’re negotiating with the seller who already feels they’ve lowered their house enough, you know, they’ve come way down in price because, you know, prices have softened. And so that that, to me is the hardest thing. You know, they’re excited to buy the house and they’re qualified to buy the house, you know, going in or they’re not going to jump into it. You know?
Gary Weiss 18:42
Well, I hope everybody understands when you buy a used house, I don’t care how perfect it could condition is it’s still a house. Anybody who’s ever watched the movie, the money pit with Tom Hanks understands stuff goes wrong. Things need to be fixed. There’s upkeep and it’s an ongoing process. So but when you deal with the inspectors? How do you negotiate with the inspectors, so they really do a good job?
Katherine Stark 19:03
Well, you don’t really negotiate with the inspectors, you negotiate with the buyers and the sellers. The inspectors are licensed inspectors, there are people that we use time and time again, that we trust. But we do have to rely on them to you know, to have a good bedside manner. I mean, you can’t you can’t walk in and go, oh, there’s houses a dump. I mean, you know, the inspectors always have something good to say about the house first, you know, and they congratulate the buyer and then they try to make light of the issues. But the buyers they don’t they don’t see it that way they they want you know, home inspector may say well the air conditioner is at its end of life, but it’s still working. Well the buyer then wants a brand new air conditioner, you know and that’s not the way it works. You know, you’re buying a used house you’re buying you know certain things your you know, your choice is to not buy it as a buyer. You can just say I don’t want to buy it then.
Gary Weiss 20:05
Yeah. So you’re like Lucy, you set up a little booth and charge five cents to give give advice to Charlie Brown type thing? That’s right. Yeah, it sounds like you’re doing a lot of negotiating handholding, right. And then there’s the realtor portion that you sort of do on the side. That’s a good thing. So how do you deal now with that one of the big things I observed over the last several years, is that the house has to be in really good condition. You have to fix everything, paint, everything, curb appeal, things like that. So how do you work with sellers and say, you have to do this, but okay, this you can put off. Yeah, where is how do you work with that?
Katherine Stark 20:45
Oh, boy, that is a challenge. Okay, cuz, I mean, right now, I have a woman, I’ve listed her home. And she’s lived there since 1984. And I walked through the house. So another thing that I do is I help stage the house or get the house ready, You know, basically, so I walk in and I say, you need to pack up all this stuff, we need to declutter, and she goes, Oh, but I use that every day. And she just, I mean, her makeup, her, her cabinets in her bathroom are totally open and exposed to everything she has, you know, including stuff you don’t want to see, like extra boxes of toothpaste and extra boxes of, of soap. So it can be a challenge. But you know, the number one key to selling a property is pricing it right. You know, you can sell a house right by the freeway if it’s priced right. You know, that’s But to your point, Gary, yes, a home that has been updated and staged. Another property that I just listed and sold within a few days, with multiple offers had, you know, I’ve suggested you need to paint, you need to say we need to stage it. And you know, it made all the difference. And it was priced well, so it’s a combination.
Gary Weiss 22:03
How do you deal with the dead grass out in front since nobody was allowed to water their lawns and everybody’s lawns dead? how do you deal with that?
Katherine Stark 22:10
You know, we had some people painting their lawns for a while, but then that just looks so fake. I’m not seeing it as much now, you know, and a lot of relandscaping has gone on a lot of, you know, drought tolerant plants.
Gary Weiss 22:23
And so yes, sir, is going to an Arizona landscape.
Katherine Stark 22:26
Everybody’s going to an Arizona landscape. Yeah. So yeah.
Gary Weiss 22:29
So one more thing I want to talk about is multiple offers. You know, people don’t seem to understand that concept that they come in, they think, Oh, I made my offer. It’s the best one, I’m going to get this house and then all of a sudden, you come to them and say, I got some good news and some bad news. How do you deal with that?
Katherine Stark 22:45
You know, it’s hard. First of all, when I list a property, no one goes into the property until it’s actually in the MLS on the market, no potential buyers, like, you know, I have these investors that are calling me all the time. And, you know, I wouldn’t even let my own daughter put in an offer on something that I listed that I knew she wanted, because my duty is to the seller, I need to get that house on the market, I need to get it exposed, okay. And hopefully generate multiple offers, which in that case, I generated like five or six offers and she didn’t get the house and I still feel bad about it. But you know, that’s the way it is. So the pricing is key, then when you get the multiple offers, you know, you kind of have to out think everybody else, like if you’re representing the buyer, you know, if an offer if a house is listed for 1,1.299 Okay, I recently had a buyer that insisted on writing 1,350,000. And I said, Write 1,399,000 You know, write 1,400,000 oh two, you know, get over that 1,400,000 I told her you’re going to need to at least be at a 1,400,000 we ended up getting a counteroffer back in this house is in Woodland Hills, by the way by the Woodland Hills Country Club, the counter back said submit your highest and best offer but not less than 1.5. So that house sold, you know 200,000 above what it was asking. So you try to you have to out think the other agents and you have to try to advise your your buyer to come in, you know, add an an odd number like you know, 1,350,000 Okay, everybody’s gonna come in at 1,350,000 come in at 1,360,000 or 1,357,000.
Gary Weiss 24:29
Sort of like the price is right for houses
Katherine Stark 24:31
you know, yeah, yes. And I also tell my clients, it’s like you’re playing a game of poker. No one knows what the other person’s doing.
Gary Weiss 24:37
That’s true. All right. So we’re coming to our journey end of our journey here. So tell the listeners again, your name, how they get a hold of you telephone number website, you know, anything that you think is important.
Katherine Stark 24:47
Okay. My name is Katherine Stark. I’m with Coldwell Banker, Banker Realty in Calabasas. My phone number is 818-590-8847 and KatherineStark.com is my website. I have been licensed since 1987 and lived in the valley all my life so I know the San Fernando Valley like the back of my hand, as well as the Westlake, Agoura, Oak Park area, Conejo Valley as well.
Gary Weiss 25:17
Nice. Where’d you go to high school?
Katherine Stark 25:19
I went to Taft High. Go Toreadors.
Gary Weiss 25:22
Katherine Stark 25:22
Gary Weiss 25:23
Well then intrepid listeners. That’s all the time we have for today. I would like to thank my guest Katherine amazing Stark. Please look forward to future podcasts with amazing guests. Maybe not as amazing as Katherine but they’ll be amazing. I’m your conductor on this train to the last land of Echelon, Gary Weiss. I look forward to spending time with you on our next podcast which should be soon. So stay tuned. Y’all come back now. You hear.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai