Realtor News

An Exclusive Interview with the 2020 CDAR Award Winners

During CDAR’s Installation event in December 2020, three people were recognized for their outstanding work in the community and with the association: Robin DuFault, the 2020 CDAR President, was awarded the esteemed REALTOR® of the Year award; Kathleen Buys was awarded the Affiliate of the Year award for a record fifth time; and Stephenie Zinn, the 2020 C.A.R. YPN Chair, was given the President’s Award. The three of them recently took some time from their busy schedules to answer a few questions and provide insight into their background, their lives and their passions.


Tell us a little bit about your background.

Robin DuFault: I’ve had a variety of jobs/opportunities in my working life, from working in film and TV to advertising to the Better Business Bureau. In Film and TV I worked as an extra and as the “stand-in” for Meredith Baxter and David Cassidy. Also, did a lot of behind the scenes as a production assistant and interned on the 3 camera TV Series “Mork and Mindy.” I wrote and produced a documentary for KNBC Los Angeles which was narrated by Ralph Waite about the effects of alcoholism on families.

Kathleen Buys: I was born and raised in San Francisco during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s! The eldest of three daughters, and my father was a 3rd generation San Franciscian, and a judge!  I moved to the desert in 1974, and raised four children here! My second husband, John Buys, owned the first men’s store on El Paseo in the ‘60’s…John Buys Menswear! I entered into the title industry in 1976 and opened Orange Coast Title in 1980, along with Derek Walker! I have managed numerous title companies in the valley, but my biggest dream was to work at First American! I saved the best until last…five years ago, my dream came true! I have received the Affiliate of the Year for CDAR over 5 times in my 45 year career! I also help start many of the committees for the board in the early ‘80’s….Scholarship, Membership, Sunshine Committee, and Community Services!

Stephenie Zinn: I’m a 3rd generation Coachella Valley native and I started my career in real estate at nineteen years old.  I earned my license eight years later in 2006 and have found my passion in real estate through leadership and building real estate careers.  I’m the daughter of two athletic coaches who both kept their focus on the fundamentals and I like to think I followed in their footsteps, just in a different industry.


What is a typical day like for you?

Robin DuFault: I started in Real Estate in 2003 and have been with Bennion Deville for 17 years.  It is both challenging and rewarding to work with buyers and sellers of properties. During the early 2000’s I was appointed to the Indio Planning Commission which added another dimension to my working knowledge. One of my first sales was a large land parcel to a Builder and I became hooked on dirt. I would say that is where my passion is since there is so much to research with the land, zoning, land use, etc.

Kathleen Buys: This industry has changed so much in the past few years. Title companies are so limited to what they can and can’t do! Along with the Insurance Commissioner, and COVID-19, our jobs are changed tremendously! My job every day, is to get my agents/clients the support they need in getting their transactions opened and over the finish line! I pride myself and FA team with the experience, knowledge, tools and support 24/7, in being the number one problem solver in the industry!

Stephenie Zinn: I’m usually up by 5:30 for a quick workout and to browse the MLS for the latest hot properties.  I’m in the office by 9:00 to lead generate and grow the Better Homes and Gardens Desert Lifestyle Properties office I manage on El Paseo in Palm Desert.  The late morning is reserved to check in on my agents.  While, early afternoons are when I hold most of my appointments.  I do my best to regroup for the day and be home by 6:00 to have dinner with my mom, who I started caring for full-time last year.  Each evening I spend a little time unwinding by meditating and cuddling with my 11 year old Maltese, Westley.


Tell us something we don’t know about you.

Robin DuFault: My advertising career was in print sales of directories for Paramount Studios and The Better Business Bureau (at one point was promoted to Director to oversee production of the books). I also sold print ads for the alternative newspaper, The LA Weekly. Around this time, I enrolled in college and eventually earned a BA. I only mentioned this because in High School I was told by a Counselor that I wasn’t college material.

Kathleen Buys: I turn 70 this year, have 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren! I love my job more than I ever have.

Stephenie Zinn: While I’m a desert girl at heart, I really unwind when I’m near the water.  Ocean, lake or river, I just love to be outside and the movement of a natural body of water reminds me that there are greater forces at work in life than all of us.


What do you find to be most important when it comes to volunteering?

Robin DuFault: My volunteer work with CDAR began in 2008 with DACIE, the commercial MLS for CDAR. In 2015 I was asked to volunteer as a Board of Director member. The more I understood about the workings of the Association the more involved I got with various Committees. Most anyone who volunteers will admit it is rewarding to give back, but I’ll add that hearing different opinions in a group dynamic is eye-opening and often inspiring.

Kathleen Buys: I still cherish my time volunteering, whether it’s on a board committee, community events, charities, like Shelter From the Storm, which I also help start…giving back is my passion! I still hear from many past recipients of the Scholarship Awards…10- 15 years later, because we made a difference and touched their lives!

Stephenie Zinn: I was raised with the belief that we have a duty to leave things better than we found them. I feel very fortunate to have been blessed with some amazing mentors who have dedicated their time and efforts to my success.  I’m often reminded of my Dad’s words to his baseball players, “Take what you need while you’re here.  Someday, you have to give it all back.”  It is my greatest honor to give back everything this desert and our industry have given to me.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

Robin DuFault: It has been said that REALTORS® never retire so in five years I expect I will be doing much of the same.

Kathleen Buys: I plan to be retired!

Stephenie Zinn: Oh no, I don’t play that game any longer.  Ha ha!  I spent the first 40 years of my life planning for lots of things while life happened all around me.  I’m excited for the journey I’m on and feel like I’m continuing to evolve into a better version of myself.  If I could describe the path I’m on, it’s more about learning to roll with the punches rather than to be the one throwing them.  With that said, I am currently studying for my broker license while I wait for my test date and I’m always looking for the next way to step up my game.  I don’t have an intention for where that will lead me.  I just know I want to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday.

CDAR Awards Scholarships to Local HS Seniors in Coachella Valley for 2020

CDAR continues its over thirty-year tradition of awarding scholarships to high school seniors

The California Desert Association of REALTORS® awarded a total of $12,000 in academic scholarships to high school seniors in the Coachella Valley, continuing the thirty-year tradition of assisting students to aspire towards and achieve their higher education goals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, a total of 12 local students were awarded $1,000 scholarships each, including the third straight year of awarding one of the scholarships to the child of a CDAR member. The CDAR Scholarship Fund, which was started in 1988, has awarded scholarships to over 300 high school seniors over the past thirty years, amounting to $200,000 total in scholarship money awarded.

Although the annual CDAR Scholarship Breakfast, an event that celebrates the recipients with a ceremony and their families in attendance, was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, CDAR made the decision to still award scholarships in 2020 to support local students.

“The CDAR Scholarship Fund is very close to our hearts and means so much to our organization,” said Mary Funk, the CDAR Scholarship Committee Chair. “Even though we were not able to award as many scholarships as in previous years, we remain fortunate enough to still provide assistance to our Coachella Valley students so that they can continue to pursue their education goals.”

This year’s list of recipients, selected by the CDAR Scholarship Committee from a large pool of well-qualified candidates, are:

  • Catherine Avila, Cathedral City High School
  • Fayth Clayton, Palm Springs High School
  • Lorena Cota Acosta, Coachella Valley High School
  • Katia Delgado-Corvera, Desert Mirage High School
  • Jasmine Diaz, Indio High School
  • Gustavo Regalado, La Quinta High School
  • Frida Solares, Shadow Hills High School
  • Mayling Valencia, Desert Hot Springs High School
  • Daphnie Vhin Driza, Palm Desert High School
  • Jonathan Vidal Madrigal De La Herran, Rancho Mirage High School
  • Maifer Vizcarra Perez, Horizon Continuation High
  • Molly West, REALTOR®/Affiliate Scholarship, Palm Desert High School

Monies for the CDAR Scholarship Fund is raised at events such as the CDAR Scholarship Golf Tournament and the CDAR Scholarship Wall, located at the CDAR Corporate Office in Palm Desert, CA. To find out how to donate or support the CDAR Scholarship Fund, please contact the office at 760-346-5637 for information.

It’s a Better Time to Buy Now than 10 Years Ago

A strong economy, low unemployment, low mortgage rates, and alluring mortgage rates are making it a great time to buy a home, according to a newly released report from LendingTree, an online financial services marketplace. The amount of income that buyers spent on their mortgage payments also dropped from 2010 through 2019, despite higher home prices.

“If you are in a point in your life where you’re considering buying a home today, it’s a better time to buy than 10 years ago,” Tendayi Kapfidze, LendingTree’s chief economist, told realtor.com®. “If you can get a mortgage, you’re getting much lower interest rates, and it enables you to afford more. But that also means that you’re competing with more buyers, who are bidding up the prices.”

Indeed, median sales prices jumped 53.5% between early 2012 and summer 2019, according to realtor.com®. But a decrease in average mortgage rates—by more than a percentage point from the start of the decade—is helping to offset some of that uptick. Mortgage rates have dropped from 5.09% to 3.74% during that time period. That drop could save borrowers hundreds of dollars a year to tens of thousands over the life of the loan, realtor.com® reports.

Since the Great Recession, borrowers are being more responsible too, Kapfidze says. They’re “much healthier financially than they were 10 years ago,” Kapfidze says. “One reason is because of low mortgage rates. If you refinance, [you can] reduce your monthly mortgage payments.”

Homeowners are also sitting on more equity. In 2012, nationwide equity reached a low of $8.2 trillion. In 2019, it grew to about $18.7 trillion.

(Republished from REALTOR® Magazine)

Why Should You Use a REALTOR®?

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR “®” logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again. Our members abide by a strict code of ethics and have access to a wide variety of business services that are not available to non-REALTORS. This gives them a competitive edge in the marketplace, enabling them to provide superior services to buyers and sellers of real property.

12 Reasons to Use a REALTOR®

  1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power — that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders — banks and mortgage companies — offer limited choices.
  2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
  3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
  6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.
  7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
  8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
  9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the sell-ability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
  10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
  12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

(Information herein © 1995-2014 National Association of REALTORS®)

How to Choose the Right REALTOR® For You?

Not All Agents or Brokers are REALTORS® – There is a Difference

As a prerequisite to selling real estate, a person must be licensed by the state in which they work, either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience, which are determined on a state by state basis, must be met. After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local board or association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world’s largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®.

The term “REALTOR®” is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond state law). In most areas, it is the REALTOR® who shares information on the homes they are marketing, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to an MLS will give you access to the greatest number of homes.

Using an Agent and the Obligations that are Owed to You

An agent is bound by certain legal obligations. Traditionally, these common-law obligations are to: Put the client’s interests above anyone else’s; Keep the client’s information confidential; Obey the client’s lawful instructions; Report to the client anything that would be useful; and Account to the client for any money involved.

NOTE: A REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct under the NAR’s Code of Ethics. In recent years, state laws have been passed setting up various duties for different types of agents. As you start working with a REALTOR®, ask for a clear explanation of your state’s current regulations, so that you will know where you stand on these important matters.

The Difference Between a Buyer’s and a Seller’s Broker

Suppose you sign an offer to buy a home for $150,000. You really want the property and there’s a chance other offers are coming in, so you tell the broker that “We’ll go up to $160,000 if we have to. But of course don’t tell that to the seller.” If you’re dealing with a seller’s agent, he or she may be duty-bound to tell the seller that important fact. In most states, the seller’s agent doesn’t have any duty of confidentiality toward you. Honest treatment might require that the agent warn you that “I must convey to the seller anything that would be useful so don’t tell me anything you wouldn’t tell the seller.”

TIP: If you’re dealing with seller’s agents, it’s a good idea to keep confidential information to yourself. These days many home buyers prefer instead to hire a buyer’s broker, one who owes the full range of duties, including confidentiality and obedience, to the buyer. A buyer’s broker is often paid by the seller, regardless of the agency relationship.

How to Evaluate an Agent

In making your decision to work with an agent, there are certain questions you should ask when evaluating a potential agent. The first question you should ask is whether the agent is a REALTOR® . You should then ask:

  • Does the agent have an active real estate license in good standing? To find this information, you can check with your state’s governing agency.
  • Does the agent belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or a reliable online home buyer’s search service? Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region.
  • Is real estate their full-time career?
  • What real estate designations does the agent hold?
  • Which party is he or she representing–you or the seller? This discussion is supposed to occur early on, at “first serious contact” with you. The agent should discuss your state’s particular definitions of agency, so you’ll know where you stand.
  • In exchange for your commitment, how will the agent help you accomplish your goals? Show you homes that meet your requirements and provide you with a list of the properties he or she is showing you?

(Information therein © 1995-2014 National Association of REALTORS®)