10 Questions with First Team Real Estate Agent Trista Bouchard


1. Tell us about your new radio show that is debuting on Saturday, June 11.

Trista: OC doesn’t have a real presence from the Los Angeles broadcasting networks, so I wanted to impart listeners with pertinent information on a weekly radio show, which will have guest interviews as well as call-ins. It’s not just about the doom and gloom of the current real estate climate. It will touch on topics such as how do we incorporate real estate into our investment portfolios – they can be valuable assets to your retirement plan. I want to stress that there are a lot of opportunities in this market. Whether it’s the first time homebuyer who may be renting … Why not build equity yourself? Be responsible for a mortgage instead of paying rent to someone else. There’s a lot of programs available to get you into a house. If you currently own a home, why not buy rental properties to supplement your retirement? I approached KOCI 101.5 FM, because doing something locally made sense to me. My half-hour show will air Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m.

2. Do you have a background in broadcasting, and what prompted you to do a radio show?

Trista: I did theater and acting from the time I was four. I love talking, teaching and performing. In the financial services industry, I was a public speaker. Today, I want to be a resource to help educate people here in Orange County about real estate. There’s so much misinformation re: short sales and foreclosures, specifically, and I want to dispel myths and clarify the gray areas. Also, there is so much data out there that the consumer can’t make sense of. I want to be able to explain those reports.

3. What will your first radio segment focus on?

Trista: Introducing listeners to the new show.

4. I read you were featured on TLC’s “Property Ladder,” which focused on flipping houses. Can people still do well at this in this challenging real estate market?

Trista: It’s not as easy as it was before when housing prices continued to escalate, but there are still great opportunities, such as buying properties, rehabbing them and renting them to create an additional revenue stream. When the market comes back you can then flip the home.

5. What’s your real estate background? And what are some of the geographic areas you specialize in?

Trista: I have an bachelor’s in business & real estate, an MBA in finance and a master’s in gerontology, which is the study of aging. As the boomers begin to retire, they don’t necessarily want to live in an institutional setting  – they want to age in place. It’s important for this segment of the population to find out what they can do, such as make modifications, so they can stay in their homes as long as possible. In fact, many cities are asking builders to make new homes “accessible” – build hallways wider, include a downstairs bed and bath, and have roll-in showers, for example. For buyers of any age, it is important to consider how a home can accommodate their needs as they age – allowing homeowners to age in place.

Most of my business is through referral, which I believe is a testament to my commitment to service. I sell Newport Coast and Newport Beach. People are looking for a bargain right now in these areas. They want a good deal and value, and are seeking homes that have already been highly upgraded. Kitchens are really important as are outdoor spaces. Homeowners want to be be comfortable in their surroundings and entertain in a casual setting. They want to share that restaurant experience at home. We’re lucky enough that we can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle all year round here in Orange County.

6. What do you think is most important when trying to match up the right buyer with the right house?

Trista: Buyer consultation is so important. What is someone truly looking for in a home? Specific needs, such as the number of bedrooms is important, but also what does a specific neighborhood offer. Then, I take them out (I deal a lot with first time buyers) and while I’m with them I find out what appeals to them. As Realtors, we become very intuitive. And I try to save my clients a lot of time by previewing properties that will appeal to them. Lifestyle searches are very important. Especially in the OC … it’s all about lifestyle.

7. In 2010, you were honored with the prestigious Orange County Five Star Real Estate Agent award. What accomplishments did this recognize?

Trista: Five Star Professional partnered with Orange Coast magazine to conduct research to identify a select group of real estate agents who are exceptional in both their ability and their commitment to overall satisfaction. A survey was provided to all Orange County area residents who purchased a home over $100,000 within an 18-month period (September 2008 to February 2010), 20,000 subscribers of Orange Coast magazine, and 250 mortgage and title companies. Respondents were asked to evaluate real estate agents they knew through personal experience and to evaluate them based on nine criteria. Both negative and positive evaluations were included in the scoring. All qualified real estate agents were screened with the California State Real Estate Commission’s database to verify that licenses were current and no disciplinary actions were pending. The final list was reviewed by a panel of local real estate company executives, professional and trade association officers and others directly involved in housing-related businesses. Fewer than three percent of the 15,000 Orange Coast residents holding real estate licenses were selected. The award winners appeared in a special section in the December 2010 issue of Orange Coast magazine.

8. Since it’s still a buyer’s market, what advice would you give to a first time buyer?

Trista: Buyers in this market become frustrated when they put in an offer for a short sale or foreclosure property and wonder why their offer wasn’t chosen. And buyers can personally feel rejected. Someone coming in with cash is going to be ahead of the game as opposed to any contingency offers. I recommend using a local mortgage person that a buyer can meet with face to face. Avoid an 800 number or someone you find on the Internet. I’ll go with that person and help in any way I can. Ask a lot of questions re: fees, etc. And before this process even starts, get qualified so you know what you can afford and manage successfully within your income. Also, think beyond just the  mortgage payment. Taxes, HOA, Mello Roos, etc. may also be additional financial commitments you will need to figure into the equation.

9. Any advice for sellers?

Trista: Realistically, sellers need to sell their home twice – to both the buyer and the appraiser. One out of four homes is cancelled or re-negotiated to a lower sales price because of a lower appraisal. Make sure your property is in tip-top condition. A seller can offer different terms that would be attractive to a buyer. They need to get creative outside of just the listing price.

10. When you’re not selling real estate or getting ready for your radio show, what do you like to do for leisure activity and to unwind?

Trista: I like to do anything active: bike riding, hiking, hitting the beaches at Crystal Cover. I’m a gourmet cook and I also love to travel and read. Spending time with my Akita Max is great too. I also love decorating and fixing things up.

Trista Bouchard, with First Team Real Estate, is a licensed broker with more than 15 years experience in real estate and financial services. She holds professional designations as a Certified Short Sale and Foreclosure Specialist, Certified Residential Specialist, Accredited Buyer’s Representative and Certified ePro Specialist. She can be reached at 949.500.1719, or by email at Trista@trista.com. Visit her website at www.trista.com. First Time Real Estate is located at 4 Corporate Plaza Drive, Ste. 100, Newport Beach.