Lamb Realty, which has eight branches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, had its license revoked eight months ago for negligence and improper supervision of its agents but has been allowed to remain open under close state supervision.
The firm is being disciplined by state officials as a result of two deals in which buyers inflated the prices of homes they purchased so they could obtain larger home loans, taking back the increases in cash, department documents show, the state Department of Real Estate disclosed.
Lamb Realty and its president, Ray E. Lamb, along with four sales agents, also were ordered to pay fines totaling $42,500. No criminal charges were filed.
The company's eight offices are in Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Newbury Park, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley, Woodland Hills and Studio City.
In revoking Lamb's license, the Department of Real Estate's regional manager, Randolph Brendia, conceded that neither the buyers nor the sellers in the deals lost any money. He said Home Savings, the lender in both transactions, also came out unscathed.
But Brendia said the actions of the company and its agents constituted "negligence in performing an act for which a real estate license is required."
Ray E. Lamb was not directly involved in the deals, which took place in 1986 and 1987, but was disciplined for violating the Business and Professions Code by failing to properly supervise his agents, Brendia said in a ruling that went into effect last June.
The ruling came to light in the latest quarterly bulletin of the state Department of Real Estate.
In a related "desist and refrain" order issued Oct. 6, 1987, the department also accused Lamb Realty's escrow company of maintaining inadequate records and failing to place customers' funds in neutral trust accounts.
Lamb Realty also was accused of failing to inform all its clients that it owned the escrow company that was holding their deposits and other money and processing their paperwork, the order said.
Ray E. Lamb was not available for comment Friday. But his wife, Dianne, who is the company's secretary-treasurer, said, "Things have been blown out of proportion."
In the two real estate deals cited by state authorities, she said the agents "were simply trying to facilitate deals in what was at that time a depressed market."
The value of both properties rose shortly after the deals were completed, she said, "so nobody was harmed."
In the first of the two transactions, Lamb agents Barbara Jean Burner and Kristine L. Anderson, along with Burner's husband, Robert Burner, received $4,000 in cash out of a loan they used to buy a home on Cordova Court in Newbury Park in late 1986, department documents said.
They received the cash even though Home Savings demanded that no such payment be allowed in escrow instructions, the documents said. The escrow instructions were changed, but the buyers received the money anyway, documents said.
In another deal in 1987, the buyer of a house on Hiram Avenue in Thousand Oaks received $7,000 in cash from an inflated loan, documents said, after Home Savings insisted again that the rebate be dropped from the escrow instructions.
Lamb and the agents did not contest the accusations by the Department of Real Estate. Theyhad their real estate licenses revoked and are now operating under what the department calls restricted licenses, documents show.
Fred Drosten, a major independent real estate broker in Camarillo, said he had no direct knowledge of the cases, but characterized the revoking of the licenses of such a prominent firm and its chief executive as "an extraordinary thing to have happened."