Monday, December 7, 2009

Ahhh...Real Estate

OK - Well, it has been a long, long time since I have written in my blog due to a number of very special and important I will go through them over the next number of posts. 

I am starting with Real Estate and the value of a "contract".  On Sunday, November 29th, we received 2 offers for our house we are selling.  One just below asking price, which was the first offer, and a second one just above asking price.  Close dates were very similar and conditions were identical.  Obviously we took the higher offer from the second person that had brought the offer forward on Sunday evening.  Everything seemed fine.  2 simple conditions, home inspection and financing, and we are home free.  He was up front early on (through is agent) that financing would not be an issue.

On Tuesday the home inspection was completed and 1 minor issue was stated.  We agreed to have it fixed to the satisfaction of the buyer and agreed through email that the condition would be met.  Second was the financing.  Normally, when financing is done through an institution, documentation and disclosure is an important part of the process.  If anyone has dealt with banks in the past, and most have, banks are notorious for over-documenting processes.  This is normally a pain in the ass, but for this particular instance, it may be very important, as you will hear shortly.

On Thursday, our buyer's agent emails my agent to say that the deal may not go through, not because of the home inspection, but because of financing.  We are extremely frustrated at this point because he was clear early on that financing would most likely not be an issue.  When the agent emailed about the financing, my agent rightfully asked for documentation surrounding the denial of financing.  The bank would have a paper trail showing that this buyer had been approved or been denied financing, and that we would require that piece of paper to sign a mutual release on the contract.  It seemed pretty simple because if he had gotten financing, we would have required documentation proving that he did get financing.

For the next few days, we heard nothing from his agent.  No documentation.  No responses.  No professionalism.  So, you wonder who this agent is?  Take a look at his website.  This is not meant to be a slander, but a statement to say that you must follow through on what you say and act in a professional manner to all parties involved.  If your client was truly denied financing, prove it, for whatever reason.  This agent, Brian Balmer, is not providing my agent with the information we have asked.  Simple request.

So, we have decided to push forward on our threat of legal action.  This agent has until 5pm today to provide us with information regarding the client's financing with regards to the contract, or we will move forward with legal action.  I truly hope is does not get to this, but all the facts will be laid out if it does. 

What is the frustration with this?  It looks like the contract that this buyer signed to purchase our house is not worth the paper it's printed on.  It was a legal document with conditions attached.  The buyer has not proven either way whether these conditions have been met.  What is the purpose of having an agent and sign these contracts if people can just walk away because they feel like they don't want to provide proof?

My agent has been wonderful and forthcoming in this entire process.  Miranda O'Sullivan has been professional and curtious to all parties, and I would recommend her to any and all who ask.  Once again, this is not meant to be an advertisement or a ridicule of any agents, but really about the process and the ability for someone to walk away unscathed from a contract. 

Please post any comments or stories you have about real estate contract issues.  I would love to hear them.  I am sure I am not alone.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Technology vs. Subject Matter Expertise

My day job is to sell/market/promote mobile technology for home care agencies.  I have been here ( for just over a year now, and I have learned a significant amount about the home care, healthcare, and technology space.  This is what I wanted out of my new career and it has been a great learning experience.

One of the great learnings is that sending data reliably over a wireless network is hard.  Having two systems talk together reliably and quickly is hard.  It makes me realize that the technology and architecture it takes to send email, texts, GPS signals, and other wireless forms of communication, that Research in Motion, Apple, and the Telco's have done is very impressive.  Reliable.  Secure.  Fast.  Impressive.

Now to the point of this post.  In healthcare, and most likely every other space, there is the technology component of the software and the subject matter expertise.  Often the two are not the same, and very rarely are the technology experts also the subject matter experts.  It's difficult to be great in both areas.  What's more important?  I will use our home healthcare space as an example.  If the technology works every time, but it's not relevant to the nurses, does it matter?  If the work flow on the mobile device is optimal, but only sends information 80% of the time, will nurses adopt it?  Can you have both?  Yes, and you NEED both.  But in order of importance, get the technology stable first, build the workflows second.  That's the fundamental lesson here.  Stable technology is more important than anything else when you begin.

Entrepreneurs are famous for thinking they know everything.  They are usually very smart and often successful, and they have a history of project and business successes.  Of course they know what to do, what it is supposed to do, and how it works.  But I think as technology gets more complex, and the applications that are being created are getting more complex, it is going to take more than 1 person/1 level of expertise to be successful.  Our biggest competitor has the technology figured out, but they don't know the industry that well.  We know the industry better than any other software vendor, but the technology is less than reliable.  Right now we are struggling and they are winning.  When we figure out how to solve the stability issues, nurses, therapists, and personal support workers will be looking forward to our application before our competitors.  We have been told that time and time again.  I just hope we figure out the technology before our competitor figures out the industry.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Today is the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation's Random Acts of Kindness day.  The goal of the program is to pass on simple acts of kindness to people in the community, have them continue to trend to other people, and eventually, everyone in the community has experienced little acts of kindness. 

I encourage everyone, regardless if you are in Waterloo Region or not, to use this day, Friday the 13th, to participate in this day.  Ideally, we will create a culture that appreciates giving random acts of kindness, and we won't need a day to promote the idea.  Check out The Record for some Random Act of Kindness Day cards to pass along or the KW Community Foundation website for more information.

Simple acts to strangers often have the most impact.  For some really cool ideas of how to participate, please take a look at the following websites:

Random acts of kindness are a wonderful way to touch the lives of others and make our world a better place.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spreading yourself too thin or maximizing your potential

As I look at my "to do" list and realize there isn't a hope that I will get everything done, I begin to wonder if I am spreading myself too thin.  I currently have 5 life projects on the go, outside of the general eat, sleep, stay fit, etc.  I have my full time job, helping a company access very lucrative government grants, building a nursery/preparing the house for our new arrival, building the new kitchen/bathroom in one of the rental houses, and working with a great new group of people developing new mobile applications for enterprise level releases.  All of it is very exciting.  All of it taps into a different skill set that I have and would like to build. 

Malcolm Gladwell says it takes approximately 10,000 hours of focus to become an expert in an area.  I have decided that I don't want to be an expert in one area.  A well rounded individual who is good at a number of things, great at nothing, is who I am destined to become.  I may stumble upon one area in my life that I really want to focus on and try to become an "expert" in, but that chance is slim.  This is evident by the number of sports equipment I have at my house.  Of course I have the usual running shoes, swimming goggles, and bikes, but there are squash racquets, tennis racquets, badminton racquet, a baseball glove, volleyballs, basketballs and shoes, curling brooms, skis (x-country and downhill), no snowboard yet but one day soon, and probably a few other items that I have lost over the years.  Focus is not my forte. 

I want to finish this thought right now.  I am saying that there is a lot of value in understanding your own personality and embracing your natural tendancies.  For me, a variety of experiences drives me to be creative and increase my breadth of knowledge.  I have embraced it.  For those that are driven by deeply understanding a smaller number of topics, I shall lean on you when I have questions that my shallow depth of knowledge can't answer.  Thank you for being you.  For me, I am maximizing my potential as an entrepreneur, athlete, spouse, and soon to be father.  Now saying that...

A baby might change my perspective very quickly.  Thoughts?

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Life as a landlord

I have been a small time landlord for about 5 years now.  We have had tenants in our basement, tenants in a house near St. Mary's hospital, and tenants in our 3rd house for just over 1 year.  All of these experiences have been very positive.

At the end of July, our tenants in our rental house near the hospital decided to purchase a house.  They had been great tenants for almost 3 years.  They were very good to have and we were going to miss them.  Instead of trying to rent it out again, we decided that selling would be the best option for us.  As we found out, part of being a landlord is to sell your properties.

The selling process has been very interesting.  We tried to sell the house "as-is" for the first 2 months.  The renters moved out, we cleaned up and tried to sell it with the original kitchen, didn't fix many of the little issues and we decided not to paint.  We had over 70 people through the house and not one offer.  Our real estate agent, Miranda, is very good and experienced and she thought we would have no issues selling the property.  Unfortunately we found out something very interesting about first time home buyers in K-W right now.  They won't lift a hammer when they buy a house.  They want a house where they can move right in, most likely just like their parents house they moved out of, and they want it all for less than $250,000.  I think this is a consequence of the baby boomer generation that did not do much work on their own, therefore their children have no idea how to do the work around the house.

Understanding this, we decide that we would make the necessary investment into the house to get it sold.  Thankfully my brother in law and father in law are very handy and love doing the work.  I like the work, but not to the extent of these two, and I don't have the skills.

We have spent the past 4 weeks ripping out the old, original kitchen, painting, cleaning, and installing new kitchen cabinets.  We are redoing almost every room in the house.  It has been a big job, and we most likely have 3 more weeks to go, but we are progressing.

For those people who have older houses that you are trying sell, a fixer-upper is not valuable.  Spend $6000 -$7000 to improve the kitchen, then sell it for $10,000 more.  New home buyers are willing to spend some money, but they are not willing to do the work.

More updates later. 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

An Opening Post (again)

This is my third start at letting others into my life through the online written word. I have tried in the past talking about my Ironman and triathlon training, and on the opportunities and challenges with looking for a job after an MBET degree. Now, I am trying #3. This is going to be more about me and all the things that I get myself into. Whether it's entrepreneurship, my day job, general interests, or the new bundle of joy that is joining our family in the next few weeks, it will be written down here.

I sit here at the house, with a glass of wine, and a list of stories, advice, and musings that ,I want to share with you. Bear with me as I improve my writing style, my story writing abilities, and my commitment to this. Stick with me for a little while, and I am very sure that you will be able to learn a few things from my various experiences in business, school, leadership, sports, and family life. I truly hope that I will be able to learn a lot from you as well. Enjoy my first post.

Recently my very good friend Athena mentioned to me some changes that the Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (CBET) was undergoing for it's flagship Master's program. Athena thought that I (or someone else) should try to get involved in the Advisory Council (AC) for CBET. The AC is similar to a board of directors that helps CBET set strategic direction and provide leadership.

I am a big fan of people who do things to change their situation instead of just talking about it. And because I have hypocrites, I decided to send Murray Gamble, the current Chair of the AC and Doug Beynon, the past chair. I suggested that they have an MBET alumni on the board, and if they liked that idea, I could be that representative of MBET. Fortunately they thought that the idea of having an MBET alumni on the AC was a good idea. We have agreed that I will be the MBET alumni representative for the first 2 year term on the AC.

I am really looking forward to being part of this group. Historically this group only gets together 2 - 3 times a year, but the opportunity to work and learn from this very experienced group of men and women. I am looking forward to this experience and I will certainly keep you posted of events and non-confidential conversations that happen with this group.

I have a number of posts that I must work through over the next week or so. For now, you can follow me on Twitter at if you want to hear more about my day to day life and activities.

Until the next post.