Jan 012015

Here’s some information from the Maine Real Estate Development Association:

stick_figure_graph_binocularsEach January, over 600 of the state’s leading real estate experts attend MEREDA’s TD Bank Sponsored Signature Event, the Annual Real Estate Forecast Conference. This annual event attracts hundreds from Maine’s real estate, construction, finance, architecture, legal, engineering, tourism, and economic development communities, the largest gathering of commercial real estate professionals in Maine.

MEREDA assembles some of Maine’s top real estate leaders to provide the annual Economic Overview and Outlook on Maine’s economy, which includes an examination of current State statistics and what they reveal about the future of Maine’s economy with an emphasis on real estate, along with the popular Market Overview by property type focusing on both Commercial and Residential Forecasts.  This unique forum is specifically geared toward developers, brokers, architects, bankers, attorneys, accountants and other industry professionals who will gain valuable insights on the state of the economy and what lies ahead in the coming months for the real estate industry.

For 2015, we look forward to welcoming highly experienced U.S. economic researcher and forecaster, Michael Dolega, Senior Economist at TD Economics, which supports all of the divisions of TD Bank Group, who will provide his outlook on Maine’s economy, and Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage will provide the Welcome Address.

This course has been approved for 4.00 hours of BROKER, LEGAL, APPRAISER & ARCHITECT Continuing Education Credits.

Supplementing the conference each year is MEREDA’s Annual Member Showcase with MEREDA Members exhibiting their products and services in front of the “who’s who” in commercial real estate.  The exhibition has become an integral part of our annual event providing a unique opportunity to network with MEREDA’s members.

For complete information visit the MEREDA site and check the events page.

Dec 192014

Holiday GreetingThe holidays are a great time to reconnect and share news, but don’t worry—this will not be your typical Christmas Newsletter. I recall receiving one a few years ago that demonstrated how not to write an annual letter. A friend nicknamed “gloom and doom” sent Christmas Greetings along with the intimate details of her recent surgery. I learned more about female anatomy than I will ever need to know.

I’m pleased to report I’m relatively healthy. In fact, my doc says I should live to 87 and die peacefully in my sleep. At least statistically. So you won’t learn much about my anatomy from this letter.

I’m convinced that my good health is due in a large part to hanging around with kids. I continue to substitute teach kindergarten through grade six at Piscataquis Community Elementary School. I’ve actually become something of a “Kindergarten Specialist.” I don’t even mind that a lot of the kids call me “Mrs. Boomsma” since they (and perhaps society in general) aren’t sure men are supposed to teach kindergarten.

Occasionally I’m asked what my favorite grade is to teach. I do love the kinders—as one kindergarten teacher explained, “When a kindergartener tells you he or she loves you, they mean it.” But I seem to find something to like about every grade. Sure, there’s more drama in sixth grade, but when they are engaged they can be a lot of fun. My classroom expectations are the same for all grades. The second one is “We will enjoy learning.”

Another question I hear a lot is, “Are you still doing real estate?” The factual answer is that I am still a licensed real estate broker with Mallet Real Estate in Dover Foxcroft but I am not actively seeking clients. I will occasionally joke that I’ve discovered more fun ways to not make money, but this is really about focus more than money.  I am happy to consider working with folks on a limited basis. After all, I do need stories to tell when I teach real estate licensing courses!

While it won’t make the New York Times Best Seller List, I did release a second book this past year—a real estate law book that serves as a text for the real estate classes I teach. Unfortunately, some major course development work has kept me from several other writing projects that are at various stages of the pipeline. There will be a sequel to Small People – Big Brains and perhaps a real estate math book.

I’ve also been recruited by another Adult Education Program (M.S.A.D. 53 in Pittsfield), so the opportunities to teach are many. I’m always intrigued at how the challenges are similar whether the student is five years old or fifty. I’ve also discovered that my adult real estate students seem to enjoy stickers even more than the kinders!

One highlight of the year was being recognized by Maine Seniors Magazine for my work with children. If you missed the feature article in the October Issue you can find it on http://wboomsma.com. We even launched my future pop star friend Kendall’s media career with a great photo of her and I on page thirty five. (Kendall informed me several years ago her career goal is to be a pop star. She’s sticking with the plan.)

Kendall and the kids haven’t run out of things to teach me. They may be small people, but they really do have big brains and I like the feeling that I am touching the future when I’m with them. It’s fun to look ahead and imagine a world run by these future leaders.

Have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity — make these the best years of your life!

Merry Christmas,


Nov 172014

Brains_99_2SMI suppose the USPS driver thought it a bit odd that I proclaimed “my brains are here!” when he set the box down.

For one thing, it was a fairly large box.

Dealing with test and quiz anxiety is typically a challenge for some adult learners. A few years ago I learned that using stress balls (sometimes called “squeezies”) can help restless children focus… the constant motion seems to release energy and allow the child to focus. So, I thought. “Why wouldn’t this work with adults taking quizzes and tests?”

My first experiment with the theory included a young man who was self-proclaimed “A.D.H.D.” and he actually broke the stress ball I provided. But he also got a pretty good grade and thought having it helped. So I ordered more–different ones that wouldn’t break. The first batch were in the shape of cubes.

These cubes proved popular–so much so that they disappeared quickly. I decided to get a little creative the second  time I ordered… and I was quite pleased to find “squeezies” in the shape of brains. How much more appropriate could things be? Take a test–squeeze your brain! You might be surprised to discover what comes out!

Those too have disappeared… but I now have more!

I’ll be posting the spring schedule of real estate licensing classes soon… sign up for one–brains are provided!



Confused About the Core Course?

 Posted by at 9:05 am
Sep 302014
Don't you hate options?

Don’t you hate options?

The Maine Real Estate Commission recently introduced a new core course. Well, more accurately, TWO new core courses. This means a lot more options for licensees but it also means a lot more potential confusion.

Let’s start with the basics. Most know that 21 hours of continuing education are required to renew a real estate license and those 21 hours must include a core course.  The confusion often comes about when there is more than one core course being offered. This newest release means that for a few months, there will actually be three core courses available. Which one do you take?

The answer lies in knowing when your license expires and what type of license you will be renewing. If your license expires on or after April 1, 2015:

  • If you are renewing an Associate Broker or Broker License, you’ll need to take the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers – I.
  • If you are renewing a Designated Broker License, you’ll need to take the Core Course for Designated Brokers – I.”

It’s really that simple–after April 1. Just understand, the course required is based on the license you hold. Designated Brokers must take the Designated Broker Course. If you are a Designated Broker, taking the course for Brokers and Associate Brokers will not satisfy renewal requirements. Likewise, Brokers and Associate Brokers must take the Broker and Associated Broker Course. Taking the course for Designated Brokers will not satisfy renewal requirements.

It may well be that the best approach is to take both courses! You’ll still get three hours of credit for the course that isn’t required. For example, a Designated Broker must take the Core Course for Designated Brokers – I” and would earn three credit hours.  That Designated Broker could then take the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers – I” and earn three credit hours for a total of six towards the requirement of 21.

What if your license expires before April 1, 2015? In an attempt to keep it simple, all that happens is you have one more option and this third option is the same for all licenses.

The two courses already mentioned work the same–you would take one of those two courses based on what license you are renewing. All licenses have a third option of taking the “Working With Buyers – What Have We Agreed To? Core Course”

In other words, if your current license expires before April 1, 2015, here’s how you could meet the core course requirement:

If you are an Associate Broker or Broker:

  • Take either the  “Working With Buyers – What Have We Agreed To? Core Course” or “Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers – I”

If you are a Designated Broker:

  • Take either  Working With Buyers – What Have We Agreed To? Core Course”  or “Core Course for Designated Brokers – I

After April 1, 2015 The “Working with Buyers” course will NOT satisfy the core course renewal requirement.

This really sounds harder than it is, but you do need to be certain you “get it right.”


Sep 122014

elephant_on_hose_400_clr_11550Hopefully, most are at least aware of the elephant standing in the room even though he’s easy to ignore. We don’t like looking at him because he represents an area that can seem confusing and make him look even bigger than he actually is.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to roll out revised flood risk maps that are dramatically impacting homeowners (existing and potential) and businesses. Another reason the elephant is easy to ignore is so far only seven county’s maps have been released: Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, York, Lincoln, Waldo and Sagadahoc.

The bad news is that flood risks are changing and flood insurance premiums are dramatically affected. The good news is that there are often options and alternatives, including  subsidized and grandfathered rates which can be transferred to new owners. However, rates will still increase gradually over a period of years.

If you’ve been ignoring the flood risk elephant, it’s time to stop. A good place to start getting some basic understanding is a recent article published by the Bangor Daily News. Licensees can and should understand the issue as it relates to businesses, primary and secondary homeowners–both sellers and buyers. This is not an issue that should be reserved until closing.

Ultimately and at a basic level it’s not much different from other risks homeowners must face. There are parallels to homeowners insurance and title insurance–for licensees with clients, it’s about helping those clients manage risk. Just like other risks, another good place to start is by becoming familiar with those companies who provide the insurance necessary.

Aristotle said, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.” You can’t lose by getting smarter!

Aug 052014
You get the keys for people buying houses, how about for your career?

You get the keys for people buying houses, how about for your career?

Many associate brokers somewhat automatically take 21 hours of continuing education and renew their licenses time after time perhaps because they think, “I never intend to be a designated broker.” Of course situations can change quickly and there are probably more than a few DB’s who did not arrive in the position intentionally. But this course is about a lot more than being a designated broker. In the words of one student,

I learned so much from the instructor and other students… very interacting… it showed me what I didn’t know!

You’ll learn what you don’t know and gain a whole different perspective about the business of real estate. The course requirements established by the Maine Real Estate Commission changed significantly in 2013 and I am proud to be a significant contributor to the development of the course offered by the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate.

(I liked) the instructors approach to teaching with examples and (how) he encouraged lots of discussion during class.

This is truly a course about the practice and the business of real estate–not just law, vocabulary and theory. Upon completion of the course and two years practicing as an associate broker, students become eligible to apply for a broker’s license and are then eligible to fill the role of designated broker. But even if you have no interest in being a designated broker, you’ll want to consider taking this course.  You’ll develop a new understanding of the business as we look at some of the management issues and opportunities that exist in the increasing complex business of real estate. You’ll learn about things like business planning, ethics, and risk reduction–topics only touched on briefly in previous licensing courses.

Walter is an excellent instructor! Can’t wait to take another class with him!

Many students have indicated that taking the course will help them build their personal real estate business as they apply sound management and business principles. They discover the benefit from exploring some basic training techniques and consider the role of policy in building their business as an individual as well as a company. How about “risk management” strategies? Are they ways to minimize your exposure to complaints and law suits as while practicing brokerage?

If you’ve held a broker’s license for a while, you might also consider re-taking the course as a refresher and see how much things have changed since you were licensed. As a reward for doing so, you’ll receive 18 hours of continuing education credit! (You’ll still need to take the current core course to meet the full CE requirements.)

The course is offered alternatively as a weekend course and weekday course each fall and spring in the Bangor area. Details for the next course are available on the Arthur Gary School or Real Estate website.

 Of the three licensing courses one must take, this was by far the most interesting, the most useful and incited the most thought.

Aug 012014

Please note: Courses offered through the Real Estate Institute may NOT be eligible for meeting the CE requirement for real estate licensees. According to the promotional material, the program has been submitted to the Maine Real Estate Commission for approval, but at this point (pending approval) you participate solely because you want to learn! (Do not confuse CLE credit with the CE requirement for real estate licensees.)

The Real Estate Institute is presented by the Real Estate and Title Section of the Maine State Bar Association and this year features a variety of 59 topics with 111 sessions to choose from. Most sessions are led by attorneys with a real estate or title background and many appear to have practical application to real estate brokerage. While licensees should not give legal advice, an understanding of the issues around things like abandoned roads, unwanted tenants, bankruptcy and foreclosure–the list goes on–can only serve to improve your ability to serve your clients more effectively.

This year the Institute is being held on September 12 (Friday) and September 13 (Saturday). For a complete list of sessions, costs, etc. view and download the Real Estate Institute 2014 Program Book.



Ask me if I care!

 Posted by at 7:01 am
Jul 192014

Social Media SoapboxHere’s a quote from a respected real estate expert. He’s unnamed because there are plenty of others making similar statements. “…many agents overlook is the benefit of sharing personally… on Facebook, via email, or on Twitter, writing from the heart about what matters to you can be more beneficial than pumping out stock reports about housing data.”

Well, firstly, I wish the experts would stop preaching this whole “sharing personally” sermon. Secondly, I suspect stock reports and housing data SHOULD matter to anyone in the real estate business.

I do not need to know how hard you are working, what time you are going to bed, that your cat needs to go to the vet, and how smart your kids are. The photo of the sandwich you had at the local bar is not something I’ve been waiting for with great anticipation. Many of your clients–and prospective clients–do not need this “sharing” either.

Some years ago I experienced a rather painful purchase of a brand new vehicle. Since I know the game that is played quite well, I’m afraid it was more painful for the salesman than me. He’d work up a price with trade and run to his sales manager to “get it approved.” Of course the manager would not approve it. My salesperson would return looking rather dejected to see if I would accept the higher counter offer. After about six of these trips, he said, “Well, at least you can see how hard I’m working.”

Because I was out of patience, I replied, “No, what you are showing me is that you’re not a very effective negotiator. I should be dealing with your manager. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to give you my final number. If the boss doesn’t accept it, I’ll leave and you won’t have to work so hard.”

See, when you brag about how hard you are working, you might give some thought to the message you are sending. “I’m so busy!!” might mean your prospective clients better take their business elsewhere. I always wonder how these people who are so busy find time to announce it. A lot of people who think they are busy are really just unfocused.

At least bragging how about busy you are and how late you worked is about work. Sorta. What all this misses is a question of boundaries. Where does one draw the line between personal and professional? When it comes to social media, the question too often goes unasked.

Even more important is this: potential clients are, frankly, more interested in their own hearts than yours. If you’re serious about using social media to build a client base you might want to have a little sticker on your smart phone or whatever device you’re going to use. “It’s not about me.”

Maybe that housing data should be important to you–because you can bet it’s important to your prospective clients. (They may not know it is and they may not know why–tell them that.) You ought to know the questions on your clients’ minds–answer them before they are asked in a way that shows you deserve trust. Before you post something, ask yourself if the people you are trying to reach care.

Understand, this is not a plea for sterile, impersonal profiles and posts. It’s about balance, really–and setting some boundaries. Real estate, like many businesses, is ultimately about relationships and all relationships have a personal aspect. Think about who you want to attract and the most effective ways to do that. There’s some consensus that most of the social media platforms do not encourage critical thinking and discipline. It’s all about spontaneity and the good news is the bad news.

Oh–if you’re curious about how the car story ended–that hard working salesman came back with yet another counter offer. I thanked him, shook his hand and left. He caught up to me in the parking lot to tell me the boss changed his mind. After we completed the transaction, he remembered I’d said there would be a second purchase coming soon. He joked that I should give him a day’s notice so he’d be well-rested. Since this all happened before social media, he didn’t post how hard he’d worked that day.