May 042017

Students who’ve taken a qualifying education (licensing) course with me will likely remember the “Story of Dave.” I often tell it while we are studying contract law.

The story begins decades ago with a work friend and drinking buddy named Dave.  Following a failed marriage, Dave was actively “playing the field” by, at times it seemed, dating as many women as possible. In the course of so doing, he met a young lady named Meg. I’d noticed that I was hearing her name often. The tales of other adventures diminished. It became apparent he was quite smitten with her.

One November evening, Dave and I were enjoying several adult beverages and conversation when he commented that he’d finally decided what to get Meg for Christmas–a diamond ring. I nearly fell out of my chair and replied, “Omigod, you’re getting married?!”

Almost before the question was finished he replied vehemently that he was not getting married–he was merely giving Meg a diamond ring for Christmas.

It was, as they say, a “teachable moment.”

I suggested to Dave that we would conduct an experiment by surveying every woman in the bar who would talk to us. (Fortunately, many would if only out of idle curiosity.) The question we would ask was “If you received a diamond ring as a Christmas gift, what would you think it meant?” Of course, 100% replied with a version of the conclusion they were engaged. David offered a further explanation to several of our subjects. They remained steadfast in their opinion, shook their heads and gave him that “oh you poor guy” look.

When Dave and I finished our drinks that night I noticed he seemed a bit subdued and thoughtful. Meg was certainly not like every other woman–that’s why he was smitten by her. But he now had overwhelming evidence that she might well view his gift differently than he intended. He did not mention his planned gift again as Christmas approached.

The story demonstrates an implied contract — an agreement created by actions of the parties involved, but it is not written or spoken.  Implied contracts can be difficult to enforce but they are often considered valid. (Note that the Maine Statute of Frauds requires any contract involving the transfer of an interest in real estate to be in writing. MRS Title 33 §51) There is actually some interesting case law around engagements, engagement rings, etc. Can the ring be considered liquidated damages should the offeror fail to follow through with the marriage?

Students always want to hear the rest of the “Story of Dave.” I’ve been able to share that he did give her a diamond ring and they were married about a month after Christmas. Since we lost contact several years later, I’ve not been able to share the long-term results. Until now. Much to my surprise, my phone rang this week and it was Dave! He’d used the Internet to locate me. We did a lot of catching up. I am thrilled to report that he and Meg are still a happy couple (I don’t remember the exact year they married, but it was close to forty years ago), have three very successful adult children and enough grandchildren to keep them busy.

So we have a story with a happy ending and an example of an implied contract that worked.  We sometimes joke that marriage is the cause of most divorces… and observe that written agreements often are the cause of many disagreements. I’m delighted to have this example of an implied contract that was successful. Congratulations, Dave and Meg!

Sep 022015

figure_trips_custom_text_13907There’s a little girl at school who I’ve known for several years. She’s a great kid, smart, and fun. If I were allowed to have favorite students, she could qualify. The one troubling thing about her is that she often cries when she realizes she’s made a mistake, even a small one.

Today, I know how she feels. I made a mistake yesterday and missed an event I was scheduled to speak at. (Fortunately I wasn’t the only speaker!) I can say in all honesty, this is only the second time in my career I have missed a speaking or teaching assignment.

Perhaps I can balance my sadness by telling the story of the time I almost missed a teaching assignment. Actually, I didn’t totally miss it and it’s a sorta funny story. Let me explain.

I was conducting a series of supervisor training classes in conjunction with a project at a client’s site. I was on site, working in a spare office. One of the other consultants, Bill, stuck his head in the door and announced, “You know there are a bunch of supervisors waiting for you in the training room?” I immediately realized I’d forgotten I had a class scheduled and jumped up in panic.

Bill started laughing. You have to be creative and flexible in the consulting business. Bill was certainly not an exception. He motioned me to sit down and then told me the rest of his story.

“I was walking by the room and noticed them all in there… so I walked in and asked them what was going on. One of the students explained that they thought ‘Walter is punishing us…’ When I asked why, they explained that many of them had been late for the last class and they were pretty sure you were showing them how it felt by not being on time yourself.”

Now it would be great if the story ended there. But Bill had more to tell me.

“I asked them how the class usually started and they explained that they usually reviewed homework as a group. So I suggested they start without you. That way they could show you that they were learning to accept responsibility and becoming self-starters. So if I were you, I’d give it a couple more minutes, the stroll in casually and act surprised.”

I did just that.

When I walked into the room, one of the students was standing at the flipchart recording the group’s answers while another student was facilitating a discussion of the homework. After that portion of the class was over, I thanked the self-appointed leaders and continued with the rest of the class as if I’d actually planned it that way. We “debriefed” the process and decided to rotate the responsibility among the students for the homework discussion during future classes.

Thanks to Bill’s quick thinking we truly made lemonade from a lemon. My reputation remained intact, the students learned something, and future classes were actually improved.

Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with a similar solution for this time. I suppose I could call Bill to see if he has any ideas, but it’s probably too late. Due to distance and time there was no way I could make it by the time I received the phone call asking where I was. It didn’t occur to me to cry, but I did (and do) feel really bad.

Today I’m trying to remember some of the things I say to my young friend when she cries. “Making mistakes is okay… sometimes what you think is a mistake isn’t… we can learn from our mistakes…” Ultimately, it is about perspective, right?

The shared story happened about thirty years ago. So if I can go another thirty years without forgetting a teaching or speaking assignment, I guess that’s not a bad record, really.

Wait! I didn’t actually miss that class thirty years ago–I was just late. So if I can go this long before I miss another teaching or speaking assignment, that will be a pretty good record. And I’ll also be really old!


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 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,



Math with a Moral

 Posted by at 7:06 am
Mar 112014

Here’s a little math problem I sometimes give my students that doesn’t relate to real estate. I’ve included the answer, but not the explanation. (I usually offer students a sticker if they can explain why the answer works!)

A farmer died leaving his 17 horses to his 3 sons.

When his sons opened up the will it read:

  • My eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total horses;
  • My middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third) of the total horses;
  • My youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total horses.

As it’s impossible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons started to fight with each other.

So, they decided to go to a farmer friend who they considered quite smart, to see if he could work it out for them.



Greetings of the Season!

 Posted by at 7:46 am
Dec 212013

XMOOSEThe holidays are a great time to say “thank you!” I’ve enjoyed your confidence and friendship this past year and it is satisfying to know that a lot of people—buyers, sellers, colleagues, affiliates and students—have achieved success as a result of our work together. As we near the start of a new year, this is also a great time to look back and ahead.

You’ll recall last year I announced my intention to increase the emphasis on the training and education aspects of my work. I also announced that I would be substitute teaching kindergarten through grade six at Piscataquis Community Elementary School.

A few weeks ago a fourth grader came to “my” classroom to visit after a day of subbing. In the course of chatting he informed me that “pre-k and kindergarten” were the best years of his life. When I asked why he replied “Because there wasn’t really that much I had to do…” I managed not to chuckle.

I suppose it could be considered cool that at nine or ten years old (going on forty) he’s figured out what’s important to him, but I really want to tell him “the best is yet to come.” At least that’s been true for me—while my life has been good, I can’t recall a period of time that was more fun and more satisfying than these years I am living.

A big achievement this past year was the release of my book, Small People—Big Brains: stories about simplicity, exploration and wonder. In the obligatory about the author section, I noted, “I’ve effectively started a new career as a substitute elementary school teacher. The kids haven’t run out of things to teach me. They may be small people, but they really do have big brains.”

In support of the book and my future direction, this year I created “Abbot Village Press,” with the idea that we’ll be “Maine’s number one publisher in Maine’s number one town” by publishing books and blogs with purpose. Several publishing projects come to mind and I suspect there will be a volume two of Small People—Big Brains. Perhaps I should issue a warning: “I’m a writer. Anything you do or say may be used in a future article or book.”

I have, of course, continued to offer real estate courses in association with the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate. Class enrollments continue to climb. This may well reflect a growing confidence in the future of real estate. While it’s not a focus, I also continue my affiliation with Mallett Real Estate and work with select clients on a somewhat limited basis. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are going to be involved in a real estate transaction as a buyer or seller.

This fall, the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative invited me to develop and teach one day classes for others who want to substitute teach! The class was offered in Milo and Guilford and we will be repeating it in January in Dover Foxcroft and Dexter. RSU 19 Adult Education (Nokomis) has asked me to offer several courses. I’m also having a lot of fun helping out with the Piscataquis Secondary School Pirate Specials Program designed to connect middle and high school kids with community resources and individuals who will help them explore career options.

One of the stories that didn’t make it into the book happened a few years ago when a second grader became exasperated with me and told me, “Mr. Boomsma, you need to focus.” It helps if you picture her with hands on the sides of her face mimicking the blinders horses wear. At the time, I thought I was very busy. She rightly recognized I wasn’t busy. I just wasn’t doing such a good job of handling multiple priorities. (You can read the entire story on my brain leaks and musings site.)

Unfortunately, I’ve lost a cartoon I had that showed a fish climbing out of a lake and saying to an animal standing on the shore, “Outta my way, pal. I’m evolving.” I’d like to think that while these are some very good years, the best is yet to come. I’m evolving!

Thanks for your confidence and support. Do let me hear from you… and have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity — make these the best years of your life! Evolve!

Merry Christmas,

(aka “Mr. Boomsma”)


Here’s a lead!

 Posted by at 7:03 am
Dec 062013

But don’t get too excited…

My name is Begenc Gundogdyyew from Turkmenistan, I want to buy a family living home in your country, please let me know if you can assist me. What i need is a single family home, a big kitchen, a car garage that can content up to 3 cars, a flower garden and also a pool. I will be happy if u can put the pictures together and sent it to me for me to make selection with my wife and children. I am ready to purchase a house that will not be more than $2,000.000 (Two Million US Dollars).

The life of my family is no longer safe here in Turkmenistan, the government and my political opponent want to assassinate me and my family, they have several time tried to assassinate us, but the Almighty God has always been with us. You know when you are against the wrong doing and evil acts  of the government you are bound to have a lot of enemies.

Please I want you to assure me that you will assist me and my families relocate to a very safe and gated area in  your city,  i want you to keep this plan of mine very confidential let it just be between you and me please, this is due to my present situation in Turkmenistan.

Waiting for your quick reply.


Begenc Gundogdyyew

money bagsI’ll provide the email address to licensed agents who have completed a course I’ve taught and will agree to pay my agency a 25% referral fee. No, wait… for a limited time I’ll give the referral for a mere 15%.

I’d suggest you sign Begenc up as a client fairly quickly as that would invoke the fiduciary duty of confidentiality he seeks. Unfortunately, the world already knows his motivation and his price range–a mistake he might not have made if he’d seen the Real Estate Brokerage Relationships Form prior to having a substantive communication with us. He hasn’t, however, disclosed his time frame for completion and students from my courses will probably recognize the need to “qualify” him on that point. “If we find a property today that meets your family’s needs, are you…?”

You also probably noticed he hasn’t mentioned whether or not he’s been to a lender and pre-qualified for the requisite mortgage to purchase the property. However, given the nature of this potential transaction it would probably make sense to get a client agreement before suggesting that or asking for proof of funds.

I might also suggest that you clarify his cap of two million. He may not realize there are closing costs, transfer tax, etc. (You do know how to estimate those, right?) If he’s working close at two million, it might make sense to reduce that top end–or at least be prepared to negotiate a closing cost concession with the seller.

In the interest of fairness to those considering a client relationship with Begenc, I should probably also point out Begenc wishes to be in a “gated community” in a city, thereby eliminating much of the Maine Market. Of course we also don’t know how he defines “city” and that should probably be a point of clarification in preparing a buyer representation agreement.

Since it sounds like this will be more than an “arm’s length” transaction done without a showing, it probably wouldn’t be necessary to have a disclaimer that your company is not including personal protection services.

There. Now tell the truth… how often do you get offered a referral like this (only 15%!) AND some advice for getting started? What a change from the “Have you got any good foreclosures under $20,000 that I can buy and flip…? I must have the Christmas Spirit to be this generous!


Terrible Real Estate Photographs

 Posted by at 4:43 pm
Nov 072013

taking_pictures_PA_150_clrWell… it may not be nice to make fun, but laughter is good for the soul. So here’s a link to a blog/website where the theme is “Terrible Real Estate Photographs. The site owner assures us the photos are legitimate. I believe it. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Warning: Do not view this site unless you are sitting where you can laugh out loud, possibly until the tears start. Be sure you read the captions… and consider sending your “outtakes” to:

Terrible Real Estate Photos