Lessons Learnt

I made mistakes in my career but learn my lessons

My first place of residence was in an apartment building in Scarborough, Lyn Valley. I was advised by my friends and relatives to buy the best furniture and appliances because when I eventually buy my home, I can keep them. That was a mistake because back then, condos were selling for about $40,000. All I needed was 10% or $4,000. I choose instead to buy an expensive bedroom set for about the same cost. I took advise from the wrong person. I confide in the person who were closest to me and not necessary the right person. You should not go to the mechanic when your head hurts and similarly to the doctor when your car broke down.

When I bought my first home, I relied on a friend who introduced me to a Realtor. He showed me one home in Malton and convinced me to buy it. The sellers were his friends and they eventually bought another home from him. The home I bought was roach infested and required work. I paid above market value. The Realtor assisted me to arrange mortgage through a mortgage broker. I paid huge brokerage fees and had a first and second mortgage. Today, I interviewed at least 3 people before deciding. I learnt  over the process.

 I assisted many people financially and received the wrong end of the stick. The money and the friendship disappeared. I assisted a client who relocated to Mexico and had an outstanding loan. She asked if I can assist. She would repay in a few weeks. It’s been over 10 years now and I am still hoping. I came to understand that if someone do not have money in the first place, how can they afford to repay you? It’s best to give and forget than to lend and repent.

In the mid 90’s, a friend, top-notch accountant, advised me to have a mixed investment portfolio. I had a few rental properties then and with his advice, I bought mutual funds. About seven years later, I sold it at a loss and moved on. I learnt to stick with what I know best. Had I used the money to buy a few more rental properties, things could have been different.

In 1988, a potential buyer asked me to show him a home in Scarborough. He was living in Mississauga. After visiting the home, he requested that I dropped him off a few blocks down the road by his daughter. On my way driving home I realized that he used me as an unpaid taxi cab driver. Today I worked differently. I asked more qualifying questions. I found that by asking more questions, I can assess the client’s need and assist them better. At the same time, I can throw out the bad apples.

I had a client who always introduced himself as “Reverend”.  It turned out that he was a scam artist. On the other hand, my doctor would refer to himself by his first name and not by his title. Today, anytime some one introduced themselves to me by their title, I interpreted it as a warning signal.

I assisted a couple, that were having family disputes, to sell their home. I got the offer signed by the husband and had to meet his wife in the mall. She was with her sisters and begged me not to let her husband knows. Later her husband called and questioned me. I did not mention that she was with her sisters. The bad news is that he eventually found out and unleash his anger against me. Lesson learnt is not to get caught in the cross fire because you are getting bullets from both sides.

For investors, I rewarded good tenants by not giving them a rental increase. Most of my rental properties are under performing. Now, I reward my tenants differently but give them a rental increase as allowed by the guidelines.

I hope that these life lessons act as light houses in the dark and stormy seas of  our lives. Osker Wilde, the famous poet and playwright puts it into perspective Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Let’s learn from experiences.