Smart Contract Revolution?

Contracts have changed in the last 30 years!

Years ago, I remember looking for companies offering electronic signatures in contracts.  At one point, I thought a company called Thawte, would offer a solution for real estate contracts.  Then, I used Adobe, but most clients and agents either didn’t own Adobe or were working with fax machines or physical copies of the agreement.

At some point, it became more common to see agreements with Adobe, Docusign, Echosign, Form Simplicity or Dotloop.  I’m sure there are others, but these systems come to mind and are commonly used by agents in NE Florida.   The systems usually work with an attached verification and a signature you can either upload and place on an agreement or choose as a representative cursive font during the signing process.   I also use the full version of Adobe, with standalone placement or sometimes a tablet or phone with stylus.  Paper is now the least common way to sign agreements, at least for me.

“Smart Contracts” are an entirely different evolution of the agreement.  These automatically, at least theoretically, execute.

Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. The code and the agreements contained therein exist across a distributed, decentralized blockchain network. Smart contracts permit trusted transactions and agreements to be carried out among disparate, anonymous parties without the need for a central authority, legal system, or external enforcement mechanism. They render transactions traceable, transparent, and irreversible.

Source: Smart Contracts

A company called “Propy” began an initial coin offering recently and takes a different approach, with a combination of Etherium-based contracts and cryptocurrency.    While exotic for many of us in the industry, it may eventually change the way we contract for real estate and close transactions.  I can see the potential for a worldwide title network and truly rapid closings, other than contingency on inspections and funding.    Reading through Propy’s White Paper, I can see this creating a much easier and more reliable way to purchase property internationally.   The paper addresses international standards needed, but perhaps the platform will encourage some version of an international standard in real estate ownership and closings.  I could see a title bank based on the technology, with international recognition.  When my wife and I considered buying a home out of the country, my main concern was secure title to the property, followed by any differences in ownership status for non-citizen owners.  The video below outlines the idea.  I can see issues with adoption, but believe we are moving in this direction.


Investopedia. “Smart Contracts.” Investopedia, 18 Apr. 2017,

Cuen, Leigh. “This Blockchain Startup Could Revolutionize Real Estate Investments.” International Business Times, 15 Aug. 2017,

Propy. 17 Aug. 2017, 


Cuban Coffee and Routines

16770777308_afd34ca436_oI’m convinced!  Great restaurants and coffee shops create value and make my job easier.  I’d guess I bring at least one client to Hola Cuban Café every month.   Having a handful of small coffeeIMG_1590IMG_1657IMG_1705IMG_2295 shops or restaurants to take clients, knowing the owners and knowing the menu, can make a huge difference when showing off your hometown.

Real estate brokers are often tour guides…expected to know a little about almost everything in an area.   I’m a native and playing tour guide is my favorite part of the job and gives me an excuse to spend time talking with my wife over coffee.   If you’re interested in great coffee, Hola Cuban Café is on North 2nd Street, just behind the Palace Saloon.  It isn’t big, but serves authentic Cuban cuisine and excellent coffee.

Since I’m thinking about routines and morning coffee, the island has something unique we all take for granted.  Almost everything I need in a day is less than 5 minutes from home.   If I need more time in the gym, lunch becomes a fast hour at the YMCA or Club 14.  If we haven’t been to the beach lately, the free parking and 5 minute drive makes the island feel like an every day vacation.   I do admit to one flaw in the island.  Budgeting time for work and budgeting time for play sometimes requires a schedule.   I started writing in time at the gym a few months ago, along with a daily list for my next day, before leaving the office.downtn1floyd1

By the way, if you work on the island and meals with clients are a part of work, definitely schedule time time at  a gym.  We have some amazing restaurants for such a small town!



Family Business and Times Change

vera office in 1978

Vera Boner and Associates, Inc. 1978

The sketch to the left was the family business in 1978.  In the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, there were typically 6 to 10 agents working for Vera Boner & Associates, Inc..  The building eventually grew to about twice the size you see in the picture below.  I can remember helping dig footers for the front porch, mowing the lawn, painting and putting up fencing.   It seems like a lifetime ago and my sons are now older than I was in 1978.   In 2005, I bought a building in downtown Fernandina and moved to 11 1/2 North 4th Street,  with a relatively new

New office and location in 2005 at 11 1/2 North 4th (upstairs over Edward Jones)

company name, “The Realty Source, Inc.”.  At the time, I thought growing with a new name would be easier if it sounded like a real estate office.  I also, other than one brief adventure a few years ago, made no real effort to hire agents…so I’ve been a “one man”, one broker office for the last 17 years.

Thinking about the decisions I made to work alone and to move downtown, I remember thinking I wanted to be the kind of agent another broker would hire.  I hoped to learn more about the industry each year and actually picked up a license as a Building Contractor (inactive) and, at one time, Mortgage Broker and Mortgage Loan Originator….both expired or no longer current.







Apple iPhone 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S8 for Real Estate….Choices…

If you’re anything like me, I overanalyze technology purchases.  Over the last two years, I’ve been using an iPhone 6+, and am quite happy.  I publish blog posts, take pictures and videos of homes, show homes by Skype or Facetime and it is, by far, the most useful piece of technology in my life.   Why would I even consider a change?  Well, I want a higher resolution camera and user upgrades to memory.   iPhones don’t allow memory sticks and the screens, even on the new iPhone 8, are probably not going to be equal to the resolution in the Samsung Galaxy 8.   Do I love Android?  Well, I’m not accustomed to Android, but I can see advantages.  The store has fewer restrictions.  Apple tends to pick apps and control the kinds of apps a little more.  On the other hand, I use my phone for work and want security.  I tend to see Apple as more secure and usable.   I’m used to the platform and everything works….always!

Do both devices work with the Supra Lockbox system?  In short, yes.  Android and IOS devices, unless very old, should work with the bluetooth lockboxes I use.   Do all my other apps in iOS have counterparts on Android?  So far, I haven’t been able to find a single major app without a counterpart.

How about security?  I love Apple’s security on a phone.  Android is open source and does continually evolve, but are there greater risks?  I’m took the time to read several articles comparing security between the devices and came to one conclusion.  While Android and Apple both have versions of unsupported apps, opening either to apps through jailbreak or through rooting, could allow malware of create security issues.  The users are the weak point.  “How Secure Is Android, Really?” on, offers an excellent explanation and clips from a presentation on Android security.   I tend to see comparable, but parallel development of each environment.

I use about a dozen apps daily.  I need to be absolutely certain syncing between my devices would work smoothly and that I could transition from one system to the other easily.    In looking for comparisons, I wanted to know why the Google Play Store might be better, so….again, found an excellent article on….”7 things the Google Play Store does better than the Apple App Store“.  I agree, it can be frustrating to want an app, but find it was not approved for release to the store.  Another interesting point….while there are more apps on the Google Play Store, the Apple’s Apps are generally considered more polished and work more consistently.  Developing for a variety of devices might be the problem.  Apple tends to have a fixed set of devices and screen sizes, while the sheer diversity of Android devices can be an obstacle.   “iOS versus Android. Apple App Store versus Google Play: Here comes the next battle in the app wars”  on ZDNet discusses the issue and the growth in number of apps.  More isn’t always better, but they are becoming very nearly equal.

I can see customization options and similar apps, but what about price.  I think Samsung has Apple beat in pricing.  The features are more advanced, the price is lower and….well, what about the battery life?   I don’t have accurate specs on Apple’s 8, but I think Samsung is likely going to beat the 8 in battery life.

So, will I change?  I’m considering it, based on the price and features.  The iPhone 8 is rumored to be in the $1200 range.  Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is running $500 to $700 below that price.   I could actually buy two Galaxy devices!   The screen quality, memory, expandable memory, camera, battery life and flexibility of the operating system….all look superior.   I’ll still wait to see the Apple release, but I’m also thinking about the wait for a piece of technology I want to love, but would probably not receive for several months after ordering.

Unconfirmed iPhone 8

  • Front Camera: 8MP
  • Rear Camera: 12MP dual-lens, dual-OIS, 4K video recording
  • Storage: 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB
  • CPU and RAM: A11 processor, 3-4GB RAM
  • Iris scanner, wireless charging(?)
  • Display: 4.7, 5.5 and 5.8in 1920 x 1310 Curved OLED
  • Battery Life?….Less or More
  • Processor Speed….Rumored to be significantly Faster than the Galaxy.

Samsung Galaxy S8

  • Front Camera: 8MP with autofocus
  • Rear Camera: 12MP, 4K video recording, optical image stabilization.
  • Storage: 64GB internal, 256GB expandable
  • Display: 5.8 and 6.2in 2960×1440 Super AMOLED Display
  • CPU and RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Samsung Exynos 8895 Processor, 4GB RAM
  • Iris scanner
  • Battery Life 13.6 Days Standby/ 27 Hours Usage
  • Processor Speed: MSM8998 Octa-Core, 2.35 GHz (Quad) + 1.9GHz (Quad)

Finally, I’m considering several other phones, if I move to Android.  The OnePlus 5 is an amazing phone and company.  The Oxygen OS is designed for speed, the camera is exceptional and I like the idea of a company with “independent” thinking about phone design.  A 3.5 mm headphone jack is a nice option and I really don’t much like giving that up with an Apple upgrade.  Dual sims and really great cameras,  16 megapixels and 20 in rear camera telephoto.    The screen looks closer to Apple’s iPhone 8, but the cameras appear truly superior.  Weight is 153 grams, very close to the Samsung phone.

The most important features to me are the reliability, battery life, camera quality and ease of use.  Cost actually isn’t high on my list.  I want phones to work and do what I want consistently.  Apple wins in the consistency department, but I’ll probably spend the next month comparing phones and features before making a decision.   If I had a Samsung or OnePlus device to review…..(hint, hint…), I might be able to make a more informed decision.   The phone is very important, but resolution at a very high level might matter less than consistent quality and ease of use.   My concerns are in moving from an environment my clients use and moving away from an environment with features I need.  I use iMessage daily and some of the features are not available or as seamless on Android.  The Samsung screen aspect ratio is different, so that might be an issue for me in viewing or publishing.  Samsung has a better low light camera, but Apple’s flash is better on the 8.

What do I really want in a phone?  I’d like an iPhone with a much better camera, much better display, available at half the price and with a slot for memory cards.  I also want it to use a universal cable, not a proprietary cable.  I’d like to customize the screen without jailbreaking and I’d like a better file management system.  Ohh….and I’d like about twice the battery life and complete compatibility with all other brands of smartphone.   Finally, I’d like a decent/better optical zoom.  What else might make the iPhone 8 perfect?   What about a jailbreak app written by Apple….like a permission based way to take a risk with apps not in the store.  Permission based jailbreak?

Affordable Housing Inventory? What it means?

imageThis morning, I read through an article in the Wall Street Journal on the LIRA (Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity) and the record level of spending on remodeling.   The byproduct of a housing shortage is spending on remodeling and a boom in new construction.  Considering the history of our under-$500,000 residential inventory on Amelia Island, I understand why local contractors are busy.   We’re at roughly 50% of the pre-recovery inventory on Amelia…at least in this price range!

What might this mean to an average buyer?  I would recommend pre-approval or a letter of credit/proof of funds and have a lender willing to update a letter with short notice.  This can be the difference in winning or losing, when in a competitive market.  What about offers?  I’m able to pull average list to sell percentages for any area and price range and location.  Submitting an offer in a slow market might make bottom fishing possible, but low offers often remain unanswered in a seller’s market.

Have you heard of alerts or saved searches?  I would recommend setting up a saved alert for an area or price range with your agent.  I’m able to do this and set alerts to immediately notify my clients, with a copy for me, when a new listing matching their criteria or dropping in price, is available.

What about escalation clauses?  An escalation clause is an agreement to raise an offer to a predetermined number, if multiple offers are presented to an owner.  The agreement is normally given to an agent, but only noted in the contract.   I have mixed feelings, but this is one way to “one-better” another buyer.

Is your binder important?  It might be important with competing offers.  Normally, a binder is a relatively benign part of the contract.  As long as the number is respectable, I don’t pay particular attention.  My personal rule, not for clients, is 1% or more of the sales price per month prior to closing.  There are exceptions.  If I wanted to be sure I’m seen as a stronger buyer, I might raise the number to 5% or 10% of the price.

Low inventory means something else.  Time is important!  The longer you wait to see a home and present an offer, the greater the chance you’ll compete with another buyer or agent.

Silt, Silt and more $ilt


In 2011, before beginning a run for the Fernandina Beach City Commission, a local attorney gave me most of the information linked below.  Everything below is public record, but reading may help in understanding the marina’s history.

96110 ATM Feasibility Study Marina and Misc

A key to understanding silt is in seeing the features limiting a natural flow of current.  We needed to be further west and would benefit by any construction toward the Port of Fernandina, a naturally deep and minimally silted part of the waterfront.  A recent CoFB Commission discussion related to grants and marina changes is embedded below.

Hurricane Matthew damage, DOT’s attention to Front Street, Alachua, continuing silt damage and vacancy at the marina are all adding to the pressure.   Regardless, this is worth following if you live in Fernandina.


Dredging is Inescapable


On a High Tide, Before Matthew…Beautiful!




Synopsis: Authorizes the submittal of a BIG-P
application to the FWC in the amount of $1,500,000
and agrees to provide a 51.4% match in the amount of $1,585,695 for expansion northward of the
Fernandina Harbor Marina.

Tagging and Posting Etiquette on Social Media

Today, I want to spend a little time talking about social media behavior.  I spend a lot of time marketing to clients online and I have a lot more than the average number of social connections, so probably have a feel for the unspoken rules.  In short, don’t annoy people.  Think about your audience and whether you’re using your connections, let’s call that exploiting, in a way the average person would find 231c3cce-1211-4605-a973-1bc778d37c80annoying. The real world and the online world, in this case Facebook, can be remarkably similar.  SPAM, unsolicited e-mail sent to a large number of addresses, or junk mail in real world, has another meaning for me.  To me it means any communication I don’t want.   I’m sometimes “Tagged” in a post on Facebook, but occasionally the “TAGGING” moves to an entirely new level.    Have you ever been tagged in a commercial advertisement or, if you use Twitter, had an @yourusername added to an unrelated post?   Using someone’s online identity to boost traffic or hijack their connections is just annoying!  No one wants to see frequent notifications saying they’ve been tagged in a picture or post, only to see a commercial advertisement.   We have more limited SPAM filtering for social media.  I tend to remove tags the first time or two.  If the behavior continues, the only alternative is to eliminate the connection.

While I do also use social media for work, I take the time to show consideration.  Pages on Facebook are meant for commercial promotion.   I rarely post commercially in my personal feed.   Posting real estate listings in a personal feed always feels a little like exploiting my friends.  The correct and polite way to promote a product is through a page, where your followers choose to “opt in” or through a reasonable volume of advertising targeted to an audience you feel would want to buy your product.  I try to avoid two things.  I never want to force anyone to see something too often or see something they find annoying.

When should you tag someone?  They’re actually in the picture is one clue.  I never mind being tagged, when the picture shows me at an event or activity, with one exception.  If the shot is clearly unflattering, you probably should avoid tagging.  Just use some common sense and think about it this way.  Your friends or connections trusted you to publicly post pictures and share their identity.  Exploiting that connection is the height of bad manners…a little like stealing the silverware.  It also adds a picture of an unrelated something to their online collection of “Pictures you’re tagged in”…..a future reminder of someone’s poor social media etiquette.

Election Issues Important to the City of Fernandina Beach


Poll Results and Suggestions

I talked with a friend/client a few minutes ago.   During the conversation, he wanted to know why I felt a blog would have any local impact and it led to thoughts of our last “off-year” election.  Fernandina voted to change back to four year terms for commissioners, but the cycle didn’t end until every commissioner holding office for the shorter term rotated through…ending on an even year.  Anyway, I thought it would be informative to post a poll to a “locals only” social media group, requesting input into issues facing the city.   The way we choose to approach issues have a huge impact on real estate development and on the way we are able to attract investment.  Consider the properties at Alachua and 2nd Streets.   One hotel is paused, another property slated for development is now on hold and a third corner is on the market, but might take a very different direction, depending on the way we address access and parking.   Consider the CRA and development.   Two parcels fall inside the CRA and access to the river or expansion of the marina or opening of Alachua would encourage development, acting as a catalyst to the CRA.

waterfront master plan 2009In 2017, what are the most important issues facing the Fernandina Beach City Commission?  The answers were predictable and interesting.  Beyond all other responses, there was a great concern for the Fernandina marina and condition after Hurricane Matthew.  As of today, the questions and responses are still open.  Interesting in participating?  The direct link to the “Poll” is linked here.   You should be a local resident to choose concerns or add to the choices.

Moving back to the discussion of blogs and influence, we talked a little about the waterfront and how much or little might happen.  I have mixed feelings.  The marina and front street need work now.  Alachua Street opening is something we must either choose now or risk never having an opportunity to open.  The Fernandina Observer has an interesting article covering recent developments along the water and it is worth considering as we move toward an election.

Various Background Documents/Studies Related to the Waterfront, Alachua, Parks or Marina

Front Street Geotechnical Report (March 2012)
Vision 2000

Vision 2020
Waterfront Vision

Waterfront Park Plan

Waterfront Community Redevelopment Area Plan (CRA Plan)
Community Redevelopment Area Finding of Necessity

Community Redevelopment Area Traffic Circulation/Parking Study

Walker Downtown Parking Study

HDC Recommendations to City Commission (July 2010)

Forward Fernandina Strategic Plan


Beyond the waterfront issues, the decisions facing the city are a little more complicated in 2017.  After 2009 to 2012, several changes have a bearing on the decisions surrounding the waterfront.  First for many locals, we want to see a functioning marina again.   I understand, after taking the time to reach out to current commission members and the marina’s manager, it takes time to rebuild if we want federal assistance.   Rebuilding without the assistance after Hurricane Matthew would face another set of criticism.  At one point, the concern was a marina without fuel.  I’m told fuel should be back in place, IMG_2218IMG_2219hopefully, in December of 2017.  Once we receive assistance, assuming this happens, are we rebuilding a flawed design or rebuilding with a relocated channel and further north along Front Street.  A larger marina or a marina with slips north of the current location offers several advantages.  Less silt is important, but taking advantage of the recently purchased property on Front Street allows greater efficiency and consistently deeper dockage.

Another issue is Front Street.  Deteriorating, it is now a frequent spot for overflow parking.   Improvements along front, the water, opening Alachua or repairing the failing road, all need to consider the possibility of using the street as a one-way, not two-way street to add parking and possibly improve railway safety.  What happens with Alachua?  In 2012, it was assumed Alachua might open without any other dramatic changes required.  Quiet zones were on the wish list for Fernandina and no one seemed to think about the crossings or potential for any required closure of a street.   The world is much more complex….or the waterfront issues are more complex than they were in 2009 or 2012.

So, political leaders are faced with decisions and a snowballing rate of change.  We must have repairs to the Fernandina Harbor Marina and Front Street.   Repairs and improvements are different issues, but we should consider the likely long-term planning for an area before making any change.   My hope would be to eliminate most or all the need for dredging silt, preserve parking, repair streets and drainage in a logical fashion and consider any short-term move of the marina in the plan to repair.  This appears to be happening….just not quickly.

Other issues we may face in the coming few years include an airport building at a higher than planned budget, potential changes to City Hall as the building nears obsolescence, an offer of a refurbished post office location to the CoFB and continued debate over parking.   Since I’m mentioning parking, I do think the parking will change as merchants see a problem.  With more than 20 restaurants in Historic Downtown Fernandina, certain times of the day are crowded.  Does it matter to my business?  I’m usually in the office every morning, but leave for appointments later in the day.    The change to density and encouraging diverse uses will do more to reduce the peak need for parking.   Meters or managed parking has one purpose, in my opinion….maintain fair and reasonable access for businesses or property owners.  If we see any future managed parking in terms of providing access, not revenue generation, it will be universally accepted.

Five Lots, density, redevelopment and a new sign! Opportunity?


I’m trying a new source for color signs and, if it looks like this proof, I’ll be very happy.  The Boat House corner is back on the market and offers an unusual potential for re-development.   Consider the boat house signrecent density changes in the historic district and potential for redevelopment of a building without historic significance.  It is far easier to design a building to fit historic guidelines compared to preservation of a building, while repurposing for a new use.

Ideas for uses include multiple storefronts with living above, a single mixed use condominium with commercial uses on the first floor, rooftop amenities like a public area for residents or bar or possibly repurpose the entire property with outdoor seating and a casual atmosphere with water view.   The last option might offer the added potential for use of the existing concrete block structure and expansive outdoor concrete areas.

Picture an open commercial space with covered outdoor seating.  The building may support a second interior floor and consider the structure.  I’m told all or most interior walls are not load-bearing.   Easy to reconfigure, this might make just as much sense to preserve the structure.   Loopnet Listing Detail 30 South 2nd Street

A portion of a presentation by CoFB prior to approval of a density change. This does have an impact on this corner.

New Favorite iPhone App

I’m on my fourth or fifth iPhone.   It can be easy to forget, but I started with iPods, then iPhones and tablets.   Now, I can’t imagine work or play without one.   This post is being written, in draft at least, over coffee on an iPhone.

I use a variety of apps to augment work or bring work along.   Cloud based computing is still the most useful recent evolution, but augmented reality is coming.    We see small changes in apps, hinting at the possibilities and an app I bought a few days ago, if you enjoy landscape or want to identify wild plants, is surprisingly accurate.

Plantsnap” basically uses a photo to identify a plant.   The explanation is a little more complex, but I can see the potential evolution of this kind of technology and how much it might improve life.   I already use bar codes to add foods to a diet app or shop.   I scan pages to import text and use digital or electronic signatures weekly, but identifying views or sounds around us has so much potential!   I read a recent article about the use of Google Glass in commercial uses.   No, this isn’t the original version.  This appears to be an enhanced or enterprise version of the product.  Think about the way smart-phones translate language, recognize shapes, color, music, fingerprints and even faces.  We’re on the verge of very big changes in the way technology is being used.  Over the past few years, I’ve become ridiculously good at working anywhere, but I’m faster and….well, augmented.   We all are! Social networking is just a small part of the connection.  We carry the best ideas available, a reference device for almost any subject, language translation and  even a live map!  The change is incredible for me.  I grew up without a personal computer.  My first system was a PC XT in early 1986.  It came with a basic operating system, contact manager, dialup capability (early version of internet) I didn’t use for 6 months and an amber text-based screen.   Thinking about how much things changed for me and my generation, I just don’t think most people understand how much we can do and how “enhanced” we’ve become.


What comes next?  As much as I enjoy writing, I wonder how blogs might change in 10 more years.  We’re moving so quickly toward a social media world, I expect connections to be visual and video, not written.  Look at Twitter’s recent move toward streaming content and the popularity of picture or video sharing.   My sons are far less likely to write a blog, but they do stream gaming video and use Snapchat or Instagram frequently.   The convenience is changing the way we think and communicate.   I don’t think we will ever move backward, but understanding and proactively adapting to the change is the only way to be competitive.   After AR, AI is the next huge change.  I don’t think we’ll be waiting long.  In ten years, think about the way we might adapt to artificial intelligence in our devices or connections.  Simple versions, like suggestions for shopping or automated appraisals, are in my day already.  When I look at a property, I routinely look through 3 or 4 versions of online valuation.  I can imagine changes to contracting, home inspection, real estate sales…..every part of my business could change.  Will I be necessary?  How many agents will be necessary?   What about physical office space?  Do we still see clients face to face?  I sometimes show homes with Facetime or Skype now and well over 90% of my contracts are electronic.    Old filing cabinets are slowly being emptied and I use electronic or scanned versions of almost everything.

On a recent trip, this sign was posted on a park path adjoining private residences.  I found the double-meaning, intentional or not, interesting.   Cliff paths usually have a great view.