I went to an auction sale yesterday. There were three lots of land for sale, configured in an L-shape, two in front and one behind one of the front lots, facing onto a side street. I had previously made an offer for one of the front lots, but it had been refused because the vendor was worried about selling the back lot if the front lots were already sold.
The property owner had instructed the auctioneer to sell all three lots, all or none. Two bidders were present who were interested in all three lots as a unit. When they finished deciding who was willing to pay how much, there was, as there always is, one clear winner. All this had been done very casually, via a discussion with the auctioneer. There weren't enough bidders present to go through the usual 'going, going, gone' routines.
I still wanted the one front lot. Another bidder wanted the other front lot. I asked him if he was willing to pay 'x' for the lot he wanted, if I would pay the same amount for the lot I was interested in. We would then split the cost of the third lot. The total would be a price that was slightly higher than the current highest bid. He agreed. Now, the bids totalled a bit more than the other bidder had committed to, and he had to decide whether to risk battling us, perhaps ending up paying much more than what he wanted to. He folded. We got what we wanted. What he didn't know, was that I would have dropped out at any higher price because, although I would have the one lot I wanted, I would also have a half interest in a lot I really had no use for. That meant that I had to keep the price low.
The guy with whom I will share ownership of the one lot is someone I have never met before. We got to know each other after the sale, over some coffee at the Tim Hortons two blocks away from the property. He is a nice guy and we will get along just fine. Isn't it weird how things work out?
The jointly-owned lot will be put up for sale.
The gentleman with whom I am trying to put together a residential equestrian community in Panama is from Colorado. I met him on a hotel patio, in Boquete, Panama. We chatted for fifteen minutes or less, and decided to go into business together. I haven't seen him since. We speak on the phone or email each other.
I am an 'old school' businessman. My word is my bond. My handshake is as good as a bunch of words carved in granite and witnessed by John Hancock. I only like to do business with people who can be trusted that way. There are fewer of those every year. It's a shame.
I salute everyone out there who is true to his or her word. Teach your children and grandchildren to be like you. We need more people like that in the world.