Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.

Steve Caswell

Steve Caswell


Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.


My Mistake

(Published on - 3/6/2023 11:46:51 PM)

Mistakes are part of life.  Everyone makes them.  Absolutely no one is immune to them.

Recently, I made a mistake. 

I was working both sides of a deal and missed including an outbuilding in the paperwork that I thought was basically derelict.  It was an old wooden structure that was moved from its original position and placed at another location on the property where it was just there – empty.  There were no walls, just four posts and a roof on it.  I’m actually shocked it withstood the snow load this winter – but that’s neither here nor there.  I sincerely didn’t even think anything of it assuming, if it was gone, the buyer wouldn’t care.  

If you read the above paragraph carefully, my mistake is blatantly obvious.  I assumed.

I know better.  In this business, you cannot assume anything.  Our industry is legally binding contracts that are major financial, life changing decisions people make and it’s imperative that I don’t get complacent at anytime and make sure all the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed.

When we showed up for closing, the seller had dismantled the structure and was taking it with them.  Meanwhile, the buyer had already committed to having the structure enclosed and had plans for it. After working so long with and so hard for both clients, I was mortified that this half-finished structure had just severely soured the deal right at the finish line.  What I had assumed was scrap, or basically useless, was actually incredibly valuable to both parties. 

My heart sunk.  All my efforts for the last few years have just become overshadowed by four posts, a few deck blocks and a roof.  I was sincerely devastated and this one hurt.

I have only felt this horrible pain one other time in the past.  Guess how it happened?  Yep, an assumption.

I was showing properties to clients who wanted a duplex.  We found an exceptional bungalow with a pretty easy basement conversion in a great location for them and their family.  It was nestled between two all brick, 2-storey duplexes that were clearly built as legitimate duplexes.  There were rental units up and down the street and all around the surrounding area.  We wrote the offer, secured the property and the clients were pumped!

Then the phone rang a few weeks later.  “Caz, we have a problem.  Our property isn’t zoned for a duplex, so we can't put in the second unit."  I thought, “the person at the City must be wrong” and went directly to verify the zoning.  There it was – R1, not the R2 that was necessary.  I almost puked.  I zoomed out on the zoning map and the entire surrounding area was all R2, but the street they were on was a very small pocket of R1.  I was blown away.  I assumed the entire area was R2 based on the site visits and the sales I’d been involved with in the surrounding area.  All on my shoulders.

Mistakes happen.  But you should never be remembered for your mistakes.  Rather, you’ll always be remembered for owning it, learning from it and how you fixed it.  I was always brought up to face the music head on, admit when you’re wrong, make no excuses or try to deflect blame, immediately get hard to work to make it right and make sure I take away the lesson from my mistake to ensure I never repeat it.

Some mistakes are simple to correct – like when I forget to let Michelle know that I’m staying out for a few extra ones before stumbling in late.  Those are normally fixed with a “sorry, babe” the next morning.  Then there’s the drinking your buddy’s last beer mistake – you can always drop a case off tomorrow, and all will be forgotten!  But these weren’t little mistakes where a “sorry” or just a case of beer would cut it.

In both cases, I did what I was brought up to do.  These were mistakes I made, so it was time to own them versus dwelling on them and get on with correcting them.

With the zoning case, I quickly got to work helping the client with the application for a minor variance to allow a second unit in the property.  We knew, with the surrounding area, that it wasn’t going to be a big issue, but it is still a process my client never should’ve had to deal with.  Along with preparing the documentation, I reimbursed the client the $1700 for the application fee and also some additional for the headache.

With the unfinished shed case, after some back and forth with the buyer and seller, I compensated the buyer financially for my error so they could build a brand-new shed.

In both cases, I have to accept the fact that, even though I owned it and corrected it, it is a souring experience when it’s supposed to be an exciting life changing time for them.  No matter what, that feeling will never go away for me regardless how much effort I put in to correct it, but I do take pride in knowing I didn’t run away from the problem.

Complacency is deadly and I’m guilty of it in both cases above.  But not learning from my mistakes and not fixing them would be way worse.  This industry is forever evolving, and every single situation is unique – there is no monotony in this business.  Every deal has to be looked at through a clean lens, but we still have to go back on our decades of experience to navigate thru them.

For me, these mistakes are very rare but very few people would have the courage to roll on their back and show their belly on a public forum while admitting it.  I just did.  And that’s the type of loyalty, professionalism and, most importantly, honesty you should be looking for when you’re making some of the largest financial decisions of your life.  Why?  Cause everyone makes mistakes, but it’s the ones who accept responsibility for them, correct them and evolve from them that are the ones you want as your teammates.

Our team will never be perfect, but we’re pretty damn close in my opinion.  Unless your Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and have never made a mistake, we’re ready to help you avoid major mistakes when it comes to real estate.  Contact us at, search all MLS™ listings here, check out all our other great blog articles here or just browse our website for more great info on buying and selling in Greater Sudbury and surrounding areas.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at


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