Tales From The Real Estate Wars

Blogging since 2006, practicing law forever

Tossed Salad Friday
~~ When she heard that Ebola in humans is likely to have originated from the consumption of bat meat, the woman wrinkled her nose and said, “Eww. How disgusting. People should stick to extremely safe meats like beef.” Readers, it took a lot for me not to utter the words “Mad Cow” in response.

~~ An acquaintance canceled her midweek getaway with her husband because of the rainy forecast. rain “We’ve been married 35 years,” she said. “I want to get out and do things, not stay inside. I mean, how many times can you screw?” It took zero effort on my part to say nothing in response.

~~ I got plenty of positive feedback about my recent Huffington Post piece on attending a reunion.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lita-smithmines/surviving-a-high-school-r_b_5983270.html  It seems that so many people can relate. However, it’s interesting that none of my friends who attended that same reunion reacted in any way. I emailed them the posting, and … silence.  You’d think that I had exposed someone else’s dirty laundry, when all that I did was share how I’d dealt with my foible. never mind

~~ Speaking of dirty laundry, after almost two months, we now have a washing machine again! I know it’s a self-absorbed first-world problem, but it literally stinks to be without a washer. Especially if you live with dogs.

~~ I love baseball during these bitter autumn days. While having the Mets in it would be ideal, I do appreciate watching a Yankees- and Cardinals-free World Series. It’s great to have a team to root for, rather than just rooting against one side (or both). Apparently I'm in the minority, as today's NY Times is reporting more people watched The Big Bang Theory than baseball.

~~ Are you planning to vote in the November elections? If not, you are telling all the winners that barely anyone cares about what they do. If you’re passionate about a candidate, get out there and support the slate. If you’re passive, take the time to head to the polls and cast a vote for vigilance and awareness.  If I’m preaching to the choir, see you on Election Day!

vote ballot choice
Have a wonderful weekend.

Do You Want to Know a Secret?
I was representing a married couple in a real estate sale. A few weeks before closing, I was told by one party that they’d need separate checks from the buyers, as the couple was splitting up.

“However, that’s a secret,” he said. “She doesn’t know about it, so just tell her that it’s what has to happen under the law there are two or more owners.”

 About a half-dozen ethical warning bells rang at once, and so I told Mr. Breakup to send me an email a couple of days prior to closing, stating that, “This is how we want the buyers’ checks written for closing.” I’d then share the email with Ms. Unsuspecting and ask if she had any objections.

“After all,” I said, “she’ll see the checks anyway at closing, and know about the separation.”

He replied, “At the closing is one thing. We’ll have already done all the packing and moving out by then, and she can only make so much of a scene.”

Still unwilling, I wondered where all the boxes were being sent, and didn’t they have a new place together? I regretted the question immediately, as he said conspiratorially, “Do you handle divorce? May I tell you my whole plan in confidence?”

I didn’t, he couldn’t, and they only had enough money at the closing table to cover the mortgage, the taxes, the real estate broker, and my fee anyway. There was no leftover money!

When I asked for a forwarding address for the closing statement, she offered just one place, and so I mailed one document to both of them.  I don’t ever wonder if he executed his secret plan, but I do occasionally muse on how he thought he could pull it off.

No Salad For You!

High School Reunion Survival
Yes, you can survive a reunion, and completely enjoy it, even if you don't drink and stink at small talk!

My latest Huffington Post: Surviving a High School Reunion


Your Mother Should Know
He called to set up a real estate consultation, and then asked me for a favor. Would I try to talk his fiancée out of buying a house right away? “Let her know we should wait a few years before we buy,” he demanded.

I explained that the point of a consultation was for them to interview me, to see if I was a good fit to be their attorney, and/or for me to explain the process and costs of the real estate transaction. I wasn’t in the habit of discouraging suitable candidates, and certainly there was no hard and fast rule about waiting to buy. 

“I know, I get it,” he said. “But she wants to buy, and I don’t. If you say it’s too soon, maybe she’ll be willing to wait, and won’t be mad at me for bursting her bubble.”

I wondered if this wasn’t a topic a couple embarking on matrimony should discuss with each other, sharing their true feelings? You know, instead of looking for a lawyer to dampen the one-sided plan?

“Ha! You sound just like my mother,” he said.

He made an appointment but canceled it the day before we were to meet. I wonder how the marriage is faring.

Tossed Salad Friday
~~ When you tell someone her hair looks nice, you may expect “Thank you” or “Do you think so? I wasn’t sure about the style.” hair But would you ever expect to hear, “That’s because it’s clean”?

~~ Have you ever had gotten people who look nothing alike confused? There are two women working in a business that I visit a dozen or more times per year, and I know one is named “Bonnie” and the other is “Ronnie,” but I can’t remember which is which. After a decade of smiling, nodding, and inquiring after families, I don’t know how to find out.

~~ When the website says, “Our chef overseas our gourmet restaurant…” does that mean the menu is exclusively seafood?

~~ Is it too late for me to remain hopeful that one day I’ll awaken and resemble Stevie Nicks?

~~ You know the nasty woman I mentioned last week? The one I thought had done a turnaround, thereby inspiring me? She apparently kept revolving, once again displaying the full range of her bitch powers. What a shame.

~~ Overheard: “Why does Columbus get a day? Columbus ships NASA After all, he’s not that famous. If he was, he’d be on some American money.”

Have a wonderful weekend!

You Can Rely on Your Old Man’s Money
The deal was stuck in neutral. My client, the daughter of a very rich man, had a lot of money but no real source of income. Because of the scarcity of employment, her mortgage lender kept prodding her for more and more paperwork.

She began to bristle, and then she vented her frustration at me. “There’s nothing I can do” would not have made this particular client satisfied; she was used to getting her way. So I tried another tack.

“You can ask your dad to cosign, “ I said. “Just so you know, he’ll likely have to be at the closing.”

“No way!” She was fuming. “I am doing this on my own. Is there anything else you can suggest?”

I smiled and said, “Sure. You can pay cash for the house and do away with the mortgage altogether.”

“Perfect! I’ll get the money from my old man by Friday, and we’ll close it that way.”

I love self-sufficient people, don’t you?

Tossed Salad Friday
~~ It took every ounce of civility I possess to not yell at the man across the room who was telling a nodding companion, “You can’t convince me that Obama didn’t know Ebola was coming; he’s from Africa, you know.”

~~ There’s this:

~~ I don’t know a single person in Hong Kong, but I am pulling for everyone in the Umbrella Revolution.
~~ The woman was always exceedingly curt and grumpy whenever I saw her, so I avoided her. The other day, she sought me out to say “Good morning.” When I advised her that I was surprised to be engaged by her, considering her past behavior, she apologized. “I’m often in a lot of pain and don’t suppress it well.” She then offered me a compliment and a conversational nicety. The encounter led me to reflect on some of my other adverse judgments and aversions, although it’s rare to actually get the opportunity to revisit a situation to determine if second impressions are more accurate than first.

~~ I overheard a mom say to her child, “Kids don’t get privileges until they’re six years old, so stop asking.”
file000477941231I don’t know whether it’s more intriguing to speculate as to what those privileges might be… or bitch that I never knew about that rule.

~~ I have been seeing a doctor for a series of visits (nothing’s wrong with me, but as a close family member had an issue, I wanted to be sure that I was not similarly affected). Last week, I was running a bit behind and didn’t have time to stop home for a book or my knitting. I arrived at the doctor’s three minutes before my scheduled appointment, found that there was no parking, went to another building’s lot a quarter-mile away, hi-tailed it to my doctor, then sat for one hour in the waiting room, listening to the inane blatherings of some TV judge and reading a 2013 InStyle magazine. This week, I arrived 15 minutes early with knit bag in hand, found a parking spot right away, and saw the doctor within five minutes! (That judge? He asked two people whether they’d stay married if she hadn’t become pregnant, and when neither had a definitive answer, declared that they “both needed to try harder to impress me.” I coughed and tuned the show out again.)

~~ The freelance writer wanted to pitch me an environmental story. I was on the fence about his writing sample, so I googled a bit to see if I could find more of his writing. I sure did! Per his tweets, he’s pro-plastic bags, pro-fracking, and vehemently in denial about global climate change. And he wrote a Letter to the Editor last year bemoaning a ban on smoking at the beach. Adiós, dude. Maybe the Tea Party has an environmental column you can write?

~~ October 2014 cover The October issue of Boating Times Long Island is out. I hope you’ll enjoy it! http://boatingtimesli.com/NY/

Have an easy fast if you’re observing Yom Kippur. In any case, have a wonderful weekend!

I’m No Fixer-Upper
Caller:  Hi. I was recommended by[XXX], my brother-in-law. I got three traffic tickets over the last weekend.

Me:  Sorry. That’s not my area of expertise. Would you like the names of some colleagues who may be able to help?

Caller:  No, I don’t need names. I need you to work this out for me.

Me: [Brother-in-law] may not realize that I don’t handle such matters. The best I can do is try to help you find representation.

Caller:  Ohhhhhhhhh, I get it. You don’t call in favors for strangers, is that it?

Me:  No, that’s not it at all. Good luck!

Tossed Salad Wednesday
(I’m offline Thursday and Friday, so salad is on the menu today.)

~~ The grandma was lovingly describing her granddaughter’s maturity. She was, after all, “nearly 11.” Doesn’t nearly 11 sound like a wonderful age?

~~ My husband spotted this license plate in a parking lot. I love it!
mets car in lot

~~ Yes, I am still without a washing machine (and if I ever recommended the Whirlpool Duet to you, I apologize, as that company is neither consumer nor earth friendly). So I am sitting at my desk yesterday when I became bothered by what I perceive as my own less-than-pleasant aroma. Then I grow distraught, bemoaning the lack of clean clothes. This is ridiculous, I think, as I cry about the stink. Needing to clear my head — and my nostrils — I take a bit of a walk. As is his habit, my littlest pooch got underfoot; I bent down to apologize for almost stepping on him. Dear Mother of All That Reeks, the dog smelled putrid! He’d been rolling around in something malodorous outside, and needed a bath, STAT. There’s a moral here, I guess: Check your surroundings before concluding you’re the something smelly in the room.

~~ A reader emailed me to say that my clients “all sounded like PITAs and POSs.” I assure you, the majority were the nicest people in the world. In fact, they are the only thing I miss about practicing law. However, I don’t write about the great clients, because I can’t imagine anyone would regularly visit this blog to catch up on pleasant interactions with delightful people.

~~ Not five minutes after saying she’d been “under the weather,” the woman was dispensing advice on keeping well during the change-of-season. Seriously?

~~ Saturday is Hug-A-Vegan Day. No offense, but how about we skip the hug and you go meatless that day instead?

~~ It’s autumn and it’s Rosh Hashanah. apples Rosh HashanahOne arrival marks the end of my favorite season, the other kicks off a brand new year. In a way, it’s preferable to pray for a long, healthy, prosperous life over a return to flip-flop weather, so that’s what I’m wishing for you and yours, and me and mine.

Have a wonderful holiday if you’re observing, and enjoy the weekend. This is the last time I can root for the Mets in 2014, which is a good and bad thing.*
* http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2014/09/22/new-york-mets-imametsfanbecause-twitter-hashtag

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