Daily Archives: April 8, 2010

So we sent Bernie Yudain off today

Huge funeral – I’m afraid that when I die my only mourners will be those attending just to make certain I’m dead but Bernie drew a crowd of hundreds, all friends, all people who loved him.

And it was a great remembrance for this astonishing, acerbic, kind man, mentor to so many. And we learned so many details! I knew Bernie was a kid in his 20’s when he served as a war-time correspondent in London, for instance, but his father was a cavalry officer for the Czar? Bernie never told me that!

What a man, what a tribute. 9/11 ruined funerals for me and I haven’t made it through one whole since, but I got all the way through this celebration of a great man’s life until the very end, when the minister announced that Bernie’s favorite hymn was Onward Christian Soldiers and the organ led us out on that hymn.

Pal Nancy knows that this is my favorite hymn, too, and has promised to conclude my funeral with it. When it started today, I lost it, but as a wonderful Jewish friend seated next to me pointed out when he saw my tears, every funeral needs a visible mourner. I may have a supplemental source of income here, attending funerals and weeping, no matter how joyous the rest of the congregation is. Rest in peace, Bernie.

(But if and when you do attend my funeral, know that “Onward” is to be sung with gusto! No namby-pamby organ like that accompanying the link above. I have sung this song as a celebration of life, once, long ago, with an Australian girl in Athens, when we were studying Plato under John Silber and going to the Plaka at night. After hours with the bouzouki players and barrels of wine we’d take the street car back to campus, singing this and Waltzing Matilda. These are, or should be, both songs of celebration and of life, not dirges. Remember that when I die, Clyde, would you?)


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Obama hates Israel

From my own “I told you so” files and, more immediately, InstaPundit:

ROGER SIMON: BREAKING: Obama Administration Denies Visas to Israeli Nuclear Scientists. “This could be yet another flashpoint in the increasingly sensitive relations between the administration, the American Jewish community, and Israel.” Face it, Israelis — he just doesn’t like you that much.


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Buyer’s rep agreements

"What we have heah, Boy, is a failure to kommunikate!"

A reader’s question about breaking buyers’ representative agreements has stirred my ire (admittedly, a task that is too easy). I’ve discussed this topic before, but as a brief refresher, know this:

Until – what, ten years ago? – the law of agency governed real estate agents. We were all considered to be agents of our principal and as such owed our complete loyalty to the house seller, since he was paying us.

Now that body of law, going 500 years back to English common law, makes perfect sense in most cases of agency; if, in 1670, an agent of  Dutch ship owners was dispatched to Africa to buy slaves for the owners and ship them on for sale in the sugar plantations of the Caribbean, he was expected to represent only his principal – he was not expected, or allowed, to side with the slaves, their Moslem owners or indeed, anyone else. If he betrayed his principal he was liable for the economic harm that resulted.

But four hundred years on, real estate agents began to fall from this perfect sphere. One half of every house sale involved an agent who, usually, had never met the seller and who often had spent months or even years with the buyers finding the proper house. It was absurd to think that the buyer’s agent owed his complete loyalty to the seller and owed nothing to his buyer, yet that’s what the law demanded. And indeed, in my years as a real estate lawyer, I reminded buyers’ agents of exactly that. Any agents out there who remember me from the 80’s, I apologize, but I was representing sellers and I did know the law.

So anyway: the law of agency was changed awhile ago, and the idea of a buyer’s agent was for the first time recognized by our Connecticut legislature. Now, so long as we have a signed agency agreement, we can represent the buyer in a real estate transaction and give him our complete loyalty despite the fact that it is the home owner on the other side of the deal who will be paying a commission and thus, our fee. Pretty cool, eh?

But, under the terms of this legislative exemption from the standard law of agency, there must be a signed agreement between the buyer and her agent. A signed agreement saying what?

My professional organization, the Connecticut Association of Realtors (CAR), saw an opportunity here and quickly drew up a model agreement that deliberately left openings for their members to lock unsuspecting buyers into long term bondage, where they can only buy houses through the agent who first signed them up. And since the law, as drafted, demands that this agreement be signed at the first face-to-face meeting between potential buyer and agent, the worst agents responded by filling in contract durations of six or even 12 months and encompassing all of Fairfield County.

It’s totally nuts – a law that was intended to help home buyers was corrupted, instantly, into a rip-off scheme where buyers are trapped into a relationship with the very worst of real estate agents: those who, so insecure about their ability to provide a valuable service, trick them into involuntary servitude.

Etcetera and enough. The CAR has corrupted this whole idea and its legal counsel has refused to even consider my own draft of a buyer’s rep agreement that would leave the buyer free to move on after a day of house touring. Which is understandable – CAR’s lawyer, Eugene Marconi, is an agent of his principal and owes his complete loyalty to the brokers who pay his salary.

More disappointing is the state Department of Consumer Protection, which spends its time scurrying around inspecting brokerage firms’ records to ensure that there are indeed signed buyer rep agreements in their files, without ever even considering whether those agreements are fair to consumers. It’s off their radar.

Okay, so how do you break one of these lengthy agreements that you so naively entered into? If you already have a lawyer involved in your home search, call her – she’ll raise Holy Hell with the brokerage firm involved, and that should do it. But otherwise, as I advised my (other) reader, send me the names and particulars and I’ll post them here on a wall of shame. I’m certainly ashamed of how the worst of my colleagues have abused this law, and I’d be delighted to spread that shame to the perpetrators.


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They didn’t want a nocturnal omission, doubtless

Oprah’s network will air a nighttime version of her show.

Comments Off on They didn’t want a nocturnal omission, doubtless

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The lower end stirs, a little


5 Arnold Street


This Havemeyer house was renovated in 2005 and put up for sale ten days ago for $1.095. Today it’s reported as pending. I hadn’t thought we’d see Havemeyer break a million again for a long time but obviously, I was wrong.

26 Summit Rd

26 Summit Road is also reported as pending. Its builder couldn’t sell it in 2008 when he listed it at $2.195 million so he rented it out. In came back on two months ago at $2.095 and found a buyer.

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The Onion: Pope vows to bring pedophelia down to acceptable levels.

Good luck on that, fella.

The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine. Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of “tender, tender young flesh” had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.

“The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation—it’s simply unavoidable,” Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries.”

“The majority of priests don’t want to molest kids at all,” he added. “But for those who do, we must make sure they’re doing it at a reasonable rate.”


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Oh yeah, that part!

Virginia Governor amends Confederate history proclamation to include reference to slavery. ” We call that our little eyesore”, moron says.

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Bet there aren’t many contractors in town ready for this one

Reader Island Surveyor sends along this new federal regulation governing contractors:

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 4:12 PM CDT

Beginning next month, federal law will require that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified in the new EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and follow specific work practices to reduce human exposures to lead. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can crate hazardous dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children. To protect against this risk, on April 22, 2008, EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. All contractors must be trained and certified by April 22, 2010.

There goes your thousand dollar bathroom re-do.

UPDATE: Oooh, this is going to be fun. The rules, including mandatory training, apply to plumbers, electricians – anyone who works on your house, basically.


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This seems unfair to Kathy Lee – it was Frank who messed around, after all

Tiger Woods is back in the endorsement game, the WSJ reports, but starts at lower spot.

Research suggests that Mr. Woods faces a long struggle to regain his previous luster. Davie-Brown Entertainment, an Omnicom Group Inc. unit that tracks celebrities’ appeal using online consumer polls, says Mr. Woods was the 11th-most-effective product spokesperson before last year’s disclosures, ranking alongside Bill Cosby and Paul Newman. In the firm’s most recent ranking compiled on March 22, Mr. Woods was No. 2,256—on a par with exercise guru Richard Simmons and talk-show host Kathy Lee Gifford.

Reached at her usual spot under a table at Valbella’s, Greenwich Time gossip columnist Susie, mumbling around what appeared to be a sausage in her mouth, declined comment.


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