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Lita Smith-Mines
I’m an attorney in New York with a private practice focusing on real estate. In my blog, Tales from the Real Estate Wars, I share my personal take on (mostly) real estate.

I am also the owner and Editor-In-Chief of Boating Times Long Island, a lifestyle magazine dedicated to enhancing the enjoyment of Long Island’s waters and waterside attractions for boaters and others.

Entries by Lita Smith-Mines

Surviving a High School Reunion

(0) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 12:03 PM

I attended my (gasp!) 40th high school reunion -- and lived to tell the tale.

In the months leading up to the reunion, I'd searched without success for a primer for people in dread of such a milestone event. Sure, there were bloggers with advice on ways to re-kindle...

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Optional Obligations

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 5:05 PM

There's something about the making of plans and the scheduling of meetings that doesn't seem as concrete as it used to be. Have you noticed it as well?

I make plans with people I really like, note the meeting notices of committees I volunteer to join, and RSVP positively...

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Yoga Tips for Newbies

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 8:53 PM

I've been devoted to practicing yoga for about eight months now. Though I'm altogether smitten and periodically blissful, I don't possess the expertise to enlighten anyone reading this post about the many wonderful elements of yoga. However, as is my nature, I have watched, experienced, and eavesdropped upon others, gathering...

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Not-Yet-Knocking on the Real Estate Door

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2013 | 2:20 PM

During the first few decades of my career as a real estate attorney, the question posed by clients was, "What will buying (or selling) cost me?" When bad things hit the fan, an era of "How low will the seller go?" was launched, followed by a backlash period of, "Which...

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Uncertain? Don't Buy a House

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 5:26 PM

There's a drowsy undercurrent of indecision that's keeping a full real estate recovery at bay (that, and lenders, but that's a blog for a different day). When I read predictions for a solid economic revival sooner than later, I wonder if forecasters are counting on home sales to a shaky...

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Real Estate Pity Party

(5) Comments | Posted July 9, 2013 | 4:36 PM

If I wasn't messing with multiple breaches of confidentiality, I might throw a party for some of the broken-hearted people tossed to the sidelines during the tumult of our recent real estate market.

First to arrive would be those who showed up too late for the lowest interest rates. They...

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What My Mother Failed to Teach Me

(5) Comments | Posted May 9, 2013 | 5:51 PM

My mother was a first-class knitter. She'd see someone wearing something beautiful and head home to recreate it. No pattern was necessary; her fingers knew what to do.

Periodically, for the better part of a decade, Mom would try to teach me to knit. She'd help me...

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Refinancings Come Into Focus

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2013 | 6:34 PM

Recently, I've met with quite a few people refinancing their homes. They are not cashing out on higher equity; in fact, many of the homes are barely bobbing above the water line. These homeowners are moving from interest rates over 6 percent down into the 3 and 4 percent neighborhoods.

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I'm Still Here!

(2) Comments | Posted January 13, 2013 | 2:18 PM

Over the course of 20 years or so, there were days when I thought I'd never live to see today. At first, the thoughts were fleeting; over the past year, they were consuming. Is this the day a test result confirms my non-specific trepidation? Would I go to sleep on...

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Hear No Hardship

(2) Comments | Posted December 3, 2012 | 10:24 AM

The women sitting at a restaurant table barely five feet away were especially loud and particularly caustic. I'm not a member of a book club, so I don't know if it's de rigueur for literary associations to throw back a few cocktails and to unsheath verbal knives at holiday get-togethers....

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Surrounded by Strangers

(2) Comments | Posted November 1, 2012 | 8:04 PM

The storm known as Sandy walloped the hell out of most of our area. Yet before it roared, and after it subsided, I found myself experiencing emptiness utterly unrelated to the winds and tides: I didn't know my neighbors enough for us to weather any storm together.

Messages urging me...

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May I Practice Law... On You?

(2) Comments | Posted September 11, 2012 | 8:07 PM

The recently-admitted attorney asked if she could accompany me to a closing. She advised that she wanted to get the feel of the real deal "so that I can fake it until I make it."

I'm happy to lend a helping hand to a new colleague (hello, extra competition), but...

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Lose Your House, Gain a Landlord

(4) Comments | Posted July 30, 2012 | 5:14 PM

Landlords who hire me to draft leases usually do a very good job of screening tenants. They check credit, employment, and bank statements, and reach out to the prospective renter's last two landlords whenever possible. However, this landlord looking to engage my services proclaimed that after 15 years of examining...

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Tired of Climbing Up the Real Esate Ladder

(3) Comments | Posted June 21, 2012 | 5:55 PM

The would-be home buyer didn't like my advice about selling her house before she went to contract on another one.

"That won't work. I won't have a place to live. There aren't many homes to buy in my price range," she said.

Having represented her over the years...

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Home Sellers Push Back

(7) Comments | Posted April 22, 2012 | 6:32 PM

The undercurrent of disgruntlement running through residential real estate these days is decidedly different. Like the flowers that bloomed early, a number of sellers are trying to burst out of the basement and make their way above ground.

As an attorney focused on real estate, I represent buyers or...

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Penniless Counties Repel Purchasers

(17) Comments | Posted March 11, 2012 | 6:14 PM

I thought I'd heard every excuse for not buying a home in our current real estate market. There's the practical reason, "I can't be restricted to the local job market," the prediction defense that "I'm waiting because prices are still falling," and the pragmatic justification of "All I can afford...

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Keeping Local Business Afloat

(0) Comments | Posted February 15, 2012 | 11:32 AM

"I came here to spend money!" exclaimed a visitor to our table at the recent Long Island Boat Show. Within moments of meeting her, I wanted to hug her.

She told me that she received her first raise in three years (a "good, good one") and though she had to...

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Begging to Borrow

(9) Comments | Posted January 22, 2012 | 3:31 PM

The closing location appeared as empty as if the bomb squad had just evacuated the building. What else could explain the choice of parking outside and the absence of people inside?

Usually, stepping into the waiting room at this attorney's office felt like wiggling into too-small jeans. You might get...

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Mets' Fans Want R-E-S-P-E-C-T

(14) Comments | Posted December 25, 2011 | 8:19 PM

The New York Mets are seeking $20 million from minority investors. Though any bucks in a storm will do, the target investors aren't those content to see a modest return. No, the team who can't find its back pocket with its catcher's glove is hunting for that small segment of...

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Middle Class Masquerade

(13) Comments | Posted December 1, 2011 | 10:21 AM

The home seller sobbed when she heard her real estate transaction fell through. "I've got to get out of here," she let me know for the umpteenth time. "I can't keep pretending to be middle class."

Though I offered my cellular shoulder to cry on, I couldn't give her what...

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