Logo
Phone Icon (302) 545-4420
Cart Cart
1100 Lovering Avenue, Suite 1210
Wilmington, DE 19806
adlib@comcast.net


Blog

BRANDYWINE VILLAGE NETWORK WHEN IS A USED CAR A NEW CAR? WOMEN WITH WALKERS SEX AFTER SIXTY: THE LITTLE RED APPLE
 
I ACCEPT, JUST SIGN HERE! WHAT A LITTLE EXERCISE CAN DO HOW I CAME TO WRITE “OUTSMARTING THE PROS” THE SECOND HAND FIRST DAY OF SUMMER CLASSES

BRANDYWINE VILLAGE NETWORK

Marketing Of The Brandywine Village Network
I continue to be surprised and delighted with what membership in the Brandywine Village Network offers. The most unexpected benefit of the network is not only the wide variety of services they offer, but also the opportunity to interact with other professionals concerned with helping seniors “stay in place” for the longest possible time.

We had the first “Brandywine Village Network Advisory Committee” meeting last week, and I was impressed with the caliber and diversity of the committee members. The meeting itself was so well organized that we were able as a group to set realistic goals and develop an excellent plan for action. All this from a meeting that lasted a little over one hour. This was largely due to the skilled guidance of the professional staff. So many times I have served on volunteer agency advisory committees where the only function of the committee was to rubber stamp what the professional staff has already decided! Or even worse, the meeting was only a formality that accomplished nothing of substance!

None of this was the case this time. We have already held a subcommittee meeting to report back to the advisory committee e with a strategic marketing plan including immediate and long term goals.

Although the program is under the auspices of the Jewish Family Services, it is a “stand alone” project designed to serve the entire Wilmington 55+ community regardless of their religion.

A key part of our plan is to be sure we increase the involvement of the entire community, not just the Jewish community. As we develop our plan in more detail, I am hoping some of the visitors to this web site will click on the “Brandywine Village Network” button on this web site, and invite us to speak to their group. We not only want to describe our services at these meetings, but also, hopefully, to recruit volunteers to help us execute our very exciting projects.

It is only with the help of a large base of dedicated volunteers that the Brandywine Village Network can fulfill its mission of keeping seniors “In Place” and helping them to function happily ad successfully in their own homes.


WHEN IS A USED CAR A NEW CAR? WHEN IS A USED CAR A NEW CAR?

CAVEAT EMPTOR! BUYER BEWARE! MY MISADVENTURE WITH CADILLAC:

I was terribly upset because Cadillac had sold me as a NEW a car that had over 5,000 miles on the speedometer when I believed I was buying USED car. I thought I was involved in a “bait and switch”.

I only found out that I had actually bought a “new” car instead of a “used” car, when I received the registration from the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles that listed the car as NEW!

What’s more, when I looked at the original contract I had signed I found that although they had listed the mileage accurately on the registration form, they listed the car as “NEW”.

When I complained to the owner of the dealership, he said that since it was still under the dealer’s title, and only “lent to” the Sports Celebrity who drove it for six months as an advertising promotion, it was considered NEW. I challenged this and pointed out that if I had bought the car, new, and returned it after only 100 miles it would have been called “USED”.

What was the difference?

The owner of the dealership stated that until the dealership transferred title to an individual purchaser, (in this case, me), the car belonged to the dealership and was considered “untitled”, and “NEW”. But once there was a title transfer, the car immediately was classified as “USED”.

I could not believe this. .I said that if I had just driven the car off the lot, driven just 100 miles and wanted to return it, the car was devalued as a USED CAR. Again he said that that was because I had now received title, and that was the technical difference.

I could not accept his word so I called the Lexus Dealership where we had purchased our second car and asked them what their policy was in a similar situation. They acknowledged that according to the Department of Motor Vehicles they could legally do exactly the same thing as Cadillac!! Moreover, there was no limit to how much mileage was on the “NEW: car!

Maybe everybody else knows this, but I doubt it.

My next step is going to talk to some official in state government, I don’t know whom, and see how this can be rectified or at least more fully disclosed to the public!

What do you think should be my next step?!


WOMEN WITH WALKERS

MEN NEVER FLIRT WITH WOMEN IN WALKERS!

Since I was born in 1924, I must acknowledge that THIS year, 2014, I’ll be 90! But I don’t feel that old, I don’t act that old, I don’t think that old, and don’t think I look that old!

My secret is “Dyeing and Dieting”. I still have my hair in its original color with highlights, (no less), I still watch what I eat, and only binge on chocolate occasionally, and most lucky of all I have inherited great genes, from several women who lived ‘til over 100!

But to go back to that darned walker, before I needed to use the walker, men often said, “I love your enthusiasm” or,” l can’t get over how fast you move!” or, ”Gee what great energy you exude!” etc.etc.ec. All said with a sparkle in their eyes!

Now with no change in me except the walker, (which I must use full time to prevent falling), they say, “My Dear, may I open that heavy door for you?” or “How can I help you get into the car?” or I can’t believe you’re still driving!” All this with no sparkle, just a condescending sympathetic look.

I guess I come by my desire to look good to men, no matter what my age or beauty, because of my Aunt Es, who graduated Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1916 and lived to just over 100. At about 94 she broke one hip, got over that and then broke another the next year. After her second hip surgery, in just a few months she was able to walk without a limp and without a cane.

It is only with the help of a large base of dedicated volunteers that the Brandywine Village Network can fulfill its mission of keeping seniors “In Place” and helping them to function happily ad successfully in their own homes.

When I asked her, “How Come?” she replied,” Oh my dear, if you had such a handsome young man as your physical therapist, you’d do as well too!”

Her grandmother Brina lived to 105 and outlived four husbands. She had a “gentleman caller” her last few years, and she lived independently. We only learned after she died that she was actually married to him. She didn’t want to tell anyone because he was 25 years younger than she was!!

I am so depressed using this darned walker, but I am too afraid to go without it because I have had five serious falls in the last nine months:

1. In July split the back of my head opened while wearing high heels,(Blood all over, (Vanity of vanities!), and falling in the church parking lot after a funeral, (four staples in my scalp);

2. In August I slipped on a stool while eating dinner, dented the stainless steel refrigerator

3. In September tried not to hit the TV when I turned too quickly and started to fall, raised my arm, caught the corner of the TV stand and broke six ribs;

4. In November missed the curb when fetching an order of Chinese food and broke my scapula;

5. Two weeks ago I fell on a wet kitchen floor and ruptured a tendon that ran from my groin to my hip joint!

My daughter says that my real problem is the walker spoils my illusion that I am much more spiritedly than my actual age.

Whatever it is, I hate to go to cocktail parties or to luncheons or any big social gathering because I hate to look like I am really almost 90! Before the walker, no one ever guessed my actual age!!

I’ve never felt “categorized, pigeon holed” ” as a “dear little old lady” , but now, the look in their eyes, tells me I am.

I feel trapped in a reality I just am not prepared to accept.


SEX AFTER SIXTY: THE BOOK THAT NEVER GOT PUBLISHED

As you know by now, I was the wife who liked sex!

When I was sixty and George was seventy, I began to hear from my female friends about “routine” hysterectomies for benign uterine tumors. At the same time the PSA test for possible prostate cancer were becoming common for men, and again without definite diagnosis of cancer, but just because the PSA seemed a little too high, many men were having prostate surgery which rendered them impotent.

Sexy me became alarmed.

After a little research, I discovered that both Gynecologist and Urologists were recommending such radical surgery because they assumed that sexual activity was practically non-existent people over 60!

So I decided to write a book, directed at physicians, but also for lay people, about sex after 60 being a pleasurable thing, not to be ignored.

I wanted the book to be based on good medical evidence as well as patients’ personal experiences, so I enrolled a Gynecologist and an Urologist to guide me.

After writing three chapters, I realized that I needed to be sure this book would be publishable and I needed to send it to an agent.

What Agent?

Mine of many years had recently died, and since she was “a one woman shop”, I had not a clue of how to find a new one.

I was stymied. Since I felt I had no audience and no path to successful marketing, I stopped writing.

And then another “LIBBY MIRACLE” happened.

My attorney son Peter was now in New York with a large network of friends, among them a small cadre of Tatnall School alumni. One of them was Scott Davis, (the son of one of my VIP real estate clients), the co-producer of an MSNBC program called “Real Personal”. He often called Peter to see whom he knew who might be an interesting guest on his program.

One day, shortly after I had finished my three chapters and shared my quandary about an agent with my kids, Scott called Peter and said “Whom do you know who likes sex, and is a credible person, not some kind of screw-ball?”

Remembering my need to find an agent, and knowing that Scott’s cable program was watched by many people in New York City where there might be an agent interested in my book, Peter answered, “My Mother”.

“Your Mother? The lady who sold my parents their big house in Westover Hills, the mother of you, Betsy, and Debbie, the wife of Dr. George Zurkow, I don’t believe it!”

A few days later a young woman from MSNBC phoned me, and after asking a few general questions, formally invited me to be a guest on a segment of the show which was scheduled to air in two weeks.

Of course I accepted, thinking this would be great opportunity to find an agent for my book.

Unfortunately, when I accepted I made a few false assumptions. First I assumed I understood what the title ”Real Personal” implied; second, I assumed the show was only aired in the New York/New Jersey area: and finally I assumed the format was that of a friendly talk show.

Any experienced potential guest on a TV show should certainly not accept an invitation without checking the accuracy of these assumptions.

But not naïve me!

I was so excited about appearing on the show, that once again I was like an innocent little lamb being led to slaughter.

The night before the show, for some unknown reason, I decided to look at the evening TV listings in the local paper. To my surprise, “Real Personal” was showing in Wilmington on MSNBC at 11 pm that night!

Big surprise! I hoped no one in Wilmington was watching the show. Full of curiosity, and some misgiving, I tuned in at 11 pm.

Nothing had prepared me for what I heard and saw. It was all sado-masochism in shadows, with a lot of explicit examples of how it was practiced.

I switched off the TV and frantically called Peter. “What have you gotten me in to?” I screeched into the phone, “Did you know what this program was really all about?”

When Peter finally caught his breath from my unexpected hysterical attack, he said, “I think you misunderstood, it couldn’t be that bad”, ”Well,” I said, “It is that bad and I’m going to get out of this. What’s Scott’s home phone number and where does he live?”

Peter didn’t have his phone number but he did know that Scott lived with his wife in Greenwich, Connecticut.

It was too late to call him that night, especially because I needed time to gather my wits, so I decided to sleep on it and call him early the next morning.

At 6 AM and “ready for Bear”, I called 411 ad asked for the phone number of Scott Davis in Greenwich Connecticut. To my surprise, there were three Scott Davis’s in Greenwich Connecticut.

I knew my Scott was married to Barbara, who was also one of Peter’s classmates at Tatnall.

I dialed the first Scott Davis and a sleepy woman answered, I asked, “Barbara?” ”Of course not, “she replied and hung up.

I dialed the second Scott Davis, asked the same question and got the angry answer, “Wrong Number!”

I dialed the third Scott Davis and miraculously, it was Barbara.

“This is Libby Zurkow, is Scott there?”

“Yes, but he’s in the shower”

“Get him the hell out of the shower right now” I screamed into the phone.

In a few minutes a foggy-voiced Scott answered, “Yes I know exactly what you’re calling about, I saw the show last night too. But it really isn’t like that most nights. We had a guest producer because I was out of town for a couple of days and I promise you it won’t be like that tonight.”

“I don’t care what you say, I am definitely not coming.”

“Please, trust me, you are the core of the show, and we have two very legitimate other guest, both professionals in the field of senior sexuality. Please, please change or mind.”

”Absolutely not. I have too much at stake with my Real Estate Practice to even think of appearing on your show, particularly now when I have discovered it will be seen in Wilmington.”

Long pause, then Scott said, “Tell you what, suppose I have Peter meet you at the train in New York and come with you over to the station in New Jersey. He can sit in the control room, and we can have a 7 second delay so that if there is something he thinks would embarrass you, we can cut it out?”

I still said”No!” and hung up.

About ten minutes later my phone rang and it was Peter on the line.

I just spoke to Scott and he told me about your call. I really think you should still do the show. Even if you don’t trust him, you can trust me, so please let me call him back and tell him that you’ll come.”

Well, Peter was very persuasive, so I called Scott right back and said I was willing to be on the show if Peter were in the control booth.

I took the train to Penn Station as originally planned, expecting Peter to meet me and use his car to drive me over to the TV station in Fort Lee, New Jersey. To my surprise, when I got off the train, there on the platform was a chauffeur uniformed driver with the neatly printed sign “Zurkow” just like one you would see at the airline terminals.

But no Peter!

I went up to the sign holder, whom I assumed was looking for me. Once I identified myself I immediately asked, “Where is my son Peter?”

“Oh he’s outside waiting in the car.” I handed him my luggage, and still somewhat confused, followed him out of the station. We went through a special private exit I had never noticed before, and there, standing beside a black stretch limousine, was Peter.

I was utterly confused because in our family stretch limousines were considered the choice of rock stars, the newly rich, “ostentatious” and “gross”. And not the kind of car that well to do, well-educated and truly sophisticated people chose for transportation. Why oh why, I thought had he hired this car?

Noticing my look of surprise, Peter immediately said, “MSNBC supplied the car and the driver, they just wanted you to have VIP treatment and be sure you got to the station comfortably and on time.”

Contrary to my expectation of being embarrassed to drive in such a 0stentatious car, I found the ride to the MSNBC station truly luxurious and yes, I did feel like a VIP!

When I arrived at the station, I was surprised because it was not the glamorous hi-tech building I’d expected, but looked like a recently restored, but still somewhat neglected, warehouse.

This was just the beginning of a series of surprises.

Just as I was getting my bearings, a young woman who introduced herself as an aide to Bob Berkowitz, the host of the show, arrived to go over the schedule with me.

She explained that after I was dressed, I would go to “Hair and Makeup”, and that Bob Berkowitz, would like to sit down with me to reassure me that the show would be tasteful and in not at all embarrassing.

Famous Last Words.

Little did I know that a 30 second bite of my own spontaneous answer to a question from a call-in would become a very successful, frequently run commercial for “Real Personal” that would be seen by my friends and family all over the United States, with some embarrassing repercussions.

First 0f all I need to tell you about the “ground rules” for live television; Anything you say on any show, unless specified as an area of your personal expertise, becomes the property of the show, to be used as they please without your permission. None of this did I know.

But let’s get back to what actually happened and how I happened to get into this embarrassing quandary.

Before the show began, after meeting with our host and the two other guests, (the “sex education professionals”), I felt more comfortable about appearing on the show.

After Bob Berkowitz’s opening remarks and a general introduction of the guests, he turned to me for what was the first “real personal” interview.

“Well tell me, Libby, about your sexual fantasies.”

I nearly fell off my chair.

“Nothing embarrassing” he had promised, so what in the world did he think “embarrassing” meant?

I guess Bob saw the shock on my face, so he quickly said, “If that is too personal you really don’t have to answer that question”. But by then I had recovered from my initial surprise, so I replied, ”As a matter of fact that’s not a difficult question to answer I’m turned on by men who wear hard hats!”

Bob then turned to e two other participants, and each of them had far less personal and more professional answers on the same subject.

Ultimately we became an informal panel discussing a wide range of sexual adjustment subjects. At last I felt comfortable, this was exactly what I had expected, because the talk was quite scientific and not at all embarrassing.

I shouldn’t have allowed myself to be that comfortable.

When I watched the show the previous night, once I saw the sado-masochism introduction, I had switched off the TV to call Peter. As a result, I never learned what happened in the next part of the show.

The second half of the show was devoted to “audience participation “ or “call-in-time”. The viewers could call-in and ask any panel member whatever question they chose.

The first caller on the line was a very young sounding female voice: ” “This question is for Libby I often hear about sexual fantasies, but how exactly do you use them?”

Again Bob leaned over and said,” You don’t have to answer that.”

“No” I replied, “I have an easy example that is not even very embarrassing.”

And so began my story that became a widely broadcast 30 second commercial for “Real Personal”, and quickly developed some amazing, amusing, sometime embarrassing and definitely unexpected “legs of its own.”

“One cool September morning when our3 children were either at college or boarding school, we were for the first time completely alone for breakfast. We had always had the tradition of big country breakfasts, every day, (not just on Sundays). I was in the kitchen beating the eggs when George came in and said “Good Morning Lizzy”. “Good morning”, I thought to myself, “what a stupid thing to say when he just got of bed with me, and so I went on beating the eggs. Then I said out loud without looking up,” George” go set the table, breakfast is almost ready”. He said again, a little louder, “Good Morning Lizzy” and I said impatiently, “Just go and set the table George.” This time he said, “If you don’t look up at me I am going to ’kill’ you!!”

And so I looked up: there was George standing at the sink, wearing a hard hat, a cigar in his mouth, a necktie around his neck, and not a stitch of clothing”

“That,” I said, “is how a sexual fantasy works.”

Bob immediately asked “So did you have breakfast,” and I answered, “Yes, but later.”

Of course I didn’t realize what became of that snippet until a few weeks later when my Great Aunt who lived in California was in the beauty parlor with a big TV set on the wall,. Suddenly one of her friends said, “Oh look there is your niece Libby on television!” and to her delight they turned up the volume, and she and all the ladies in the Beauty Parlor watched the whole sexy segment.

Of course she was horrified, embarrassed and shocked called me to scold me about disgracing her and the whole family. I had cousins all over the country, many of them very straight laced, who called to tell me I was a disgrace to the family.

George, who was a very good golfer, went out on the course the next weekend to be greeted by fellow golfers with the remark” So you like to wear a hard hat for breakfast!” Meanwhile I returned to my real estate office the following Monday to sideway glances and leers from my fellow REALTOR. Finally someone said, “we taped the show, and we never guessed that side of you!”

I thought my conservative bosses would ask me to leave before I further disgraced the company, instead they informed me that someone brought that tape of the entire show to the weekly executive meeting, and they though it was just great, and of course instead of losing my job I became a minor company celebrity.

A week after the program aired, our home phone rang at 11:30 pm and when I answered with my usual, “This is Libby Zurkow”, a husky male voice on the other end of the line said, “Libby I have on a hard hat, a necktie around my neck and I’m buck naked, talk dirty to me!” I made up a quick little lie,” You better get off this phone immediately because it’s being monitored by the police and they can trace this call!”

Dead silence. Then, after a few seconds, hysterical laughter.

“Oh Libby relax, this is your friend Barney Taylor” (who happened to be the President of Wilmington Trust, a major bank in our city), I didn’t mean to scare you. I thought your appearance on “Real Personal” was unbelievably funny, one of the best programs of theirs that I’ve seen, and I watch the program regularly.”

But that was not the last of it.

George was a much admired clinical professor of Endodontics in the graduate program at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine. Each year a small group of practicing dentists enter this graduate program, (at much financial sacrifice), to become Board Qualified Endodontists. The students come from all over the world to attend this prestigious program, and when they graduate, the University holds an elegant “graduation” dinner where they receive their degrees and the faculty gives awards to outstanding students.

In return the students select outstanding professors to honor. Each year George would get a plaque or a bowl as the most “whatever” faculty member.

The year of the MSNBC program, each of the honored faculty members opened their gift package on stage, to the applause of the audience. But when George opened his gift, there were no applause from the audience, just a confused dead silence because it wasn’t a plague or a bowl, it was a hard hat!!

Because George did not want to sully this festive and somewhat solemn occasion by linking it to an explanation of a slightly tawdry story about my solo television appearance, he decided not to give the somewhat “off color” humorous response that in other situations might have been appropriate, he simply said “Thank you”, and sat down.

Did I find an agent as a result of the program? The answer is a resounding “Yes”. Yes I did find an agent, and a very wise one, but not from the New York audience as I expected. Instead my top flight New York literary agent came through the recommendation of an old friend who lived in my home town of Wilmington, Delaware.

One of our country club friends, who was the largest regional magazine and paperback book distributer in the Brandywine Valley, also saw the show ,and shortly after it aired when he saw me at a the country club pool he asked, “Well “Adlib The Career Girl”, (his special name for me), did you ever find an agent?”

“Sadly, No,” I said.

“Well why don’t you give me a copy of those three chapters and I’ll send them off to a literary agent I know in New York who might be interested.”

So off a copy went to my friend David, and after he read it, he sent it off to the agent, Sadie Schore.

A few weeks later she called me to say she had read the three chapters, and yes, they were informative and amusing, and pretty well written for an ”amateur”.

In fact she would be interested in representing me if the rest of the book maintained the same quality of writing as those first three chapters. “You may not know how you do it, but you write funny! There’s a rhythm to your writing that an ordinary editor that I might assign to you might not be able to sustain. Therefore, if I am to be your agent, you must agree that you will be totally mine for the next year. No real estate marketing or sales, no cavorting off to Cannes with your sexy dentist husband: just writing and editing until you produce what I think might be a publishable book.

What a shock!

To think I would have to entertain such an exclusive agreement, with still no assurance that the book would ever get published, seemed untenable.

It was particularly unrealistic, because I was making beaucoup bucks that I was spending with no required accountability to my husband.

I could entertain lavishly, buy tickets to all the plush benefits, meet lots of new people, stay in the public eye, and all of it tax deductible as a” Real Estate Marketing Expense”!.

I also developed a special market for European investors who were buying condominiums in Wilmington for short term rentals. The rentors might be in-coming executives of ICI, DuPont and many other national companies ewho had not yet found permanent housing. Or even more lucratve ,were the short-term,high-paying renters who were out-of-town lawyers and their staffs who came to Delaware to participate in Legal cases before the Delaware Court of Chancery, that is a unique business oriented court available to those who were already incorporated in Delaware.

Almost all my home sale and investor networks that I had so carefully crafted over many years, would have to go “by the board” for the entire time I was writing the rest of the book.

The idea of giving this all up to finish the book, not knowing whether it would ever get published, giving up al that real estate income, which I loved to spend freely without discussing it with George, giving up my premium position in the local Real estate market, seemed untenable.

Most surprising to me was that writing those first three chapters, was terribly lonely.

I suddenly looked deep into my heart and discovered I was really not writing the book for the “noble purpose” I believed in, not to educate physicians and the public, but for something quite different: Money.

When, to my surprise I blurted out that one word, money, over the phone to Sadie, she said “Good, you are a true professional, and you sound like you’ll be a dedicated writer, which is extremely important to me. I don’t want to waste my time with someone who will quit in the middle of the project when the going gets tough. But before I agree to help you, I need to ask you one more question: if it’s money you want, how many books in the same “Genre” (women aver 60 writing about sex), do you think a person would buy in a year?”

“What do you mean?” I said, and then she dropped the bomb, “Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine is coming out with a “tell all” book of her personal life experiences with some rich and famous men, and you can bet that she is going to have a lot of media coverage to promote her book. So which book would you buy?”

That decided it for me right then. No book, full speed ahead in Real Estate.

So now there is a brown cardboard box sitting on the bottom shelf of my bathroom linen closet, labeled “Sex After Sixty” almost forgotten below the layers of sheets and pillow cases, and I have gone back to being the Barracuda of real estate.


THE LITTLE RED APPLE

From Libby Zurkow’s Grandfather, Bernhardt Smorack Author unknown

THE LITTLE RED APPLE

The little red apple that handily hung,
It played and it swayed and it tossed in the sun
‘Til it itched your fingers and tickled your tongue
For it was juicy and you were young,
But you held your hand and you turned your head
And you thought of the switch that hung in the shed
And you didn’t take it that day,
Or so you said,
But tell me, didn’t you want to?

Then you grew a little bit older,
The rounded maiden who passed you by,
Her cheek was dimpled and her glance was shy
And she flirted her skirt just a trifle to high.
Now you were young, and not too sedate
But you thought of the narrow way, and the straight-
So you didn’t follow her that day,
Or so you state,
But tell me, didn’t you want to?

Then you grew a little bit older
The Golden chink and the cybelant sign
That spoke of plenty of money in your day’s decline
The dream was dreamed and the play was planned
You’d nothing to do but reach out you hand,
But you didn’t,
Or so I understand,
But tell me, didn’t you want to?

Well you wanted to YES
But then, you know
The want to within you found a foe
That wanted you NOT to want to,
And so you were able to answer NO.

You tell yourself you’re pretty fine clay
To have tricked temptation
And turned her away

But just wait, my friend ‘til another day,
JUST WAIT ‘TIL YOU WANT TO WANT TO!


I ACCEPT, JUST SIGN HERE!

How many times in a week do you click on “I accept” on your computer or smart phone in order to download a new program or a new app, or some other update you have purchased for your electronic gadget? Yes, how many times, especially if you are in a hurry?

Maybe you don’t like to admit it, but maybe you do it frequently, as I often do, just to save time. And besides, you “trust” the party who is asking you to accept or sign the document without having to read every word of it.

Remember, especially in real estate, while you think your signature is for your protection as a seller, it rarely is. Today the agreement has been written to protect the buyer, not the seller. In this day of consumerism, it is no longer “Caveat Emptor, Buyer Beware” but rather Caveat Vendor, Seller Beware”©.

I must confess, I often sign without reading every word of the “fine print”, though I know I shouldn’t!

I am just like a lamb being led to slaughter.

I want to share with you two sad experiences, one in real estate and the other in the purchase of a new Cadillac. I hope they will serve as examples of “What not to do”.

I had sold, very quickly, to a young attorney/investor, a wonderful old mansion that had been converted to three luxury apartments. It had sold so quickly that it had not even been formally placed on the open market. The attorney had submitted, through his agent, a hand written contract to immediately remove it from the market. Once we had decided on final terms, the other agent said he would have a new duplicate contract with the final price and terms, typed up, so that it would be “clean” when the buyer took it to the buyer’s mortgage lender.

The original contract read that he was to take the property with the electrical panels “in place” for all three apartments and they would remain in in the basement until after the settlement.

It was an important condition because the Delmarva Power and Light Company were trying to get all the electrical boxes moved from the basements to the outside of all buildings in the city for easy meter reading. It had just become a code violation if these meters were not moved, except in older buildings which could be “grandfathered in”, only if it was specified in the sales contract that the buyer, not the seller, would pay for the moving of the meter after the sale.

As a result, in the original contract, there was a condition that the cost of moving the meters would be borne by the buyers.

When the final neatly printed contracts was drawn up and signed by the buyer, my assistant took the contract to the seller to sign.

Once we had made sure that the buyer had his financing in place, that the home inspection was satisfactory, no termites, no radon, all contingencies removed, we were ready to go to settlement, or so we thought.

Two days before settlement the buyer was to have a “walk through” at 10 a.m. In preparation for this, I arrived early to make sure we had access to all three apartments.

To my shock and disbelief, there was a large yellow notice on the door, “This building is in electrical code violation and until the meters are moved, cannot go to settlement”.

I had sold the sellers a big home in the country, and they had to have the cash from this sale for the down payment on their new house!

I called the other agent and he was surprised too, but he did call the buyer to see if he would go down to the public building and sign a release

The buyer refused to do it!

He said that it was not in the final contract which they both had signed, and therefore, according to code, the seller would have to assume the cost of moving the electrical meters.

I did not believe that omission was intentional on the part of the seller’s agent. I believed that the secretary in his office had miscopied the original contract, and I believed, had accidentally left out the phrase, “Buyer will accept electrical meters in as-is position”.

However, the savvy lawyer/buyer probably did pick up the omission and happily signed the contract, and immediately sent it over for my seller to sign, I naively advised them to sign the “duplicate” without my double checking the final version.

As a result, for good business reasons, I offered to pay the $4,000 to move the meters, and simply forfeited my commission at settlement to close the deal!

Moral of the story: READ, READ, READ!!

Next blog will tell you about my recent misadventure with Cadillac because I failed to read the final sales contract carefully, and it cost me about $20,000!!


WHAT A LITTLE EXERCISE CAN DO

I have been a “Borderline” diabetic for the past 6 months: blood sugar goes up and down. But yesterday a strange thing happened: I cheated and went crazy on chocolate things, expecting my sugar to be way up this morning, and instead it was the lowest it has ever been!

What was the difference? I went for an intensive physical therapy session to help reduce the numbness and tingling in my legs, and a gnawing lower back pain. As part of this program, I used the stationary bike for just ten minutes, and did a lot of in-place exercises. Is it possible that a little bit of exercise, nothing intense, could make such a difference in my blood sugar? In fact, not only had my blood sugar dropped 15 points, but much of my back pain and leg tingling, have subsided!
 
While I was there in the Physical Therapy room, I also noticed something that shocked me. Many of the people there were enormously overweight: just plain fat. They were all in some form of rehab, whether for hips, knees, back or whatever. I kept remembering when my grandmother had knee problems the doctors said “Lose weight and it will make it easier on your knees!” I wonder how many of these people, pre-surgery or post-surgery, would have benefited from the same advice.

One of the things most amazing to me in the PT, (Physical Therapy), session was to realize that my problem could so easily be solved with so little exercise as long as it was supervised and designed for my specific problem: tingling and numbness in my legs, lower back pain, all due to spinal stenosis.
 
I have often wondered how many other people had a similar problem, but never went to a neurologist who was interested in PT as a “partial cure” for this spine and leg problem. Neither my internist nor my orthopedist suggested this targeted exercise program, called “McKenzie (sp) Exercises”. I have only had two PT sessions within three days along with simple and relatively easy exercises at home. In the short time of these three days, much of the tingling has gone and my feeling of a gnawing pain is greatly reduced.
 
The neurologist wrote a prescription that will cover two months of professional PT supervision. I see Jim Nero, the therapist, three times a week, with “homework” three times every day.
 
I have friends with hips, knees, and back problems who thought going to a neurologist was “a little over the top”.
 
I happened to decide to go to this neurologist because I knew him well for the past thirty years, and besides he was one of my favorite clients.

I felt I needed an objective opinion from someone who knew me as an active senior, and would give me the best evaluation of what was wrong and what could be done about the problem.
 
I never thought that something as simple as McKenzie exercises could make such a huge difference.
 
I write about this because I feel I have a “mission” to tell my readers that before they have surgery ,or worse, before they give-up on themselves and simply endure the pain as part of old age , they should definitely see a neurologist who may have a completely different solution than all the other physicians’ they have seen.
 
One more fascinating thing I observed at PT. Many of the people who had just had surgery were being “rehabilitated” with the same exercises that I was doing! If they had been doing these exercises before surgery, would they even have needed to go through that long, painful and expensive procedure?
 
I realize that sometimes joints are really failing, and replacement surgery is the only answer, but I still wonder how many other problems besides my specific one, could be solved with carefully designed physical therapy rather than surgery.


HOW I CAME TO WRITE (OUT SMARTING THE PROS)

When I began teaching my class at the Academy four years ago, it was my intention to teach my “last time sellers”,(as opposed to “first time buyers”), all about the new forms they would have to sign, and the new rules of the game they should know if they were to successfully sell their house in today’s tough market. I called the course “Outsmarting the Pros©”, because that is what they needed to do. There is a phrase “Talk the Talk, and Walk the Walk” which is exactly what I hoped to happen with my class members.

They had probably not been in the real estate market for over 30 years. They were now scaling down and wanted to sell their homes, and thought the procedure would be just like it was when they purchased their homes long ago.

But that is simply not true. It used to be “Caveat Emptor”, buyer beware. But now it is “Caveat Vendor”©, seller beware.

In this modern age of consumerism, the customer is always right, and buyers want everything “perfect” and “ready to move in” when they purchase an older home. There are so many steps the seller must take, so many new forms they must sign to protect themselves from “Disagreements”.

Most of these forms are designed to protect both buyer and seller when properly understood and used. There are also new terms like “broker for the buyer” and “dual agency” that they must understand to be sure about who is representing whom.

In today’s market there are at least 12 steps the seller must take to persuade the buyer that they want to purchase a “used house” instead of a brand new one. In preparation for the first class, I spent endless hours preparing a Power Point Presentation.

First day of class, with 25 people in attendance, I turned off the overhead lights, closed the window blinds, and proceeded with what I thought was a terrific presentation.

When I turned on the lights back on I was surprised to see that half the class was asleep, and the other half was just waking up!

Well, I thought, this would never do. To recapture my audience, I would have to do something spectacular that would demonstrate why I wanted them to know all these important things. So I asked them if they would like to hear about how George and I bought our first house, without even knowing we bought it!

The class was intrigued, and when I finished the story, they were “disbelieving” and started to engage in a heated discussion of why we had been caught in such a stupid predicament.

That gave me the perfect opening to teach what I really wanted to teach. Now, using the story, I could explain the new forms which they must sign as part of the listing procedure which would make such a shocking event impossible in today’s market.

From then on, to demonstrate each form I was introducing, I told some horrible, funny story about George’s and my experiences in the real estate market over the past 57 years. By the time the class ended, I had 50 people in attendance!

Four years ago, only a handful of my class was computer literate. Most of them did not own a personal computer, so I printed out each form out and handed them out at the beginning of each class. I also put the forms on a disc, and used the forms on the video screen, reformatted in bold print.

Of course, I left the lights on and the blinds open!

By the end of the second year, I now had 60 people in the class. and when I asked how many of them how many of them had computers and knew how to use e-mail, to my surprise, most of them did!

I decided to e-mail as attachments all the forms I would discuss in class. Each week they would get one of these forms, perhaps to read at home before class, come to class for the funny story, and then discuss the significance of the form and why it was so important to use them. They realized most of these new forms were for the seller’s protection against future claims by the buyer.

Suddenly I got a message from Comcast that I was sending too many e-mails and had exceeded my “quota”. Something I didn’t even know about. The only answer according to Comcast was to buy a business class service at a great deal higher price.

At that point I decided to put all the forms on a flash drives and sell the drives to the class at exactly what they cost me.

When I posed this idea to the class, they thought it was great, and only one member raised her hand to ask, “Exactly what is a flash drive?”

Next semester, after I received the flash drives, and proudly distributed them to what were now 2 classes, I started getting calls from class members, “WHERE ARE THE STORIES.”

At that moment I realized that the classes had made me a “stand-up comic” and it was really the stories they came to hear, not the forms they needed to understand.

Teaching meant 95% entertainment and 5% learning.

And so the stories started to be part of the flash drives. But I had never written them down, and suddenly I was becoming an author, not just a lecturer at the Academy.

By the time I finished the stories for the next set of flash drives, I had written a 183 page book! Once I started editing them, I realized that they had become the story of my life, with all sorts of crazy personal details. Now, in an abridged form, I am sharing “Outsmarting the Pros” with all the people who come to my web site.

Of course I have copywritten the entire book, and planned to publish it with some major publisher. But in the meantime, I did not realize that when you copywrite a book, “vanity press” publishers immediately know about it, and descend upon the author with all sorts of wild offers. I was stubborn, and wanted an established agent to handle the book, so I disregarded these offers,

In another blog I will tell you the wild story of how my son Peter, as part of my search for an agent, got me on what turned out to be a “soft porn” cable television program!

But that is for another time. Hope you have a few laughs and enjoy reading the first chapter of “Outsmarting the Pros”.


THE SECOND HAND

BACKGROUND: Joe Thompson, a client and good friend, came up from Asheville, NC for four days to stay in my guest room while he and his partner Roi looked for the “perfect condo” back in Wilmington.

Like many of my older clients, they were ready to be “repotted”, unload many of their treasured possession, simplify their lives, but still retain their elegant and interesting lifestyle.
 
Once we found the “perfect” new home, Roi went back to work at his recently sold Beauty Shop in Washington DC, while Joe remained in Wilmington to wind things up and attend the unexpected funeral of a good friend.

After carefully reading all my entries on my web site, Joe said “Yes that’s all very well and good, but you only cover the Physical Self: where and how you are going to live, what you require physically in your older years. What about the Spiritual Self, the Aesthetic Self, the Fun and Games Self, and all those very important sides of your personal life you still want to retain no matter where you live?”
 
“What you need is a Second Hand, one that would deal with these most important Values”, “the “Quality Of life”, things you want to retain.”
 
But after thinking it over, I have decided THERE WILL BE NO SECOND HAND in my program because there are too many negative interpretations that go with the words “second hand”. The idea that something has been reused, tossed aside, as not very important, literally second hand would weaken the importance of the magic hand.
 
However, Joe’s idea is important and I hope to use it on the SOS web site, even without introducing the second hand.


FIRST DAY OF SUMMER CLASSES

I thought I was crazy to teach the summer session at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a continuing education program of the University of Delaware, henceforth just called “The Academy”!

It was my first venture forth since I started driving that was not to do an errand or go to a doctor’s appointment!

But that is simply not true. It used to be “Caveat Emptor”, buyer beware. But now it is “Caveat Vendor”©, seller beware.

I forgot how intellectually stimulating and fun it was to share my professional knowledge with an intelligent group of “Last time Sellers”©. I always start with a funny story which is actually one of James Thurber’s “Fables”.

It is the story of Little Red Riding Hood, you know the tale, but Thurber had a different ending. When Red Riding Hood arrives at the home of her Grandmother and opens the door and sees the wolf , in bed dressed as her grandmother, she says “You are not my grandmother, you are the big bad wolf!” and she takes out her gun and shoots the wolf dead!

The moral of the fable is “Little girls aren’t as easy to fool as they used to be!”

And so the members of my class are not going to be as easy to fool as they used to be!


Contact Libby at:

Phone (or Text):

(302) 545-4420

Email:

adlib@comcast.net