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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Cousin Vinnie is Very Thankful

By Paul F. Alphen

            My Cousin Vinnie, the suburban real estate attorney, joined us for Thanksgiving on the Cape. We had Turducken (a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey) for the first time as an experiment. It was spectacular except for the subliminal memory I had of John Madden describing Turducken on Monday Night Football every Thanksgiving season, year after year. We also had a stuffed “side turkey” to make sure there was plenty of real stuffing for the gang.

After feasting, we retired to the living room to watch football and contemplate the status of things. During half-time, perhaps under the influence of tryptophan, Vinnie got philosophical. “Paulie, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I’ve got relatively good health, and relatively good relatives. I’ve made a modest living doing something entertaining and working with good people. You know, I’m even thankful for professional real estate brokers, the ones that go out of their way to keep the deal moving; they meet the home inspectors at the house, help find contractors to complete the required repairs and make sure the work is done and collect the receipts. My current favorite broker is a guy named Harold out of Plymouth who helped an elderly widow sell her summer house. He was instrumental in working out the price adjustment between the parties after the home inspection, and got quotes from electricians for required repairs.”

Former REBA president Paul Alphen
I agreed with Vinnie that a good broker is worth his/her weight in gold, and added that my friend Leslie is one of those hard working brokers. Vinnie wasn’t done: “I’m also thankful for the conveyancing bar, our brothers and sisters who appreciate that real estate law is more complicated than it looks, and go out of their way to work with everyone involved to close the deal. They are the ones, who when they represent a seller, will take a look at the recent online title record when drafting the P&S and will identify issues in advance and immediately start to cure them. They are the ones who make sure the P&S identifies the correct seller and the correct property description. I’m also thankful for the lenders’ attorneys who actually read the title reports and only reach out to seller’s counsel when there are real title issues; unlike those few characters that email the first two pages of the title exam to us with a cryptic note saying that all items must be addressed.”

I concurred with Vinnie, and retold my story about the seller who was represented by her son, the in house corporate attorney, who refused to show me the deed until I handed him a certified check.

My delightful daughter in law passed around a charcuterie board loaded with tasty things, and Vinnie had to pause his monologue while enjoying his meats and cheeses. But soon he continued: “I’m also thankful for my wonderful office staff. We made them adjust to the new TRID requirements, notwithstanding that nobody knew what the requirements actually were. They cooperated with our need for background checks and credit checks, they helped us secure our files, and they learned about new procedures and disclosure statements. They continue to deal with a variety of lenders, each who appear to have different interpretations of the TRID requirements.”

Vinnie took a sip of Kentucky bourbon, paused and smacked his lips. “Wouldn’t it be ironic if the new administration did away with the CFPB?” He started laughing at his own joke and found it hard to stop. His laughter was contagious.

A former REBA president, Paul Alphen currently serves on the association’s executive committee and co-chairs the long-range planning committee. He is a partner in the Westford firm of Alphen & Santos, P.C. and concentrates in residential and commercial real estate development, land use regulation, administrative law, real estate transactional practice and title examination. As entertaining as he finds the practice of law, Paul enjoys numerous hobbies, including messing around with his power boats and fulfilling his bucket list of visiting every Major League ballpark. Paul can be contacted at

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