We’ve staggered past the December holidays and are heading toward Valentine’s Day. But the best way to say, “I love you” to your professional colleagues is to stick to the resolutions you should have made back at New Year’s. Here are some resolutions for dirt lawyers and agents to set a new tone for 2006.

For attorneys practicing residential real estate:

  1. I resolve to treat real estate agents with the respect they deserve as fellow professionals. The No. 1 gripe that real estate agents have with attorneys is not, as one might expect, that attorneys kill deals (although the deal-killing lawyer is a staple of real estate agent humor). Most agents realize that not every deal will close, but they do expect to be treated with respect. Real estate agents do not attend closings just to pick up a check or listen to your riveting explanation of the closing documents. They attend because they feel they should out of respect for their clients. While lawyers may not put much stock in the real estate agent’s training and education, agents are very sensitive to disrespectful treatment, and they will share your treatment of them with their fellow agents.
  2. I resolve not to be envious of the broker’s commission check. How many conveyancing attorneys have looked wistfully at the commission check and compared it with their own measly fee? Keep in mind, however, that real estate brokerage practice is akin to drilling oil wells. Agents drill many dry holes and invest hundreds and thousands of dollars in marketing without return. That commission check, once it has been split four — and sometimes five — ways, must pay for the marketing and cover all those dry holes.
  3. I resolve not to opine about the value of property. This one ranks right up there with disrespectful treatment in real estate agents’ gripes. You may have practiced in the area for many years, you may have done thousands of closings, but you do not have at your disposal the accumulated sales information contained in the multiple listing service. The agents have access to that information. If you have a doubt concerning the value of the property, take it up with the agent and not with your client, who will tell the agent that you said that the property was sold too cheap.