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Lita Smith-Mines Headshot

11 Sure Business Bets

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Death and taxes aren't the only certainties in my life. In almost three decades of practicing real estate law, I've learned that there are certain occurrences that never vary and coin tosses that are destined to come up as "tails" every time. Whether my business is booming or sluggish, I'd never wager against any of these unwavering realities.

1. "This should be an easy deal" must never be uttered aloud. By anyone, lest the forces of nature swoop down and create havoc in unexpected ways.

2. Clients to whom you give a courtesy fee discount invariably have the deals that take the longest and make you work the hardest (usually, it is the other parties' fault, but nevertheless, you lose lots of money and erode the lining of your stomach while close friends and family save big on professional fees).

3. People will flatter you and undermine you almost simultaneously, like the attorney who remarked on how much she liked working with me at the closing, and then slipped my clients her business card on the way out.

4. People will trash you and then ask you to represent their family. An agent loudly muttered a few nasty words about making him wait an extra 45 minutes for his commission check while I dug in my heels until my clients' closing costs were reduced to what the mortgage broker originally promised. With a few weeks time, the potty-mouth agent referred both his daughter and ex-wife to me.

5. The attorneys who bellow the loudest know the least.

6. Listening is an effective form of negotiating. I often bide my time as counsel for the other party keeps talking (attorneys love to hear ourselves), until he or she ends up giving me tidbits of valuable information to bring back to my clients.

7. There is one hour every day when it occurs to all persons involved in every one of your transactions to call, e-mail and fax you. This hour varies from day to day, and the only way to predict when it will occur is to leave the office to run a quick errand or eat lunch away from your desk.

8. If you are not expecting anyone, someone will show up. And if you are positive no one will show up and decide to forgo your usual business attire and opt for shorts, a "Go Veg & No Body Gets Hurt" T-shirt and flip-flops, many persons will show up.

9. When business is moribund and no one has called you in hours, go to the bathroom. The phone will ring within 15 seconds, with someone who needs to hire counsel immediately and must move on as you're not available.

10. Any time you finally decide the leave the office is exactly five minutes before the person you've been trying to track down for days returns your call, precisely 10 minutes before they are leaving on an extended vacation.

11. If you receive flowers once the transaction ends, it means the deal certainly shortened your life expectancy. Don't skip your next doctor's appointment.