Skilled magicians and lawyers are alike in their ability to amaze and baffle. Both can take one thing that is clearly one thing, and before our eyes make it be another thing. I could watch a magician for an hour, but a lawyer will keep me mesmerized until sunset. With a flip of a word, a comma out of place, an interpretation of a definition of a word, lawyers turn believers into doubters with remarkable ease.
“There is nothing going on between us..” Bill Clinton had not lied under oath he contended, after facts of his relationship with an intern had become known. “It depends upon what the meaning of “is” is.” from the perspective of the President, an accomplished attorney well versed in the art of twisting words to alternative logical conclusions.
Contracts used in real estate transactions are created with heavy input from lawyers. If a lawyer wrote a sentence, there is a good chance every word has relevance. It may depend on the meaning of the word, and as long as the meaning is questionable, the outcome is disputable.
Licensees draft contracts to an extent. Well we fill in blanks, check boxes, and within limits we free hand write some conditions the parties will rely on. When getting an offer accepted or moving on to the next step is most important, care for proper sentence structure, punctuation, and definition of terms are at risk of being overlooked. Our license law requires we write what the client directs us to write. If we are surmising the intent of what the client wants, we’ve come up short. Getting it right is expected of us.
And when we get it wrong, all is well, until it isn’t. Regardless of how kind, eager, committed, friendly, related, a person is to the licensee, when the source of conflict in a real estate transaction is traced to the licensee, there’s a better than good chance we’re going to lose. As long as we are willing to spell out a person’s concerns, plans, expectations we are exposed to being challenged. I actually like that challenge. Not everyone does and I understand. There is no reason to fear consequences when you develop your contract drafting skills. With all of the free University education on-line, becoming trained by the same people who teach lawyers is possible. We don’t have to become lawyers to think from the perspective of a lawyer. Just be a learner. It’s worth the effort, but you won’t know it until there is a problem and it has nothing to do with your role. Here is a link to one resource for access to 1,300 universities. Take your pick, Oxford, Harvard, MIT. Oh, you don’t need to be a contract geek to get better at drafting, you only need to want to learn.