The season for gift-giving, real estate style

The occasion for closing on a house deal is frequently marked by a real estate agent giving the new owner a gift. An odd custom, at best, and one that seems to run counter to the philosophy that you gift those who provide you with a service: teachers, waiters, the gardener at the holidays, maybe even the latte maker at Starbucks who automatically starts up the little machine when he sees you walk in the door each morning.

So why do real estate agents spend an average of $51.80 come closing time on a buyer?

According to a 2009 Realtor Magazine reader profile study, it's a way of saying "thank you." Although in this economy, many clients might be more appreciative if their agent would cut their commission or spend more on marketing so the home didn't linger so long on the market.