Do You Have Permission to Give Out Your Client’s Information?

Real Estate Agent with Liberty Homes RS-#62825

 It is our fiduciary duty to protect the personal information about our clients. We protect our client’s best interests and personal information while representing them in the sale or purchase of their home. It could make the difference in hurting the transaction and your negotiating powers let alone protecting their personal interests.

How often do you read a testimonial or story on someone’s blog or website and wonder if they had written permission to do so?  Even posting pictures of your client’s without their permission is not permissible.


Their personal life, their reasons for selling or buying a home is personal information and not for the Realtor® to give out unless the seller or buyer gives specific instructions to do so.  Giving out personal information is NOT anyone’s business but the clients and they expect us to protect their interests.

When a client does ask that I divulge why they’re moving, selling or buying then I make sure to get it in writing and go as far as to include it in the special terms of the listing agreement.  The seller signs off on the agreement and it is a specific part of the listing agreement. With a buyer it is in the form of their signed cover letter to the seller.

Blogs, websites and other online advertising.  I MAKE SURE TO GET WRITTEN PERMISSION with my signed permission and testimonial form should they agree to my using their testimonial, videos and pictures on websites, blogs and basically for advertising and marketing.

Needless to say, it is our duty to protect our client’s best and personal interests.  Not only is it our fiduciary duty, it is how we conduct business to protect all parties in each and every transaction.

Protect your client’s best and personal interest.

Get permission IN WRTING to use anything ...

.....that is NOT YOURS.




Posted by



Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


 © 2007-2015 Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman's

Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog.

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Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

In Texas we have a form called "Sellers Authorization to Release and Advertise Certain Information" that we can use for this.  Now... we just need one for the buyers. ♥




May 15, 2012 02:16 AM #24
Will Curry
SeaSocial - Seattle, WA
Seattle Social Media Management

Great post, Sally. Information is going to be the big debate in the next 10 years. I run SeaSocial a small social marketing practice and my customers are very concerned with Who owns the information, where can it reside, where can it be shared. Real Estate is really a pioneer in all these concerns. I think government is going to have to get involved, or at least catch up when it comes to the merging of real estate and social media though. The privacy policies we currently have in place are soo behind the times. Until then it's really up to the integrity of good, honest people like you and I to be responsible with the information of past and present customers. 

May 15, 2012 03:09 AM #25
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Sally, this is so important. When clients take us into their confidence, we have to be very careful about repeating anything without their permission.

May 15, 2012 03:11 AM #26
Barb Merrill
Cactus Mountain Properties, LLC - Tempe, AZ
GRI, Associate Broker

Excellent reminder!  It goes back to the Golden Rule.  Treat others with the same sensitivity as you would want to be treated.

May 15, 2012 04:14 AM #28
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Good idea to get everything documented and signed off - and say nothing that is not agreed to.

May 15, 2012 09:33 AM #30
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

At my first real estate company I worked for, I went into the basement to flip the breaker back on. I had to climb over stacks and stackss of paperwork to get to the breaker box. I complained about the fire hazard to my broker showing him a handful of papers. On closer inspection this paperwork had SSN# and cancelled checks with bank account numbers. The broker scolded me and told me not to go down there again...

May 15, 2012 10:00 AM #31
Kevin O'Rourke - Keller Williams Miami Beach Realtor
Keller Williams Miami Beach Realty - Miami Beach, FL
CDPE Miami Short Sale Agent 305-520-9436
Great advice Sally. We have to be on guard against disclosing many confidential things about our clients. Loose lips sink ships, and deals!
May 15, 2012 11:54 AM #33
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

You make a very good point.  I have various written and video testimonials.  I make sure that I have their permission to show the testimonial; however, I don't have a standard disclosure or permission form.  I will be looking into getting one from now on.  

May 15, 2012 12:22 PM #34
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

AMEN!  It amazes me how many agents call me after a a sale and say - can I have your clients contact information, I need. . . or this . . . anyway - NEVER do I give it out.  Thanks for your post. 

May 15, 2012 01:09 PM #35
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Sally,

I started working for Bank of America recently.

They are super specific about the fact that NO private information be communicated through their software system of choice!


May 15, 2012 08:11 PM #36
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Most sellers disclose lots of information themselves, but I usually have writtem permission to disclose certain things ( like existence of other offers, etc when they sigh listing agreement) even if I don't disclose anything. Potential buyers ask constantly ask the supidest questions liek " why are they selling"? Who cares why they are selling, if you're interested in buyng the house, look at it and make an offer if it fits your needs.

May 15, 2012 08:26 PM #37
Chris Jenkins-Sarasota Realtor
PalmerHouse Properties - Sarasota, FL
"Expect Success"

Very important reminder, Sally.  I'm constantly floored by all the agents who ask very personal questions about the seller and their situation and can't seem to understand why I don't provide answers.

May 15, 2012 11:20 PM #38
Rob Lang
At Home Kansas - Lawrence, KS
Local Expert in Lawrence Kansas Real Estate Homes

Wonderful advice Sally!!  I love it, though, when another agent volunteers info about their client that I can then pass on to my client to give them a negotiating edge!!


May 16, 2012 12:59 AM #39
Monica Hill
RE/Max Associates - Wilmington, DE
the REALTOR to help you discover Delaware

Great advice, Sally. It's so important as Agents to think before we speak. Do we have permission to say something? Will what we're tempted to say ever come back to haunt us? A Buyer client of mine made an offer which was rejected in favor of another offer. The listing agent said the other offer was $5,000 lower but it wasn't contingent upon the sale of a house, which ours was. (A voice in my head said.. he should NEVER have told mt that.) Two days later, he called and told me the other offer/contract had fallen through and that he wished they hadn't torn up our offer. Could I rewrite it and get it over to him? Called my Buyer, who knew what had happened before and, you guessed it, my Buyer said "let's offer $5,000 less." We did and the listing agent went ballistic. Said the Seller would go through the roof. The Seller rejected our offer, we went on to purchase something else. 

He should have kept that information to himself.

May 16, 2012 02:06 AM #40
Bill Fields
Bill Fields Learning Systems - Treasure Island, FL

Sally another good reminder to those that sometimes forget how the business is supposed to be done. Thanks.

May 16, 2012 02:15 AM #41
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Madison & Co Properties

It is interesting how many agents will tell their client's life story when asked... NOT me!  But I had never thought of not using a testimonial without written permission.  

May 16, 2012 08:26 AM #42
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good point.  Although if someone prepares a testimonial for us they should understand we are going to publish it.

May 16, 2012 02:24 PM #43
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi SALLY, I agree!  Too often agents forget how much confidential ino they have.  Especially with short sales.

May 16, 2012 07:54 PM #44
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

Indeed, it is important that clients know their testimonials are going to be used on the internet!!! Great point, Sally!

May 20, 2012 02:25 AM #45
Randy Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645

It is amazing how far some folks are willing to push the limits or cross them.  I don't get it.

May 30, 2012 06:40 AM #46
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