Preserve Confidentiality Information in the Simplest of Ways

It’s come up several times this week that agents have been sending email messages to other agents or attorneys that contain previous ‘conversation’ threads with their client. For example, a buyer’s agent has an email back-and-forth with their buyer client about making an offer. The price strategy is discussed – and then the REALTOR uses that email thread as the basis for sending the offer to the listing agent, unaware (??) that they’ve just shared a bunch of of private messages that will harm their client.  Same has happened with attorney messages.  Please ALWAYS start new e-mails instead of forwarding messages so that you don’t inadvertently let client conversations slip past. Other agents and attorneys have a FIDUCIARY duty to share anything they learn that could benefit their client and it surely muddies the waters.  Also, please note that attorneys must read and typically print all of the messages received – do not forward client information or cc them on every conversation as a “FYI” if there is no action needed by the recipient.  This can drive up costs to your client by making the attorneys print and review loads of information they don’t normally see because some hit “cc” when it’s not necessary.

In that same vein, you are responsible to deal only with your client and your clients contractors (lenders, attorneys, inspectors, etc..) and NOT the professionals working for the “other side”. That is the agent’s job who is representing that client.  So, seller’s agents should NOT be sending information directly to the buyer’s attorney or lender unless the buyer’s agent specifically asks them to do so.  Alternatively, the buyer’s agent should not be contacting the seller’s lawyer or sending them a “bill” for cooperative commission.  When parties are represented all dealings must go through the AGENT unless otherwise agreed.

Finally, the Contact Worksheet – the buyer’s agent should complete that worksheet to their best of their knowledge and send it to the buyer’s lender and attorney. The buyer’s agent should know, if nothing else, all of the buyer info, the name of the seller as shown on the P&S, and seller’s agent and agency contact information and license data from the MLS.  The lender and attorney can get contact the listing agent to get emails or phone numbers for the seller, if needed.  It doesn’t really need to be more complicated than that, as far as confidential info.