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Friday, July 1, 2016  
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Orlando REALTOR® | JulyAugust 2016

Respecting your customer's privacy is paramount to the very foundation of the real estate industry

A lesson from the ORRA Excellence in Professionalism - Gold Key Certification program

During the course of almost any transaction, it’s only natural for REALTORS® to learn a good deal of personal, sensitive information about their clients and customers and their lifestyles. Much of it will come as you seek to match a buyer’s needs with just the right property or hear about why the seller has decided to sell.

You’ll know the schools the children will attend, the parents’ occupations and where they work, what they do for recreation, their religious preferences, cultural backgrounds, pets, educational levels, shopping preferences, the cars they drive, and whether they expect to host out-of-town guests and how often, and on and on. You’ll learn about special needs, medical conditions, and disabilities that may dictate necessary home features, such as single-story and proximity to a hospital.

And, of course, you will become privy to the family financial wherewithal. How much down payment can they make? How large a mortgage payment can they realistically afford? How much equity are they bringing from their previous home? How soon before the children will be headed to college? Is there anything in their credit history that could be a stopper?

You may even become privy to their Social Security numbers, annual incomes, and other highly sensitive information, including even the results of background checks! Simply put, the average real estate practitioner deals with more confidential information daily than those in most other industries.

Clients and customers have a right to expect their real estate professional to safeguard their personal information and to be discrete about sharing it with others. Here are some basics about how to do just that:

Give other service providers in the transaction only the information they need to deliver their service.

  • Don’t indulge in office gossip about clients and customers.
  • Password protect your clients’ customer files, especially those accessible from your laptop or notebook.
  • Don’t leave notepads and files open on your desk when you step away.
  • When talking with customers on the phone, make sure it’s a private conversation.
  • If you enter an office where another agent is meeting with a customer, move on and don’t appear to be eavesdropping.
  • Respect your co-workers’ need to protect their customers’ privacy, whether it’s overhearing a conversation, reading a fax that is not yours, or checking out when someone else is printing or copying.

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