Al and Cal Homes and Community: Why I can't update you on the progress of your neighbors home

Why I can't update you on the progress of your neighbors home

Why I can't update you on the progress of your neighbors home.

Ever since the first days of my real estate career over 25 years ago, the questions most asked of me after meeting a new or old acquaintance are "How are you?" followed by, "How is Real Estate?"

So naturally it comes as no surprise to me when a good friend asks me to "fill" them in on what's happening with a home that is on the market or is pending.     People are always curious about the happenings in their "hood", but you know what, as much as I love you and as much as I would love to "dish" with you, I can't.     I can't because I have a serious fiduciary relationship with those folks that are selling or buying their home through me.   Regardless, it just isn't right. 

And, if I am not their agent and don't owe that confidentiality to them, then I probably don't know the inside details of what is going on in that transaction.    It would simply amount to gossiping....  gossip

....and, while I love to solve the problems of the world with my friends over a glass of wine, to do so in this case would be purely and simply unprofessional.    

When representing either a buyer or a seller, an agent has a fiduciary relationship to that client.  

What does that mean?

In a nut shell that means that we owe those clients our confidentiality and loyalty, and not put our personal interests above theirs.

Basically, not to talk about their stuff!    It's a very serious thing.   Not to be taken lightly.   

So while I might love to answer your questions, I can not tell you what those folks are accepting for their home.   I can not tell you what happening during the inspection and the like.

Please respect our friendship.  Don't ask your Realtor friend for the inside scoop!  

I would sooner tell you what I weigh!      Can't do it.  Won't do it.  


About the author

Carol-Ann PalmieriCarol-Ann Palmieri, a full time Real Estate professional in Massachusetts for the past 24 years along with Al Mussi have helped hundreds of families find, sell or purchase new places to live.

A former US Marine, she grew up in Walpole, MA...  is committed to the serving the community through various volunteer opportunities.   She attended MA Bay Community and Suffolk University and is committed to constantly updating her Real Estate education. 

Licensed in MA and RI...

Al and Cal's primary areas of service Franklin, Bellingham, Medway, Millis, Medfield, Norfolk, Wrentham, Plainville, Blackstone, Walpole, Milford, Holliston, Hopkinton, Mansfield, and Foxboro, North Attleboro, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville but have resourses to help anyone, anywhere....

Her mission....  To exceed your expectations!

Carol-Ann Palmieri

Al and Cal Realty Group

Remax Executive Realty




Comment balloon 57 commentsCarol-Ann Palmieri • August 10 2012 05:44AM


I think people understand this when you explain it, they just dont know coming into the question.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) over 6 years ago

People know that if you tell other people's secrets, you will tell their's, and though they like to hear the 'dirt,' they won't respect you for telling, even if you would.

Sarah in Nashville

Posted by Sarah, John Rummage, Love Being Realtors® in the Nashville TN Area! (Benchmark Realty LLC, Nashville TN 615.516.5233) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann..... you are one very funny blogger.... you make me laugh and this is a suggested post...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 6 years ago

I agree with you whole heartedly Carol Ann, although I can't say that anyone has really asked me anything of that nature with one of my sales or another.  However, if they did, my answer would be the same as yours...nonya :)!

Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 6 years ago

Hi Chuck.    Usually right.   I just hurt someones feelings by not "trusting" them with the skinny.    Thank you.


Hi Sarah in Nashville.     I would think the same thing.  Thanks for reading!


Hi Barbara.   Thanks for the S.    Funny?   Oh you mean the weight thing.   That was serious!  LOL.   


Hi Brenda.    I have some inquisitive friends!    Thanks for checking in!

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

Good morning Al and Cal - very important post, especially for those of us who do a lot of work with an interconnected sphere of influence.

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 6 years ago

Great post! Folks will ask very blunt questions, "did that family declare bankruptcy? how behind are they on the mortgage?" Neither of which I would dream of answering.

Posted by Doug Rogers, Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent (Bayou Properties) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann, you are becoming our in house comic here in making the true way things should be handled...boy I find it is not...great post!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann: I get asked this same question periodically...usually in a neighborhood where sales are lagging.  You are right...can't and won't!

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (ColdwellBanker SSK Realtors ~ 478.960.8055) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann, Congratulations on this featued post.  You are so very correct in taking a stand, I even try to watch conversations about real estate with the "Big Guy" when we are out in public, because one never knows who may be listening!

Posted by Christine OShea (Christine E O'Shea Real Estate Broker) over 6 years ago

Unfortunately, most civilians don't realize where our limitations are. Keeping it ture to our ethics is key.

Posted by Nan Jester, Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery (Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL ) over 6 years ago

I have found most people are just being polite and starting conversation...much the same as if you would ask them about their business.  I wholeheartedly agree though about trust and confidentiality for our clients. Great points.

Posted by Foster Smith Summerville, Summerville & Charleston Homes for Sale SC Realtor (Carolina One Real Estate) over 6 years ago

This is a great post and so true.  Neighbors are the funniest people.  I say, just go over and knock on the door and ask them!

Posted by Faith LaRosse, Serving Berks, Chester & Montgomery Counties (Springer Realty Group) over 6 years ago

I get this question too many times. Just rcently someone wanted me to check on a homeowners situation, because they had heard 3rd and 4rth hand  that they weren't paying their mortgage and property was being foreclosed on. Most of the time, the people asking the questions have no interest in buying the property, they are just curious. I usually just tell them that the property isn't listed, and I don't know the owners or anything about them or their situation.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 6 years ago

Hi Wayne and Jean.  Thanks.  Yes, most times our friends are our clients and our clients are our friends.  Can get interesting.     :) 


Hi Doug.   I know!!!


Thanks Ginny.   I appreciate that coming from you!


Hi Anita.   And a good friend is upset that I won't secret with her.   


Hi Christine.   SMART cookie!!   Thanks.


Hi Nan.   Keeps us out of court too!


Thank you all for reading.  I appreciate your comments!!



Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

I love it when people ask what happened with the previous buyers on such and such house when they can see the status go back to Active. I always run through my usual scenarios and then say, "we can assume a lot of things, but we're never really going to know what happened, the agent can't say..."

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 6 years ago

Great post, Carol Ann... and the weight thing.... you are one brave lady! LOL LOL

Posted by Peggy Hughes/pha logistix, inc., SF NYC LA (pha logistix inc) over 6 years ago

I've had this happen several times before. I just tell The answer wont come from me. I don't need my butt chewed out by my client AND the broker.

Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic ( over 6 years ago


I agree with your comments about the fiduciary relationship and your blog has an excellent discussion about this topic. Congrats on getting featured. I never discuss anything specific or mention names.

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 6 years ago
Carol Ann...people ask me these things all the time too!
Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - over 6 years ago

Carol Ann: The house sitters of a listing always get "nosy" right after a showing. Several times I've wanted to be short with them like, "call the owners and find out, they are my client." But I'm nice, say something like "it's too early to tell" and leave. We do have to watch everything we say because our quotes will get back to our clients.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 6 years ago

Great post Carol Ann.  A client's privacy is so very important.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann~ ~ I think you're so right; we have a fiduciary responsibility to uphold! I think it's important to stay far away from others and the temptations!  Great post!

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) over 6 years ago

Hello Carol Ann. My own home is on the market now and all the neighbors want to chat. Me....not so much. Great blog.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann, some questions should never be asked:

What's going on with that listing?

How much do you weigh now?

How old are you?

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 6 years ago

You might be one of the rare confidential agents.  Kristine

Posted by Kim & Kristine Halverson, Realtors (, Santa Monica Real Estate :) ) over 6 years ago

I love meeting neighbors when we purchase a home to fix and flip. They tell us the history of the people. Enough said

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 6 years ago

I only release information that is easily accessible to the public, such as, the most recent sales price. If they ask why their neighbor has their home listed as a short sale, I don't usually know anyway. I just tell them I'm not privvy to that information.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 6 years ago

Hi Foster.    I agree that the how's real estate question is usually that.   Thanks.


Hi Faith.    Haha.   I am sure some will!   


Hi Jeff.   I think we all need to have some stock answers in those situations.  


Hi Donna.   I know, and Foster is probably right that some of that is just making conversation, but it does put us on the spot.


Hi Peggy.  You are killing me!  :)



Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

Hi Robert.  Exaxtly!   Get our butts chewed by enough people with out two more!


Hi Bob.   Good point  on the names!   Thanks.


Hi Christine.   Being a lawyer, I bet you get asked all kinds of stuff!


Hi Hella.   Love it!  House sitters!  


Hi Charlie.   There is so little that is actually private today, that I feel it's important to protect what is.

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

Hi Jon.  You are right, it is so tempting to just give in to someone that you care about because you don't want to hurt their feelings. 


Hi Sheila.  Poor you!!  Good luck with that sale!


Hi Ed.   You are on SMART man!!!


Hi Erica.   They really don't.


Hi Kristine.    I know there are a lot of us.   Thanks.


Hi Tammie.     A very solid plan. 


Thanks all for reading and weighing in.   Appreciate your comments.   






Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

Thanks for the chuckle this morning.  :)                                                                                                                           

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 6 years ago

So how much do you weigh?  You make the point very well. We just can't talk about it - opb that is, other people's business!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 6 years ago
I had an annoyed person ask why I didn't tell that her niece bought a house with me. Not my place to share this information. Margaret
Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 6 years ago

It'a really surprising to me that many people, including some agents don't "get this...that the fiduciary responsibility is far reaching and can be very treacherous to those who don't understand it.

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Carol, I see this all of the time especially when a property goes under contract. It seems everyone wants to know the offered price.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago
Great piece Al and Carolann! I think many will benefit from this-
Posted by Michael Dunsky, NMLS ID 21372 (Guaranteed Rate ) over 6 years ago

I'll never forget the time one of my friends wrote me an irritated email, asking why he wasn't being kept in the loop on his daughter's purchase.  He had nothing to do with the loan, the daughter hadn't brought him to any showings, I just said, "Sorry, but you're not my client."

Posted by Joetta Fort, Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder (The DiGiorgio Group) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann, congrats on feature.

We have to stick by rules. And the secret is revealed anyways once home is sold!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 6 years ago

Great reminder.  I recently got a call from another agent asking about a house I had previously lislted.  Apparently, not all Realtors get it either.

Posted by Debra Hight, Debra Hight (Coldwell Banker United, Realtors) over 6 years ago

Absolutely a great explanation of a touchy situation with friends. ( And, family members at times!)  Glad to see another well-deserved star for you too Carol Ann. Loose lips sink ships. ;)

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) over 6 years ago

Great post! Maintaining confidentiality is so important, I expect questions like that from non Realtors because they don't understand what our role is to the transaction. It's when agents ask those questions that they know they shouldn't that gets me.

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale (Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group ) over 6 years ago

You're never getting my weight out of me!  Good post.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 6 years ago

Our clients trust us to keep their information confidential and that is what we do, regardless of who is interested in the information. Like you, Lyn and others, you will never find out my weight either!

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 6 years ago

I have seen many agents get into deep do-do by opening their mouths when they should have stayed shut. And - they deserved it.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 6 years ago
If it's not my listing, I say that my crystal ball isn't working very well. Said with a smile doesn't offend your friends. Then I can go on to explain that no listing agent will disclose confidential "behind the curtain" info to ANYONE without violating their duty to their clients. So I can't talk about my inside knowledge and can't ask other agents to talk about theirs.
Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) over 6 years ago

Most people do not understand our concept of fiduciary responsibility to our clients.  They just think we can dish at anytime and anywhere.

Posted by Jennifer Chiongbian, Real Estate Broker - NYC (Specializing in all types of Manhattan apts & townhouses) over 6 years ago

Good post.  You need to be careful about what you say.  Thanks for the info.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Carol Ann,

Boy that’s a good topic. You are spot on. I always get that question. I have developed a short and sweet answer without going into the agency disclosure rant. I just say. “Agents are not allowed to disclose the details of the pending deal to anyone, but if you want to know what price it closed for I can let you know that after it closes.”


Posted by Dana Basiliere, Making deals "Happen" (Rossi & Riina Real Estate) over 6 years ago


Lots of really good comments and a really great blog. Take care and have a great weekend..

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 6 years ago

Thanks everyone for taking the time to weigh in.  I appreciate your comments and hope we all have a great selling week!

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

Hi Al and Cal, excellent point to remember the confidentiality long after the close.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 6 years ago

You had me in complete agreement until this:  "I would sooner tell you what I weigh!" That is another piece of confidential information that will only cross my lips in the doctor's office, and even then reluctantly.

Great post on an often misunderstood (by the public) subject!

Posted by Julie Bentley, Saint Johns, FL REALTOR (Watson Realty Corp, Jacksonville, FL ) over 6 years ago

Confidientially is No! fiduciary responsibility.


Never giving up is a life sentence  



Never giving up is a life sentence for which there is no escape.

for which there is no escape.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 6 years ago

Oh, come on, I'm glad they remember that I'm in real estate and say fine thanks for asking how are things going in your life right now. Oh you want to know what, wow wish I could answer that right now but I'm not allowed to but I promise as soon as I can I'll give you an answer. Is there a specific reason you would like to know, are you thinking of... No need to give a lecture on agency or anything else. 

Posted by Brian Park (Park Realty Investments) over 6 years ago

Terrific post Cal, making us chuckle over some very serious stuff.  Congrats on the feature.

Posted by Al Raymondi, Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales (Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida) over 6 years ago

Good Post,
I have agents that ask me the same questions.  I tell them I will let them know the minute the sale becomes PUBLIC record. 

Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) over 6 years ago