Selling Land

Don’t Tell Everything You Know

Don’t Tell Everything You Know

At lunch earlier this week, I was reminded of something my grandmother told me many times before she passed away, “Don’t tell everything you know.”

Our two local game wardens came into the café for lunch and sat down across from me at the long table where locals sit around and talk about the recent happenings. One of the game wardens introduced the stranger he brought with him as his roommate from college that was in town for the day.

One of the conservation officers asked me if I had sold any property recently I replied, “Yes, I just put a tract up on Bulldog Bend Road under contract this morning.” The man’s roommate whom I had never met before, looked at me and asked, “It wasn’t Dave that made the offer was it?” I was floored that this person I had never met knew the name of one of my prospective buyers. The stranger said, “I am a forester and cruised that tract for him yesterday.” Again, I was floored. It seemed to be a huge cosmic coincidence.

My clients were in the middle of a two buyer situation, where we had an offer on the table and this forester’s boss was also an interested player. My simple statement about putting that property under contract was probably texted to this man’s boss before I could finish my cobbler.

In the real estate business, insider knowledge means a lot. It is often as good as currency, or can be extremely damaging if misused. I would never intentionally break my fiduciary duties to my clients by giving out confidential information. But sometimes sharing even the non-confidential can be potentially harmful to your business.

Seasoned land traders and brokers are often some of the best people at not answering questions or at seeming aloof. I was reminded the importance of keeping my cards close to the vest this week. My grandmother was one of the wisest people I’ve ever known, and I intend to honor her admonition of, “Don’t tell everything you know.”

This content may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in part or in whole, without written permission of LANDTHINK. Use of this content without permission is a violation of federal copyright law. The articles, posts, comments, opinions and information provided by LANDTHINK are for informational and research purposes only and DOES NOT substitute or coincide with the advice of an attorney, accountant, real estate broker or any other licensed real estate professional. LANDTHINK strongly advises visitors and readers to seek their own professional guidance and advice related to buying, investing in or selling real estate.

About the author

Jonathan Goode

Jonathan is passionate about helping people buy and sell land. He is an associate broker with Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. Jonathan is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC), working with Southeastern Land Group (AlaLandCo) since 2008, serving Alabama and Mississippi. He is a member of the Alabama and Mississippi chapters of the Realtor’s Land Institute (RLI), and is currently serving as Vice President of the Alabama Chapter. Jonathan specializes in marketing rural properties online, and is a contributor for, writing articles focused on helping people buying and selling rural land.


Click here to post a comment

  • Jonathan – I dont think you did anything wrong. It seems to me the forester’s buyers were a day late and a dollar short. But you are correct, In so many instances we have to keep our cards close to the vest.

  • As a sellers agent the comment made at the table is appropriate. Why? Because it’s factual and lets someone who may also be interested in placing an offer (perhaps better and higher) get in an offer or bid before the deal is closed. If the agent is representing the seller then the statement could be problematic for the above reason as well. What buyer wants to have to raise his offer to effect a sale if it isn’t necessary? The real fly in the ointment comes with the broker who is acting as a DUAL AGENT. This is really where the author’s grandmother’s advice becomes priceless and it’s definitely best not to disclose everything you know. It is vitally important to know what you should disclose however. A small mistake in a ‘little’ town can be very costly .

Pulse Question

If high inflation and interest rates persist throughout 2023, how will landowners react?


Subscribe to LANDTHINK

Get the latest land articles and news sent to your inbox. Get land smart!