Writing Love Letters to Sellers, Advantage or Discrimination?
Advantage or discrimination?
With the housing market being extremely competitive right now, desperate home buyers are turning to "love letters" to try and entice sellers. This practice seems to be working with some sellers admitting that they accepted an offer based on what a potential buyer wrote in a letter.
A "love letter" in the simplest terms is when potential home buyers write a letter with emotional appeals to try and relate and distinguish themselves with that seller in hopes of their offer being accepted.
One real-life example of this happened in a town near Dallas. A couple wrote handwritten letters to the sellers after touring what they called their "dream home." In the letter, they detailed how they would love to raise their kids in the home, how involved they were in the community and how they would take care of the historic house.
"I just wrote what was in my heart," the buyer said.
Seems innocent, right? writing a harmless letter to try and impress someone into picking you out of the crowd.
Opening the door to discrimination
Writing personalized love letters are the second-most helpful strategy. The first is offering all cash. Realtors are recognizing that this method could potentially open the door to discrimination. The practice of allowing sellers to choose buyers who are similar to them.
This past year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a statement about how this practice has the potential to violate certain federal laws, more specifically the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or financing of a home because of race, religion, sex, or familial status.
The association says that this has been an ongoing issue for quite some time and that the pandemic and booming housing market have shed more light on it. Desperate buyers are doing anything they can.
"People in the real estate industry have expressed concern that buyers' love letters might lead some sellers to pick and choose potential buyers for discriminatory reasons," one report said.
What sellers are doing
Some sellers choose to not read the letters at all. One Austin woman told herself this after putting her home on the market after accepting a job offer out of state. She had asked her realtor to not mention a word of the letters.
She said she was aware of the potential for discrimination to be brought up.
This past summer, Oregon became the first state to ban these letters. The law in this state directs real estate agents to reject any other form of communication other than the required documents in a transaction.
Long-time real estate agent, Mark Meek, who is now an Oregon state representative, studied discrimination in the industry shared how this practice is driving neighborhood segregation.
"When you look back at the redlining of the past, these love letters to the seller are unfortunately coded to perpetuate discrimination," Meek said.
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