Give Buyer Clients Solid Reasons to Skip Love Letters
September 8, 2021, | national association of realtors
The National Association of REALTORS® is continuing to warn its members about the use of buyer love letters to help their clients’ offers stand out from the competition. The letters buyers write to emphasize their desire for a home, in which they often share personal details, are raising fair housing red flags. They can also create potential legal risks for the real estate broker. That’s why states such as Oregon have banned such buyer letters in transactions. In July, Oregon became the first state to enact a law specifying that seller’s agents must reject buyers’ letters to sellers that contain information outside of the traditional offer.
“The use of a love letter often presents fair housing issues because they often contain personal information about the buyer, such as their race and culture or traditions as a way of appealing to the seller’s emotions,” Charlie Lee, NAR’s senior counsel and director of legal affairs, said during a “Window to the Law” video. “Some buyers even go as far as sending sophisticated packages that include photographs and videos.”
In the latest Window to the Law video, produced by NAR’s legal team, Lee shares various scenarios that could be especially problematic if a buyer shared such information in a letter, such as even including a photo of the family around a Christmas tree.
Lee encouraged real estate professionals to speak to their clients about the risks of buyer love letters and the potential fair housing issues they can raise. Real estate professionals should avoid helping their buyers draft them.
As for seller clients, Lee said they should be instructed to view an offer objectively on pricing and timing. If they insist on receiving buyer love letters, Lee advises real estate pros to urge them to consult legal counsel and to document the seller’s decision-making process in selecting an offer.