Buyer love letters, it is time to dump them!
The housing market is hot, and we do not anticipate it slowing down anytime soon. Buyers are using every angle possible to get their offer accepted; highest and best offers, no contingencies, cash offers, and the latest buyer love letters.
What is a buyer love letter? A buyer love letter is a letter that the potential buyer writes to the seller in hopes to entice the seller to accept their offer. Maybe the letter plays on emotion. Maybe the letter includes personal characteristics. The letter, on the surface, has the best intentions at heart. However, you are opening yourself up to liability, potential fair housing violations, and discrimination.
What is the Fair Housing Act? The Fair Housing Act states that it is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities.
In short, the federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for home sellers, real estate agents, REALTORS, and other housing-related service providers to discriminate against protected classes.
The federal protected classes are race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. States and local governments can also have fair housing regulations that include additional protected classes such as gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or military status.
With buyer love letters there is too much room for error. The letters basically tell the seller “pick me because we share the same race” or “pick me because of my religion” “pick me because … insert prohibited protected class reason here”
Some examples: “We can picture our kids running in the beautiful backyard!” – Familial Status
“As a newlywed couple we can’t wait to spend Christmas morning drinking coffee by the fireplace!” –Religion
These letters may seem harmless, but what happens when the potential buyers offer does not get accepted? Are their feelings hurt? Are they going to say that their offer was not accepted because of the letter? The risk is not worth it.
What can you do instead of a buyer lover letter? Focus on a strong offer.
Best Practices from National Association of Realtors®
- Educate your customers about the fair housing laws and the pitfalls of buyer love letters.
- Inform your customers that you will not deliver buyer love letters and advise other that no buyer love letters will be accepted as part of the MLS listing.
- Remind your customers that their decision to accept or reject an offer should be based on objective criteria only.
- If your customer insists on drafting a buyer lover letter, do not help draft or deliver it.
- Avoid reading any love letter drafted or received by your client.
- Document all offers received and the seller’s objective reason for accepting an offer.