As the real estate market continues to show its strengths, many frustrated buyers are turning to love letters to convince sellers to accept their offer over other competing offers. While trying to get into a seller’s heart may seem like a harmless move, both the buyer’s and seller’s agents are at risk of potential discrimination lawsuits under the Federal Fair Housing Act. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status and disability. If it turns out that the information disclosed in the “love letter” caused the seller to reject or choose one buyer over another, a disaster could befall for everyone involved in the transaction.
Typical buyer’s bids usually include the closing date, the amount of the down payment, and the price offered for the home. Attach a separate document from the prospect that includes romantic expressions such as “the house is within walking distance of our church” or “my wife will be able to use her wheelchair without having to worry about going downstairs unaided ; as an Atlantean countryman, you know that we will take good care of the home for years to come, “and” this was the first area we visited where our multicultural family felt welcome, “may encourage the seller to use protected characteristics as a reason for rejection or accepting an offer that violates the Fair Housing Act. Agents of both buyers and sellers should avoid these situations for themselves and their customers.
Buyer’s agents should state in advance that you will not include a “love letter” in any offer you send. If necessary, write to clients indicating your position. If the client insists, familiarize them in writing with the Fair Housing Market Act and its purpose. Don’t read, compose, edit, or help send any “love letters” to your customer salesperson.
For seller agents, specify in the MLS property description that private messages from potential buyers will not be accepted or read. If a letter is received, immediately write to the buyer’s agent informing him that the message has not been read and that it is being returned. Remind your customers that their acceptance or rejection of an offer should not be based on any information they may have learned about customers as individuals. If there are multiple bids, consider creating a “Bid Received Chart” for your customers. The chart should only show the closing date, the amount of the down payment, and the price offered to each potential buyer.
While no one likes to lose their potential dream home, it’s better to be loved and lost than to go to court for federal housing discrimination.