In a competitive seller’s market, potential buyers can be tempted to use anything to make their offer stand out. One way buyers attempt to set themselves apart is through what the real estate industry calls, love letters.
What are buyer love letters?
Buyer love letters are letters from potential buyers to the seller that attempt to paint a picture of what makes them the perfect buyer. Its intention is to pull at a seller’s heartstrings and hopefully entice them to accept the seller’s offer.
An example is explaining how the buyer’s children would run down the stairs on Christmas morning and open gifts by the fire. Or perhaps newlyweds would explain how they will begin their new married life in the very special home.
What’s wrong with these scenarios?
Before you go too far down the primrose path of sending and receiving love letters and selecting offers based on these letters, let’s consider the liability involved in accepting an offer based on a love letter.
Each of the scenarios reveals something about each of the sellers- their religion and their familial status. How can this be an issue?
The Fair Housing Act makes illegal any discrimination in the sale, lease, or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
A seller could end up being held responsible for discrimination in the sale if an offer is chosen based on a heartwarming love letter. A disappointed person whose offer was rejected can easily claim discrimination.
How can you avoid the liability that comes with buyer love letters?
If you’re a seller, do not accept or review buyer love letters. This will allow you to be objective when you’re sifting through offers.
If you’re a real estate agent, during the listing appointment, have a conversation with your seller and come to an agreement that you will not deliver buyer love letters. Let them know that you are protecting them from potential liability in doing so. Include in the MLS agent remarks:
- Love letters will not be transmitted as part of the offer.
As a buyer’s agent, do not encourage your client to send love letters. The sellers’ focus should be the objective basis for selecting the best offer and should not be clouded by a love letter.
Have more questions?
If you have more questions regarding buyer love letters, reach out to me, Victoria Edwards at Mette, Evans & Woodside Attorneys at Law at (717) 231-5270.