No more love letters from home buyers!

It seems a pretty standard practice that’s been done for years has to end.

I have always encouraged my homebuying clients to write a letter to the seller telling them how much they love the home and neighborhood. I am 100% certain these letters have influence seller decisions in the past. I know we didn’t always have the best offer.

But it seems that this practice has to stop. Following is a letter from our company attorney.

For many years it has been the practice of some selling agents to encourage their buyers to write a letter to the seller to give them an edge in a multiple offer situation. These letters, which typically tug on the heartstrings of the seller, are often successful. They are usually referred to in the profession as “buyer love letters.”

There has been an increasing recognition, however, that these letters trigger serious Fair Housing concerns. For but a few examples, it would not be uncommon for such a letter to contain language reflecting how much the buyers’ children will enjoy the backyard, how conveniently located the house is to a particular church, or to describe the buyers and their family. These easily trigger significant familial, religious, race and national origin Fair Housing concerns.

At first blush this might seem over the top because no one is really trying to violate Fair Housing laws when they do this.  But if you think about it, the very purpose of buyer love letters is to make the seller “like” the buyer, with the end result that such a buyer’s offer is chosen by the seller not because of price and terms, but because the buyer is “like them.”

For these reasons, NAR has taken the position that such letters should not be received by a listing agent and passed along to a seller, nor should a selling agent encourage or assist the buyer to write any such letters. I expect VR to take the same position soon, and I know VPR will do so also. Liz and I have discussed this, and from this point forward company policy is that such letters should not be received on our listings, and if somehow received they should not be passed along to sellers. You should make that known to your sellers. Company selling agents should not encourage or assist their buyers to write any such letters.