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Are love letters being canceled?

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“I heard that even though there were better offers, they got the house because they wrote a nice letter to the sellers…”

Most home buyers have heard the legend that a friend of a friend had their offer accepted just because they wrote a letter to the home sellers.  It is tempting to think that writing what we call in the industry a “love letter” will pull at a seller’s heartstrings enough to win you a house.  The reality is that this is unlikely to happen.  While a love letter may pull at the heartstrings, offering more money is what usually tugs harder…on the purse strings, that is.

In addition to being unpersuasive, love letters could actually hurt you more than help you due to fair housing concerns.  The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.  Love letters usually contain a lot of personal information about prospective buyers.  

“Because of our background as _____, we picture fitting into your neighborhood perfectly.”  

If information that is protected under the Fair Housing Act appears to have caused a seller to reject or select one buyer over another, the seller or their agent could face a lawsuit for discrimination.  More and more sellers’ agents recognize this and are starting to prohibit love letters.  One state (Oregon) has even passed legislation that bans love letters.

It is natural to want to do something to make yourself stand out a competitive market, but remember: the terms of the offer are what should be under review, not the characteristics of the person who submitted it. 

Liesl circle
Liesl Finn

Liesl is a Broker Associate with the Coleman Group.