If you have ever bought a home, perhaps you have written a letter expressing your love of the home to the seller.
They are known as real estate love letters and have been used by potential home buyers for decades as a way to get a leg up on the competition.
“It’s a competitive market, so the use of love letters have really increased a lot lately,” said real estate agent AK Riley. “Sometimes people will even include pictures.”
According to some, love letters pose potential violations of the Fair Housing Act, as they could promote discrimination based on the information disclosed in them. Last year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) denounced real estate love letters, and within the last two months, California’s Association of Realtors became the latest state group to denounce them as well.
“Almost from the outset, people expressed concern about them,” said Bryan Greene, vice president of Policy Advocacy at the National Association of Realtors. “There are risks involved, so at the end of the day, the actual facts are going to matter.”
The worry, says Greene, is that viable buyers are passed up because the seller wants the home to go to “like-minded” people, even if the intent is innocent and/or subconscious.
“What the National Association of Realtors doesn’t want to see is an offer being chosen, a buyer being chosen, because of their familial status, or their race, or their sexual orientation,” said Riley.
If a buyer suspects they were passed up because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, they could file a civil lawsuit claiming discrimination, so the NAR recommends potential homebuyers stay away from love letters altogether.
“Real estate is complicated. It’s hard right now, and it’s hard for everybody,” said Riley.