Love Letter in Real Estate Transaction

Dated: May 25 2022

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Love Letter in Real Estate Transaction

Love letters are back, but should you use them when making an offer?

You may have heard that Oregon had recently banned the use of love Letter as part of an offer in the purchase of real estate, and you would be right

A new law, House Bill 2550, passed in effect June 2021, requiring seller’s agent to reject “love letters” from buyers. However, on March 3, 2022, the US District Court for the district of Oregon, put an injunction on the enforcement of this new law.  Earlier this month, a federal judge put a stop to the prohibition of love letters. The judge concluded that the law violates the first amendment.

The ban has been lifted. But should you use them?

In a hot market with low inventory, it is tempting for buyers to see love letters as a tactic to differentiate themselves from the competition.   Seemingly harmless, these letters can actually raise fair housing concerns, and could open real estate professionals and their clients to fair housing violations.

It is important to understand that intention of the law was to prevent discrimination in the home buying process. And love Letters present a real risk related to Fair Housing violations.  If a seller were to select or reject a buyer based on the buyer’s protected class information revealed in a love letter, that would be a violation of fair housing laws. The agent assisting a seller in making a decision based upon protected class status would also be committing a fair housing violation. 

So before engaging yourself blindly into this pitfall here are a some things to consider.

1-      Review the Fair Housing Act and become familiar with the protected classes in Oregon and remember that they do vary based on your local jurisdiction. Here is a helpful chart from the Fair Housing Council of Oregon listing federal, state and local protected classes.

 

2-    If you decide to write the letter, keep it short. Focus your words on the property and the plans, vision, or emotions you have for it. Avoid personal information.

 

3-    Understand that everyday words such as “grandchildren, native or Christmas” used in the context of a love letter can reveal your familial status, religion, or place of origin which are protected characteristics under fair housing laws, which could then be used, knowingly or through unconscious bias, as an unlawful basis for a seller’s decision to accept or reject an offer.

 

4-    Do not add pictures of yourself or your family as they also reveal protected characteristics.

 

5-    Understand that you agent cannot help you draft your letter. It is likely that they may even refuse to read it and that the seller may refuse it.

In conclusion, the best way to protect yourself from the potential liability related to love letters might be to simply not use them. There are numerous other alternative strategies that your agent can advise on that may entice a seller to choose your offer.

To discuss winning strategies for your next move, contact me! 

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Véronique Nelson

Welcome to Weichert! My wish is to bring you the “Joie de vivre” of owning the property that suits you and brings you the wellness of truly being home. Over 21 years ago I chose Hillsboro as my ....

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