“Potential Fair Housing Liability and the Buyer Love Letter”
By: Shahrzad Emami, Esq.
Chief Legal Counsel
MIAMI Association of REALTORS®
In extremely hot markets the topic of Buyer Love Letters always comes up. Not a new tactic by any means, and yet most real estate professionals still do not understand the potential for housing discrimination imbedded in these letters.
So what is a Buyer Love Letter you ask? They are letters, sometimes accompanied by photos, written by prospective buyers or the agent of the buyer, which highlights the oftentimes very personal reasons why a seller should pick one buyer over another. These reasons sometimes include a buyer’s familial status, religion, place of birth, age…..sensing a pattern here? That’s right, these Buyer Love Letters often refer to buyer traits which are also protected classes under federal, state, and local fair housing laws and thus could potentially open the door to a discrimination claim brought against sellers and their agents/brokers.
Remember that the federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for home sellers, real estate agents, and other housing related service providers to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
As tempting as the Buyer Love Letter can be, the best practice is to avoid delivering and accepting these letters altogether. Instead remind your Seller to focus on the following according to the National Association of Realtors: the merits of the offer (price, term, etc.), and the likeliness of the sale to close.