Love letters have been a part of real estate for longer than I have been in it, (starting my 20th year). What is a love letter when it comes to real estate? It is a letter that the hopeful buyer writes to the seller in hopes of getting the seller to accept their offer. When the market is a seller’s market, buyers may want their offer chosen over other, similar offers, and when it is a buyer’s market they may be hoping to get the seller to accept the less than asking price offer being submitted. It’s a way for buyers to show the sellers than they are more than just numbers on a contract, that they are real people wanting to purchase a home, and not just any home, THEIR home.
Sounds good right? Why wouldn’t you submit a love letter with your offer? Well, for lots of reasons. One you may somehow accidently turn off the seller by something you say. Maybe you mention how much your dog will love the yard and the seller absolutely doesn’t want a dog in there tearing up all of the plants they have lovingly planted over the years. There are lots of ways you could turn off a seller, so why take the chance?
Buyers take the chance because they want to tell their story, they want to humanize themselves and their offer. Buyers want to appeal to the sellers in order to tug on their heart strings so they sell their home to them. They want the seller to know that they will love the home as they can tell the seller has loved the home. Maybe they want to raise their children in the home, start a new marriage in the home, have a new beginning after a terrible divorce in the home. Every buyer has their story and it is natural to want to share that story with sellers.
Sellers often want to know who will be buying the home that they have lived in, cared for, and loved for so long. They may want a family that looks just like themselves to move into the home, or a single person just like they are, or someone starting a new life just like they did. There is a problem with this though! It is against fair housing laws for the seller to make decisions based on race, sexual orientation, age, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or any of the other protected classes. By sharing their story, a buyer often shares their age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, etc. If the seller uses a love letter to choose which buyer they want to sell their home to, that is a violation of the Fair Housing Laws.
So, it is best to just stay away from love letters all together, right? First of all it isn’t the buyer’s or the buyer’s agent’s responsibility to protect the seller from Fair housing laws. But, the best way to get around this would be to speak to things that don’t have anything to do with protected classes. For instance, you can mention your dog as dogs and dog owners are not protected. A buyer could also mention that they will love and care for the home, become an integrated member of the community, or plans to volunteer within the community. It is best to not put the seller or the seller’s agent in danger of violating Fair Housing laws.