Member Benefits: Love Letters Are for Romance, Not Real Estate


 May 11, 2021
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The housing market has seen tremendous activity over the last year despite the pandemic. Especially in hot markets with low inventory, buyers are competing with love letters. Unfortunately, this practice can increase the risk of an errors & omissions (E&O) claim for real estate professionals.

To entice and play on the emotions of a seller, buyers will write a love letter to describe why their offer should be chosen. Seemingly harmless, these letters expose real estate professionals and their clients to a higher risk of fair housing violations.

Consider if a potential buyer love letter included details of children running down the stairs on Christmas morning to open presents in their new home. This statement not only reveals the potential buyer’s familial status, but it also reveals the family’s religion, both of which are protected characteristics under the law. Using this information, knowingly or unconsciously, as a basis to accept or reject an offer violates the Fair Housing Act.

The National Association of REALTORS¬ģ (NAR) recommends these best practices related to buyer love letters*:

  • Educate your clients about fair housing laws and the pitfalls of buyer love letters.
  • Remind your clients their decision to accept or reject an offer should be based on objective criteria only.
  • If your client insists on writing a buyer love letter, do not help your client draft or deliver it.
  • Avoid reading any love letter drafted or received by your client.
  • Document all offers received and the seller‚Äôs objective reason for accepting or rejecting an offer.

In general, real estate professionals should be careful to recommend buyer love letters and should remind sellers to evaluate offers on their own merits.

Lisa Scoble is Vice President of Programs managing the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Program at Pearl Insurance. She can be reached at 309-679-0508 or via email at lisa.scoble@pearlinsurance.com.

DISCLAIMER: This article was produced in conjunction with AXA XL and is not to be taken as legal advice.

* Editor‚Äôs note: Please note that not all information above is consistent with Wisconsin license law. Please consult the WRA ‚ÄúDear Seller‚ÄĚ resource webpage at www.wra.org/DearSeller for additional details as well as further resources about this topic.

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