CLEVELAND – The era of homebuyers writing a letter to sellers to influence their decision seems to be over.
Seth Task, president of Ohio Realtors, explained how, as buyers want to compliment a seller on their fenced yard for the kids to grow up or a spacious living room for Christmas morning, these comments could cause problems.
Task told News 5 that he no longer accepts “love letters” from buyers and encourages other real estate agents to do the same, to avoid possible discrimination.
“If a decision is made on the basis of the letter versus other letters, it is clearly a fair housing issue,” Task explained.
News 5 spoke to several Northeast Ohio realtors, who all explained that they see around 25% of sellers’ agents no longer accepting love letters, up from almost none a year ago. about a year.
“We have been recommending letters for a very long time,” Task said. “You are trying to shoot the heart of the salesperson. You are trying to establish a relationship to some extent. This heartfelt letter might put you over the top. Maybe a salesperson is taking $ 2,000 less because they like your letter.
Oregon recently passed a new law in effect in 2022 that prohibits buyers from sending letters to sellers in order to influence their decision.
It becomes the latest change in an ever-changing real estate landscape, where buyers are offering to forgo inspections, cover valuation gaps, and blind bid.
Earlier this month, News 5 highlighted how sellers would no longer be allowed to list homes as “upcoming”, effective August 1.
Fair housing regulations at federal, state and local levels currently prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, family status, ancestry, location. national origin, disability, military status, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to write a love letter without mentioning at least one of these protected classes,” Task added.
Tanesha Hunter is director of education and outreach for the Fair Housing Center for Rights & Research, and points out penalties such as fines of tens of thousands of dollars for sellers who discriminate. Agents could also lose their licenses due to violations of housing law, she said.
“We believe that over 30,000 incidents of housing discrimination occur in our region [every year] but are not reported, ”she explained. “Instead of writing those love letters and talking about personal items, talk about your enthusiasm for the features of the property. You like the fireplace, you like the courtyard, you like the kitchen.
News 5 has contacted the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Department of Real Estate and Licensing about it. A spokesperson said that while they have not addressed any specific cases of these type of letters considered discriminatory, it is something on their radar.
Currently, there is no bill in the Ohio legislature to ban “love letters” to home buyers.