Jul 16, 2021
You read that correctly. The state of Oregon has made what are commonly called "Love Letters" illegal - well, mostly anyway. These are letters that agents create with their buyers to reach out to sellers on a personal level. The goal is to connect with sellers, outside the sterile language used in contracts, disclosures and addendums. It is an opportunity for buyers and their agents to try and leverage off of points of commonality that a buyer shares with a seller. It often includes discussions of the buyers lifestyle, employment, interests and even a photo of the buyers. Until now, the composition of these "Love Letters" in Oregon has been completely up to the buyer and agent to decide.
While these letters are not banned outright, this new law in Oregon prohibits including any information that might reveal characteristics of the buyer that are covered by the Fair Housing Act. Despite what many believe, sellers are required to abide by the Fair Housing Act guidelines when selecting an offer on their home. So if you are the kind of person who really hates anyone of Scottish heritage, it is illegal for you to reject an offer on your home based on that fact.
Check out todays show for a more complete discussion of this topic. Generally, I would rather leave it up to buyers and their agents to decide what goes into the letter that accompanies an offer. I have used these kinds of letters in my offers for decades and I have found them to be very useful tools. While I understand the idea of fairness in these offer scenarios - it is important to understand that these letters are designed to emphasize areas that work to the buyers advantage. If an agent and buyer simply put everything they can think of into one of these letters, they are not doing it right. Like most things, you should do your homework to identify areas of commonality with the seller that you can use in these letters. Anything that might be prejudicial is avoided if you are crafting such a letter rather than blindly tossing it into the mix. In my case, when in doubt, I don't include information regarding my buyers that might end up working against them. Which is, of course, the point of the letter in the first place!
Oregon is the first state to pass such a law, but not likely to be the last. We should expect that other states will follow along and implement similar limitations.
So how should we proceed in the real estate world relating to these letters? Does it make sense? Do we want the government limiting what a buyer and their agent might present in a letter of this kind? Or, are we all better served by leaving it up to those parties?
We will discuss all that and more in todays show!