Valentine’s Day is still five months away, but “love letters” are a hot-and-heavy topic.

Today’s Wall Street Journal (9/13/21) reports, “Prospective buyers for years have penned these personalized notes—affectionately known as ‘love letters’—to introduce themselves to a home seller and make an emotional appeal.

“The letters can provide the buyer a competitive edge, and rarely has the U.S. housing market been more competitive than it is today. But in recent months, love letters have come under greater scrutiny for possibly enabling discrimination. Some worry that a seller could violate the federal Fair Housing Act by choosing a buyer based on a protected class, such as race, religion or nationality. The law includes seven protected classes, and some states and localities have additional protected categories.”

The WSJ article refers to and quotes NAR and the guidance the association issued to members on “love letters” last fall. That guidance, which is posted HERE, includes:

Before the next time you are faced with a buyer love letter, consider these best practices to protect yourselves and your clients from fair housing liability:

  • Educate your clients about the fair housing laws and the pitfalls of buyer love letters.
  • Inform your clients that you will not deliver buyer love letters, and advise others that no buyer love letters will be accepted as part of the MLS listing.
  • Remind your clients that their decision to accept or reject an offer should be based on objective criteria only.
  • If your client insists on drafting 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’s objective reason for accepting an offer.