Good Question: Why do Realtors warn home buyers against writing a letter to sellers?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Why do real estate agents warn home buyers against writing a letter to make a good impression on home sellers?

It can be tempting to try to win sellers over, especially in today’s highly-competitive market, but writing a “love letter” is strongly discouraged. Here’s why.

Margaret writes: “Why is it illegal/inappropriate to write a letter to the seller of a house?”

Michael O’Connor, the president of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors says writing a letter is not illegal, but it is frowned upon.

“The issue is, really, it’s a fair housing issue,” O’Connor said. “…We highly discourage buyers and agents from writing these letters. because it’s very easy to cross the line and create a violation of our fair housing laws and rules.”

The goal is to prevent seller bias surrounding protected classes in New York State, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, and disability.

“If a potential buyer were to write one of these letters, the odds are that they’re going to cross the line and code something about one of these protected classes or even related to their family,” Connor said.

For example, if a buyer writes a letter and mentions something about celebrating the holidays in the home, the seller might glean information about their religion that could impact their decision. But “love letters” have not always been discouraged.

“At one time, prior to 2017, the majority of agents would ask or include a letter with their purchase offer,” O’Connor said. “Now, also, back then, the market was not as competitive as it is right now.”

Violations of fair housing laws come with a steep penalty, sometimes over $10,000. The Greater Rochester Association of Realtors has been advised by the New York State Association of Realtors not to accept or send any love letters. So chances are good that if you write one, it will not be read.

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