Writing a love letter to a home seller has proven effective, but it could also be against the law


In a time of heightened awareness of right and wrong, writing a love letter to a home seller has proven effective, but it could also be against the law: fair housing issues and discrimination laws.

Molly Livingston from California received three offers for her home outside Reno, including one that came with a love letter, a way to show the intimacy between seller and buyer.

“It wasn’t the highest bid, but we liked this couple,” Livingston noted. “He was a military man. She was a nurse. They were coming in on a loan (from the Veterans Administration). We had bought this house as a young couple and had done a ton of work to make it a nice little house. We recognized ourselves a lot in them.”

San Francisco real estate developer and entrepreneur Jesse Herzog used similar tactics to secure a new place: They wanted to show they loved raising a family in the neighborhood, as well as showcasing the architecture and light of the neighborhood. ‘place.

“We kept it pretty innocuous,” Herzog noted. “You don’t want to mention the dog in case the seller is a cat.”

However, he wanted to create a human connection.

“You live in your house – it’s such a personal experience,” he said. “It’s only natural that you try to personalize what is otherwise a business transaction.”


The new way to write a love letter comes as the nation reckon with generations of systemic racism, including in real estate. Mortgage lenders and brokers have long discriminated by drawing lines on maps – known as redlining – and refusing to provide services for homes outside white areas, preventing residents of color from build wealth through home ownership. Although the practice was banned decades ago, it has had serious consequences by perpetuating poverty and restricting access to good schools, health care and other amenities.

Litigation in the 1990s and 2000s helped erase similar minimum value policies in the insurance industry, where companies offered low-quality homeowner policies or no policies based on age and market value. ‘a house.

In October, the California Association of Realtors created new guidelines on love letters to make sure they don’t appear to be discriminatory or violate fair housing laws.

The guidance discourages any letter that “would inadvertently reveal, or be perceived to reveal, information about protected status” or increase the risk of “actual or unconscious bias”.


Daniel Hershkowitz, a San Francisco real estate broker and attorney, said the new guidelines are enough to end the practice of love letters: he tries these days to stop clients from writing or reading them.

“These letters can be just as ineffective as they are effective, so why not eliminate the possibility anyway in the spirit of fair housing laws?”


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