SIGMT 2021 Vol 14 Iss 3

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96 | SIGNATURE MONTANA SIGNATUREMT'S REALTOR TIPS Did you hear the one about a dog named Buddy, who wrote a love leer? Not to his owner but to someone selling a home. Well, actually, the dog's owner wrote the leer in Buddy's voice, describing how wag-worthy the house was and how much he craved a game of fetch in the backyard. Doggie ghostwriting is just one example of how home buyers are using creativity to get their offers accepted. It sounds harmless enough. But buyer leers to home sellers can unintentionally create Fair Housing Act discrimination and risks for buyers, sellers, and agents. How Love Leers to Home Sellers Work "A love leer is any communication from the buyer to the seller where the buyer is trying to set themselves apart," says Deanne Rymarowicz, associate counsel at the National Association of REALTORS. It could be an email, a Facebook post, or a photo. Some buyers send elaborate packages with videos and leers. e communication has the intent of pick me, and here's why. "Buyers who write leers send them along with their offer to listing agents," says Paul Knighton, CEO, and co-founder of MORE Realty in Tigard, Ore. "ey ask to please pass this along to the sellers. ey're trying to do what they can to get their offer accepted, especially in a competitive market," Knighton adds. Leers Can Risk Violating Fair Housing Act While these love leers may seem harmless enough, they can create a problem if buyers accidentally reveal information in one or more of the seven areas protected by the Fair Housing Act, Rymarowicz explains. ese areas are race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Rymarowicz adds, "Buyers say things like, 'is is down the street from our temple,' or 'e hallways are wide enough to accommodate my wheelchair.' Anything that provides personal information related to one of the prohibited bases for discrimination could result in a violation if a seller makes a decision based on that information," says Rymarowicz. Do Love Leers to Home Sellers Work? In addition to creating potential risk, love leers to sellers aren't all that effective, Knighton says. A case in point: Several years ago, one of his clients got 14 offers overnight, ranging from $219,000 to $250,000. "A person who offered $225,000 wanted to send a love leer. I said to him, 'You're writing an offer that's $25,000 under the highest offer. A leer's not going to help.' He wrote it anyway, but the seller didn't even read it and took the higher offer. e offer needs to stand on its own." Beyond ignoring the leers, some sellers may be completely turned off, Rymarowicz says. "ey may think this is a financial transaction.'" Even the circumstances can suggest Fair House Act discrimination, she explains. Say that an offer with a love leer got the house, but it was less aractive than an offer without a leer. If the losing buyer doesn't share characteristics of the seller and the winning buyer does, you could potentially have a situation. If sellers accept love leers, it's more important that they document the basis of their decision when selecting a winning offer. Five Tips to Avoid Violating the Fair Housing Act 1. Keep the contract in mind: Knighton says real estate agents at his firm talk to buyers and sellers about contract boundaries. "We say, please don't communicate with the other party because we are in contract negotiations and need to manage time frames." 2. Focus on objective information: Find ways to differentiate yourself on objective terms. And talk to the agent about how to improve the substance of your offer, Rymarowicz advises. "Can you make a larger earnest money deposit? Can you give them a longer closing date?" 3. Proceed with caution: e NAR discourages buyer leers to home sellers and advises caution, according to Rymarowicz. 4. Talk to your agent: Don't be surprised if your real estate agent brings up the subject. "If you're the seller, the listing agent may talk to you about the potential for Fair Housing violations. ey may ask if you want to accept the risks," Rymarowicz says. If the agent doesn't raise the subject of buyer leers, the buyer or seller can do so. 5. Know your state law: Oregon passed a law governing how leers to home sellers are used. "Effective January 2022, a seller's agent must reject any communication from a buyer other than customary documents," Knighton says. Knighton says that even if a buyer's leer to a seller focuses on the property and not the buyer, there's lile to be gained. "ere's risk, but the reward isn't there. Instead, focus on writing a firm offer." ink Twice Before You Write or Receive a Home Love Letter What You Need to Know About Buyer Love Letter to Home Sellers Article From Lynn Einger S MT ARTICLE PROVIDED BY DAVID LERAY, REALTOR ® EXP REALTY, LLC

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