REALTORS® should avoid handling or encouraging buyer love letters, buyer love letter videos which are slang terms for communications in letter form or email or photos or videos from the buyer to seller in order to tug on the seller’s heartstrings to win a multiple offer when they are not the highest and best terms offeror.
Buyer’s can use the contract itself to convey the most effective information to win a multiple offer with high price, cash/financing strength, quick close, high earnest money, high due diligence termination fee with short due diligence period, already sold their other home, lender love letters about the great credit risk, etc.
Buyer agents should be communicating via phone conversations with the listing agent asap to help the offer process.
Fair housing protected class information that should not be revealed to sellers:
race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity.
Fair housing problematic love letters/videos/photos are not part of the offer, so listing agents do not have to present to sellers.
Sellers should not Facebook stalk buyers.
Sellers who use love letter information or social media stalking information could get their listing agent and listing brokerage and listing BIC implicated in fair housing ethics complaints, license law complaints, lawsuits, testers, undercover reporters, SC Human Affairs Commission actions, HUD actions, and other fair housing problems.
In multiple offers, only one buyer prevails. Non-prevailing buyers may assert there was illegal and unethical fair housing discrimination. Since every non-prevailing buyer fits into one or more protected classes, any complaint could proceed.
Defenses – keep the seller without knowledge of protected class information (e.g., no love letters, no photos/videos of buyers, no social media stalking, concealing actual names on offers, no emotional information).
While this practice is common and has been used in the past, things change. This practice is now a known risk in real estate. So, avoid on the buyer side and the seller side.
Posted by: Byron King on 8/12/21 (This information is only accurate as of 8/12/21. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 8/12/21 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at screaltors.org or email byron at screaltors.org)