In a seller's market, some homebuyers are attempting to get a leg above the competition by including a “buyer love letter” with their offer. While some agents refuse to accept or submit these, there are plenty that still allows them.
Here are three reasons, in our opinion, as to why these letters should go straight to the trash.
1. They are essentially a fabricated sales pitches and, at times, can be entirely made up
These letters are created to tug at your heartstrings. They are usually a fluffed up story about the buyer’s life and future plans for the home. If your listing agent gave any indication of your hopes for the new sellers, there is a good chance that commentary will get passed along to the buyer agents and incorporated in the letters. Even simple information like the fact that you, the seller, have a dog. A buyer could then write about their dog and include a picture of their dog (or someone else’s if they do not have one).
Here is a prime example that we read a few months ago on a real estate forum
The buyer caught wind that the home seller was very sad to leave their family home and how they were hoping to a new growing family would create new memories in it. This buyer had zero intention of having kids (which is totally fine). Yet, in their letter, they wrote about how they would love to start a family in this home and can’t wait to have kids. The seller has no idea that they lied and ended picking their offer.
We are not saying that all letters are made up, as some people do have fascinating stories. The problem is that you have no idea who is telling the truth, who is exaggerating, and who is flat out lying.
2. They are unfair and can lead to bias
In a perfect world, everyone would be accepted for who they are regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Unfortunately, we as a country have yet to obtain that perfect world.
To put it bluntly, these letters are a disadvantage to minorities or those who do not fit someone else idea of the perfect homebuyer. Even when some sellers think they aren't being bias, they might end up gravitating towards a buyer that looks and acts like them.
Here are two great examples of why these leave others at a disadvantage
A homebuyer was worried about their name being listed on the offer because it didn’t sound “American” enough. This person was born and raised here (not that it should matter) but has experienced enough in his life to know that some people might disregard his offer simply because of his name.
We have also read stories of gay couples and biracial couples who were afraid to submit a picture of their adorable family because it might hurt them more than help, depending on who is reviewing the offers.
But if that is not a strong enough reason why we have one more for you.
3. The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act was written to protect against bias for the things listed above. Accepting and reading buyer love letters could leave you and your agent open to potential liability due.
To sum it up, make it clear that you will not accept letters from the beginning. You should select an offer based on what works best for you, not by what the buyer looks like, who they love, or where they live.