How “love letters” from potential buyers encourage discrimination

On Behalf of | May 18, 2023 | Residential Real Estate

Discrimination in residential real estate has been a problem for a long time, and it’s a topic that needs to be addressed more often. Recently, love letters from potential buyers have been scrutinized for their potential to encourage discrimination. 

Love letters are letters that potential buyers send to sellers when they are interested in purchasing a home. These letters are meant to provide information about the buyer, such as their occupation, family status and hobbies. This often helps create an emotional connection between the buyer and the seller.

Why are love letters problematic?

While love letters may seem harmless, they can encourage discrimination in home-buying. When sellers receive love letters, they may use the information in those letters to make decisions based on factors such as race, religion and family status. This can lead to unfair treatment of potential buyers who don’t fit the seller’s preferred profile.

Additionally, love letters can perpetuate stereotypes and reinforce biases. For example, a love letter that emphasizes the buyer’s occupation as a doctor may lead the seller to assume the buyer is wealthy and, therefore, more desirable. This can disadvantage buyers who may not have high-paying jobs but are otherwise qualified to purchase the home.

The legal Implications of buyers’ love letters 

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against potential buyers based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. This includes any communication between buyers and sellers that reveals information about these protected characteristics.

While love letters are not explicitly prohibited under the Fair Housing Act, using the information in these letters to make decisions about potential buyers can be considered discriminatory. 

Love letters from potential buyers may seem innocent, but they can potentially encourage discrimination in housing. Therefore, you’re better off using strategies that don’t give the seller more information than necessary.