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Love Letter Landmines ❤️

April 30, 2021

Danielle Lazier Real Estate Newsletter: April 30, 2021

Hi friends,

Heartfelt appeal or potentially discriminatory legal liability?

When competition is hot for real estate listings, prospective buyers have limited options to make their offer stand out.

Price and terms usually win the day. You can bid up the price, offer in cash or increase your down payment, and waive contingencies on steps like inspections, loan approval and appraisals.

(Note: every situation is different. We will strategize with you for the optimal offer for the current market conditions and specific listing.) 

Real Estate Love Letters

In addition, buyers often include a "love letter" or letter of introduction with their offer, describing their situation and what they love about the home.

In fact, I wrote a blog post about this back in 2012 on the original SFhotlist.com, inspired by a Bonnie Raitt song.

Love letters have become par for the course here in San Francisco for at least 10 years now.

But buyers and sellers beware. These letters can be ethically problematic and potentially legally dangerous.

Buyer Letters and Implicit Bias

A family photo, or sharing personal information about who you are, where you are from, what you do for work, who you are or are not partered with, how the home "would be a great place to raise our kids," etc is an invitation for implicit bias — and a potential lawsuit for discrimination.

Given the long list of protected classes in California, which includes race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, familial status, source of income, disability, medical condition, citizenship, primary language, immigration status, military/veteran status, age, criminal history, and any arbitrary determination...

...is there any way to write a buyer letter that ISN'T problematic?

Here’s the deal.

These letters remain extremely commonplace. Listing agents will often ask your buyer agent to provide them. And, they are now discouraged by management and may eventually be disallowed.

Even without the letter, Sellers can easily find out who the Buyers are with a quick online search.

Sometimes the intentions are good. Sometimes they are not. Unfortunately, after 19 years in biz, I’ve heard a lot of very different perspectives from Sellers on to whom they want to sell their home.

Should You Include or Accept a Real Estate Love Letter?

At Danielle Lazier + Associates, we stand with marginalized communities and will stand up for fairness and equity at all times. The real estate industry has a role to play.

For Buyers, as a rule, the best way to win the home you want is to offer the most compelling price and cleanest terms. We’ll work with you to make sure your offer wins but is not over the top. You gotta “win to move in” but you don’t have to overly overpay if that makes sense!

And for Sellers, the best way to keep emotions — and legal liability — out of the equation is to consider offers solely on their price and terms.

As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any real estate-related questions. We are very happy (and grateful!) to help you and anyone you send our way!

Warmly,

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San Francisco Real Estate Update: News, Insights and Luxury Listings

Also featured in our April 30th, 2021 newsletter:

SF Chronicle: No, Californians aren't fleeing for Texas. They're moving to unsustainable suburbs

Financial Times: High-rises and high flyers: will luxury property lead a recovery in San Francisco? — (non-paywall version here)

CoinDesk: Bitcoiner Behind 20Mission Co-Living Space Tries Auctioning 75-Year San Francisco Lease as NFT

And recent blogs right here on daniellelazier.com:

The April 2021 Market Update for San Francisco real estate

Get Your Home in Selling Shape With Compass Concierge Services

Meditations on Home Organization: Ebb and Flow, a guest blog by professional organizer Sarah Grierson-Dale

Want to stay up to date on San Francisco real estate?

Sign up for the Danielle Lazier Real Estate newsletter for an info-packed update on San Francisco real estate, local insights and more, delivered twice a month to your inbox.

PS: We hate spam and love privacy as much as you do. We will never sell or share your information — period.

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