A federal judge has scratched a state’s decision to ban real estate “love letters.”
Those are missives from potential buyers to sellers, extolling the virtues of giving them the opportunity to buy a property. They are personal, often very personal, messages and have been known to result in sales, sometimes even price breaks.
WND reported late last year when real estate brokers in Oregon filed a court case challenging the state’s ban.
The trend comes as home prices have surged nationwide and buyers are often left out of the market because of the prices. The love letters are an opportunity for a hopeful buyer to persuade a seller that her or her desire or need for the residence is special.
The state of Oregon early in 2021 adopted a law banning real estate brokers from transmitting “non-financial” communications, in a fear that such letters “might be used to discriminate in housing transactions.”
So the Pacific Legal Foundation, citing the lack of evidence of any such discrimination, brought a legal challenge on behalf of a boutique real estate firm with offices in Bend and Portland.
“Love letters are incredibly important for matching buyers and sellers,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Daniel Ortner. “Oregon cannot ban valuable speech because someone might use it to discriminate. Such a broad speech restriction is clearly not justified.”
Now a federal judge as granted a preliminary injunction allowing the messages.
“Today’s ruling preserves the opportunity of home-buyers to speak freely to sellers and make the case why their purchase offers should win out,” explained Ortner.
“Love letters communicate information that helps sellers select the best offer. The state cannot ban important speech because someone might misuse it. Oregon’s overly broad speech restriction is clearly not justified, and today’s decision is a major victory for free speech and economic opportunity.”
The legal team explained, “For Total Real Estate Group, the ban on love letters harms their ability to match potential homebuyers with their dream homes. The letters often prompt sales below the top monetary offer, creating opportunities for first-time homeowners and giving sellers peace of mind that their home ends up in caring hands.”
That corporation had asked the court to restore its right to freely facilitate communications.
Named as defendants are Steve Strode, the state real estate commissioner, and Ellen Rosenblum, the attorney general.
The filing charged, “Selling or buying a home is more than dollars and cents. Homeowners develop an intimate attachment to the homes where their lives have played out, watching children grow, nurturing relationships with neighbors, and experiencing the tragedies and triumphs of everyday life.
“Likewise, homebuyers look not just for the best deal, but also for a space they can call their own for years to come. Understandably, buyers and sellers often wish to express these personal feelings about the homes in which they have lived or hope to live. Buyers can do this by writing what real estate brokers call a ‘love letter,’ a personal note to a seller explaining why they love the home they are hoping to make their own,” the complaint said.
“Such letters might describe the buyer’s captivation with the view of the sunset out a living room window, their excitement about nearby hiking trails, or their plans for using a reading nook on the second floor. Sellers often find value in such letters because they want the home they have loved to continue to be loved and cared for in return. A seller also derives more pragmatic value from such letters because they indicate a buyer’s commitment to closing a deal,” it continues,
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