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A Letter to the Seller - Fair Housing Violations

If you've ever been in the process to buy or sell a home in the Hudson Valley (or anywhere else in the world), you've probably come across the situation of a buyer wanting to submit a letter to the homeowners to help strengthen their offer. I would say roughly 50% of my buyer clients ask me if it's an option during the process, to which I always have to explain the following: Letters written by buyers to homeowners to plead their case often expose themselves to a fair housing violation.

What is a fair housing violation? Well, on the federal level and on the state level, there are several protected classes, which means discriminating against someone because of one of these classes is illegal.

On a federal level, the following classes are protected by law:

  • Race

  • Color

  • National origin

  • Religion

  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)

  • Disability (physical or mental)

  • Age (40 and older)

  • Citizenship status

  • Genetic information

In addition, New York state law prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race

  • Color

  • National origin

  • Religion

  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)

  • Disability (physical or mental)

  • Age (18 and older)

  • Genetic characteristics

  • Marital status

  • Familial status (being pregnant, caring for a child under 18, or seeking to adopt a child under 18)

  • Sexual orientation (includes perceived sexual orientation)

  • Gender identity

  • Lawful use of any product or lawful recreational activities when not at work

  • Military status or service

  • Observance of Sabbath

  • Political activities

  • Use of service dog

  • Prior arrests or criminal accusation

  • Prior convictions (unless certain requirements have been met)

  • Domestic violence victim status

So, how does that play into writing a letter to a seller to help strengthen your case? Well, if you mention any of these in that letter, and the seller decides to pursue your offer or decline it because of the letter, that's a fair housing violation. They have either discriminated for or against you based on a protected class. For example, saying something as simple as, "My husband and I love this house and our daughter, Mia, couldn't stop smiling as we walked through today" has 3 notable protected classes in it: Martial Status, Familial Status and Sexual Orientation. That's just in one sentence.

Writing a love letter to the seller opens you, your realtor, the sellers, and their realtor up to too many potential violations that in the end it just isn't worth it. In my opinion, a seller shouldn't be using anything other than the offers on the table in front of them to make a decision.

I hope this helps clear any questions up you may have, and if you have any questions, or if you are looking to buy in the Hudson Valley area, or sell your Hudson Valley home, you know who to hit up!!

Thanks for listening,

Anthony Ruperto

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

The Ally Team at J Philip Real Estate

522 N State Road, Suite 100,

Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510

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