Oregon set to become the only state to ban the real estate 'love letters'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend realty group is suing the state over its pending "love letter" ban, which bans homebuyers from adding personalized letters to their offer.
It's a ban that Total Real Estate Group and Daniel Ortner believe is unconstitutional.
“Oregon’s law banning communications between buyers and sellers is a violation of the First Amendment,” said Ortner, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation who is representing the realty group.
This past summer, Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2550, which bans the use of communications outside the scope of a traditional offer. The law which goes into effect Jan. 1 makes Oregon the only state to ban the letters.
Total Real Estate Group filed the lawsuit last week against Oregon Real Estate Commissioner Steven Strode and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
According to Ortner, 20 brokers affiliated with the realty group use such letters on a regular basis.
“These letters are extremely valuable to both the buyer and the seller," Ortner said Wednesday. “There are a lot of institutional investors that want to buy houses to rent them out or to flip them, and a lot of sellers want to know that the buyer is going to live there and be part of the community."
Last year, the National Association of Realtors wrote, "While this may seem harmless, these letters can actually pose fair housing risks because they often contain personal information and reveal characteristics of the buyer, such as race, religion, or familial status, which could then be used, knowingly or through unconscious bias, as an unlawful basis for a seller’s decision to accept or reject an offer."
The bill was signed into law, but Ortner told NewsChannel 21 the Legislature could not present any evidence of discrimination based on the letters.
“There is no evidence that there is serious discrimination happening as a result of these love letters," Ortner said. "They are serving multiple purposes, so going and banning them is completely unjustified.”
Ortner and the Pacific Legal Foundation filed for a preliminary injunction, which he hopes will block the new state law from taking effect either before Jan. 1 or shortly after.