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Bend real estate group sues state over pending ban on ‘love letters’ to homebuyers

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.

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.

Comments

35 Comments

  1. – wow – can’t legally redline any more, gotta do something to maintain the purity of the neighborhood – right?

    – they couldn’t prove that’s what we are doing so we’ll use that as an argument that we should be allowed to continue doing it – sound familiar?

    1. Uh; yeah… it’s critical to prove some kind of wrongdoing if the State is going to meddle in a private sale between two parties. Seems like a first amendment slam dunk (prior restraint anyone?).

      1. – where there is money to be made…. and here it comes… you are infringing on my right to maximize my profit so, until you can prove what i am doing i get to keep doing it – same argument from tobacco companies, petrochemical companies, pharmaceutical companies, and something the Trump family real estate business did for years,until all the “legal” dodging was cut through and it was “proven”(actual, demonstrable historical facts, sorry), but, by then the fortunes were all hidden away and the damage already done – now there’s a proud legacy to defend with all your self-righteous “infringing on my rights” indignation – carry on jeffd

        1. So Tio, would you support banding a seller’s present or any devise that the seller has in their home that might record buyers visit to the home before purchase?

          1. – no idea what you are on about – don’t know what you mean by “banding a seller’s present….”

            – this article is about ‘love letters’ in a residential real estate transaction, and you are aware of how this particular technique has been used to keep neighborhoods ‘”the right color” – where do you stand on such practices TS?

            1. Because the seller, who is not going to live there cares about the race of the person giving them cash for their property? You truly have a gift to turn anything into racism.

          1. – yes i do – also books, but you are a big boy, entirely capable – i know what i have read and the length i went to to vet it’s validity – you see, it is not “as i call them” – there is a measure of accountability beyond “something Tucker said”

    1. – until you poke your head out of your burrow and realize how many other places have made this illegal, and why – aren’t you the guy who made the impassioned denial of the existence of systemic racism and white privilege?

      1. Tio, quit being a Closet Racist. It is easy to identify a Closet Racist because they judge other peoples actions through their lenses of racist bias. A Closet Racist will see everyone else as a racist except themselves.

      2. It’s nothing more than a pick us suck up letter to the seller.When selling a house I really don’t think the owner is going to care what the buyer is going to do to the place after the papers are signed.

      3. Systemic racism and white privilege are Marxist terms. They don’t exit. They are just talking points from talking heads and socialists/communists pushing an agenda. Get over yourself. Carry on TioZo

        1. Fed Up….
          Systemic racism is a real thing has been going on for 100’s of years in America.
          White privilege is proven by your lack of historical facts and running your mouth like you are slightly more important than anyone reading your post.
          My guess is you have struggled with economic opportunity and have a chip on your shoulder from perceived “others” doing better than you and being a lower level achievement.

  2. “outside the scope of a traditional offer.” Let’s just redefine Traditional Offer.

    I will be having a home go up for sale in the next month and anything the seller wants to send through the appropriate channels or a conference call is fine by me. Call them ‘love letters’ or hey I met the neighbors & they seem great. I believe I can set my own boundaries and don’t need the state to dictate communication.
    Some sellers might leave a little on the table to help out the buyer in certain situations. This house is in the path of sewers and will need to be connected down the road. I may be inclined to create a sewer escrow account to be used when the connection is needed and less out of pocket expense for the new buyer when it comes through.
    Do I sell for 675 to local renting family of 4 looking for a home in the same elementary school area and put 25K in escrow or sell to Blackstone for 660??? or other investor group & become an Air B&B. The extra note would help make a decision. I’d be selling to the family and the neighbors remain happy!
    Oregon really pushes the limits when it comes to our freedoms. It’s sad that taxpayer money is wasted on legislative and Bureaucratic attempts at controlling the people.

    1. Exactly, it is of no concern to the state who we sell to or for what reason. What if we are selling by owner? Making the sale ourselves. Are we still not allowed to communicate with the perspective buyers? Who I sell my home to is my business and the state has no business dictating anything other than code.

      1. Thank you for the backup. I was kind of waiting for a response rather than replying to my own post.

        One of the neighbors has a friend that would like to move from CA and is interested in potential purchase. Another has local co-workers looking to purchase and we’re all in the same $ zone. As a Native Oregonian Paleface, it is my choice who I would sell to. We may not have to list with an agent.

    2. Well said. I know first hand accounts of people who sold their homes for less than the highest offer. Sometimes that was to help a young family purchase their first home, others did it to help another neighbor settle his elderly parent nearby so they could help care for them.

      The state has absolutely no business filtering communications between private parties. This is limiting free speech under the guise of the “discrimination boogieman”.

      It does nothing but further the interests of wealthy and corporate real estate investors.

  3. Brown makes the rules and we need to vote this clown out of office. It’s our country and the government represents us, the citizens that vote them in. So governor Clown has nothing better to do than sign a bill for this?? How much more messed up does it need to get?

    1. She’s not up for re-election. Her term is over in 22. I heard that the Mayor of Sandy, Oregon will be running as a Republican. I heard an interview with him and he will likely get my vote. We should vote out every Dumocrat in office.

      1. I will never be sorry for correctly labeling you and the rest of Cult45 as fascist domestic terrorists who support the violent overthrow of our Government because you lost a free and fair election, because you advocate for thousands/millions of people getting sick or dying rather than wearing a mask or getting a vaccine, working for the downfall of America at every turn when you lose, advocating for gun violence and then blaming someone else when it comes to fruition, and just generally having no class or sense of taste. You all will be the downfall of civilization.

  4. This is nothing more than censorship. The state is limiting private parties access to information relevant to a private business transaction.

    Ironically the result will be that in the absence of other information the highest bid will most likely prevail – meaning the wealthy retain the upper hand.

    Here they go yet again, paving the road to hell with good intentions.

  5. House Bill 2550 goes beyond “love Letters”, this bill will be interrupted by aggressive civil rights lawyers to extend to any interaction between seller and buyer as illegal. If a seller is present or has a devise that would record a buyer’s visit to seller’s home before purchase this new law would will make these interaction buyer the seller or their agent illegal. Seller and buyer agents need to beware.

  6. Sounds like an answer looking for a problem. Until the state can legally prove its side of the issue and that there even is an issue, drop this from the books.

  7. Prior to signing a listing contract simply add to it that you want to meet in person with the prospective buyers. If your agent balks, fire him/her and get another. There are ove 1,000 agents in this town.

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