Rhode Island Lawmaker Proposes Ban On Home Buyer "Love Letters" To Sellers

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PROVIDENCE, R.I., (WBZ NewsRadio) — Potential home buyers may soon be told to keep their passion to themselves if they are looking snag real estate in Rhode Island.

R.I. Representative Terri Cortvriend introduced a bill in March that, if passed, would block so-called buyer "love letters" from reaching home sellers, something that she said creates an unconscious bias in the decision-making process. The ban would require the seller's agent to reject any communication that's not documents related to a transaction, including any photographs.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe spoke to a couple of Ocean State realtors who are against the bill.

"People believe that the highest bid should get the property, but that's not necessarily working in the seller's best interest. For instance, if you were a person who just didn't need the money, but you wanted someone to take care of your house, information from a letter like that may be important to your decision," said Keller Williams Realty North R.I. Owner John Somyk.

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The R.I. Fair Housing Practices Act would also block any written or oral inquiries to sellers that concern characteristics like race, color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation among many.

Lincoln Remaxx Realtor Roxanne Beretta agrees with the proposed legislation that it would be inappropriate for a buyer to send photos of themselves or their family, but says letters can give first-time home buyers a better chance.

"There's a lot of investors buying, and there's a lot of people who aren't going to make that house a home. They're just buying it to flip it, or rent it out, and I think it's pushing out first-time home buyers especially out of the market. I think that a letter could enhance their offer," Beretta said.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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