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Letters to the Editor: How banning ‘love letters’ in home sales could backfire

A home in El Dorado Hills, Calif., has a sale-pending sign outside on April 1.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I understand the idea that so-called love letters from prospective home buyers could lead a seller to discriminate, but I wouldn’t support banning them. (“You want the house, so you write the owner a love letter. But the practice is under fire,” column, Sept. 26)

If you strip away personalization in the most competitive real estate markets, wouldn’t it give the upper hand to investors or the wealthiest people who can afford to pay cash without any contingencies? A ban on love letters could put buyers of fewer means at an even greater disadvantage in a market that is largely out of reach for them already.

I’m a little dubious on that claim that the motivation for banning such communications is to save people from possible discrimination. Rather, it strikes me as another way for wealthy people and investors to drive up prices without any “bias.”

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Valerie Mejia, Carlsbad

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To the editor: Back in 2014, when I was selling my charming 1920s house on a prime street in Sherman Oaks, I was amazed that there were six offers on the first day. Four of those offers were above the asking price.

The following morning, I found on my front porch a huge basket of roses with a love letter enclosed. The writer rhapsodized about what I had done to the house. She went on to say that she couldn’t wait to celebrate Shabbat dinners in my dining room.

How did she know I was Jewish? Of course, the Mezuzah at the front door.

The roses and the letter turned me off, but the bid was $250,000 above the asking price, and all cash. This meant no inspection and a quick escrow.

Should the practice of writing love letters be banned? Yes, if it can be led to bias. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t deter me from selling to the highest bidder and opting for the easiest transaction.

I was distressed when my lovely home was torn down and replaced by a huge box. But it is the buyer who must live with the lie to get what she wanted.

Evelyn Bauer, Reseda

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To the editor: After 59 years in the real estate business, I am happy to be retired.

I recall an incident in a slow market when I was attempting to present an “offer to purchase” on a property that had been on the market for long period of time. I wanted to assure the owner of my client’s capability to perform. The potential buyer was a successful attorney and his wife came from a family with substantial resources.

The owner interrupted me, saying, “I don’t care about your buyer — I would sell my home to Adolf Hitler if I get my price.”

I told him I appreciated his opinion, but Hitler might not qualify for a loan. He replied, “Well, OK, tell me about your buyer.” The transaction closed.

Over the years, I was involved in more than 1,000 transactions. Now, it seems that any revelation about a purchaser’s ability to perform could become against the law.

Retirement is good.

Clay Wells, Newport Beach


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