We can’t talk about the American experience of prosperity in the decades after World War II, without recognizing the prosperous impact of homeownership. And to that, we are wise to acknowledge segregation eliminated the opportunity for black Americans to prosper as the white Americans who were not living next door. The mood is right in the world today to raise our understanding of the eternal consequences of our actions. Merriam-Webster (the dictionary people) just took a giant step in changing racism’s discourse by modifying their definition of racism to include systemic oppression. When an institution is trusted, respected, and looked to as reference turns how they define racism into thorough recognition of consequences, we are on our way to a more excellent dialogue.
The strength of definitions is their inflexibility. No one benefits from words meaning one thing under one administration and another under the next. Over time everything we believe is put to the test in the streets, in the classroom, and courts. The concept of racism was more or less understood and accepted in 1968 to be this but not that. It’s natural that given any boundaries, humans will work around the edges to push the limits and breach the walls until the definition of a word is no longer suitable because now what is openly racist is shaded by slight nuances.
Examples of Begging Love Letters to Home Sellers
Twice in my career, love letters to home sellers became the go-to idea Realtors turned to as a way to give some of their buyer clients an edge in competitive markets. Today we are seeing home sellers request letters be included with Offers to help the seller select the people who will be the right fit for the neighborhood. Some people need to know more than how favorable the price and terms to show a person’s commitment to getting safely to closing. And if that need to know includes what they believe (Christmas=Christian, Family=male dad, female mom, at least one child, and a pet, higher education=better fit, etc.), the decision to negotiate has everything to do with discriminatory factors.
The intent may not be crystal clear.
Every person who wrote a letter to appeal to the sensitivity of a home seller did not intend to violate Fair Housing laws. Every Realtor who encouraged and helped clients write letters, or helped home sellers select the lucky buyer based on the buyer’s messages and photos is not racist. But every note and every chosen picture included for the seller to consider has an intent. And it is that intent a licensee may get the opportunity to prove or defend when they facilitate a decision to negotiate with this buyer but not that buyer on factors that are unfavorable to a protected class.
It’s Not Always Easy to See
A Google search took me to this page of Dear Seller Letters. I’m not going to say what I think is easy to see. Read the letters and decide for yourself if the letters play into the systemically oppressive attitudes that have forever kept black and other minority Americans from owning homes they are well qualified, prepared, and committed to owning.