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Johnnycan415, Home Owner in San Francisco County,...

Can business letters pose as personal letters?

Asked by Johnnycan415, San Francisco County, CA Tue Nov 9, 2010

Our property address was incorrectly identified as distressed. One week we suddenly received lots of mail for the owner of the true distressed property. This mail (which we did not open and have marked return to sender) looked peculiar, as the addressor used his first initial and last name, first name and last initial, was handwritten, on a typewriter, in red ink, yet all had the same return address. I looked up the address and name and found it was a realtor. This is obviously a business solicitation in the garb of a personal letter. Is this legal, or just shady?

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J. Mario Preza, CRB, CDPE’s answer
The question about the types of correspondence that comes through the mail is interesting, but it may be a bit of a stretch for a Realtor to answer, particularly when you're asking about legality. Realtors, for the most part, are not attorneys, and, to boot, they're not experts on U.S. Postal regulations. Having said that, the question about practices in the marketing world, you would probably see these activities by an imaginative Realtor as mild compared to some of the more aggressive tactics used by major mailing houses, you know, those hocking magazines by telling you you've won a million dollars; or those that pose as U.S. Government mail to have the unsuspecting consumer open the piece, etc. Now here's a slogan that reminisces what the intent of our relationship ought to be, taken from another industry to promote their services... "...the best business calls are personal..." (AT&T). Probably not the answer you might have wanted, but in business you'll see all kinds of imaginative ways to reach out and touch someone, particularly when there is a blaring sign at the county courthouse saying, not in so many words, I NEED HELP, I'm about to lose my house!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 11, 2010
BEST ANSWER
Hi Johnny,

There is nothing illegal about that.

However, when a realtor or anyone solicits a homeowner who (May) be in distress they should always say the information is not accurate or has not been verified!!

I agree, this a close to a shady way of solicitation. A lot of (business people) send scary letters to home owners who they found either on Foreclosure.radar or realty trac. However some soliciters send info that is inaccurate. I work with homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure and they have told me they will get all kinds of letters from realtors they will even have realtors knock on their door and tell them their home can be sold under their feet whent that is not true !

If you were you I would send a letter back to whomever is sending that to you and tell them their info is inaccurate ask them to not contact you and if they continue complain to their broker or real estate board they belong to.

We have protection from Debt collectors (FDCPA) a debt collector can not send a Post card or any evidence that the person they are soliciting is being contacted by a debt collector, basically they cant give info to a 3rd party. However, when some of these realtors and investors send postcards that say to the work your home is in foreclosure I believe that should be illegal. It is obviously unprofessional!!! If we all complain about the tactics that are being used maybe then there will be change.

Best of Luck,

JoAnna Jensen
Legal Assistant - Realtor
Volo Law Group
925 699 5041
jensenair@hotmail.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 10, 2010
Joanna is right. There is nothing illegal about this.

As a professional real estate investor, I frequently send letters to distressed properties off of foreclosure NOI lists that we compile. I have found that a hand addressed letter is more likely to be opened by the owner as many "form" or "bank legal" looking letters get tossed by the owner.

I do send postcards as well, but I don't send "scary letters", our marketing just offers the owner a way out of their situation. Sometimes cash, sometimes take over payments, sometimes short sales to the bank, it all varies. It's not "unprofessional", in fact we offer a buying situation to the owner. It's not surprising that some Realtors would like our marketing to be illegal, but I'm not going to tout that Realtor marketing and direct mail be illegal, even though in a lot of cases we do compete for the same customer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 10, 2010
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