Does it make a difference for a buyer to write and include a personal letter with an offer? I jokingly call them love letters, because they can ooze with emotion and sometimes be kinda cheesy.
Over the years, working with home buyers, I’ve been an advocate for the buyer writing a personal letter to the owner. One might wonder if this even makes a difference? I got my real estate license in 2005 and wrote my first offer on the house I’m living in today. During those days, buying a home was extremely competitive and the prices were going through the roof. A buyer had to do whatever they could to get an offer accepted. So, I too wrote a “letter from the heart” on my first deal as a licensed agent. It was flowery, heart-warming, and true – we loved the house (and still do!). The seller subsequently told us that this separated our offer from the others, especially the part where you said, “[your child] immediately ran into the back yard and jumped on the play structure.” Hmmm, I instantly learned, there’s something to this letter writing thing.
Subsequently, I’ve had many of the same experiences with other clients. Just recently I listed a home where we received 3 offers. One of them included a personal letter. To my surprise the seller said, “I know that this one is lower in price, and you might think we are crazy, but we just love this buyer’s story and want to go with that offer!”
Try this with an investment property and the owner may laugh out loud. I’ve actually had investor sellers tell me to not show them the personal letters because they didn’t want to be influences by their emotions. This statement nails it on the head… We are humans with emotions. Even though every seller wants the most money out of their sale, there is always the human element and emotions involved.
“What should I say in the letter?” is the next questions I get. While I enjoy writing, not everyone is as confident with their prose. Here are some suggestions.
- Make it short and to the point – most people don’t want to read several pages on your life and journey of buying a home. Several paragraphs get the job done.
- With that said, introduce yourself. Briefly say who you are and maybe something interesting that relates to the home. Example: We love the river and are so glad it’s in walking distance! OR, This home is close enough for me to bike to work – this is so relieving since I’ve been commuting by car for 8 years, an hour each way! OR, I’ve always loved trains and always wanted to live next to the railroad tracks [I kid you not, I actually heard someone say this!]
- You may even want to start by complimenting the owner in some way, without being heavy handed. Example: When we walked into the house, we immediately knew this was the one for us! Purple is our favorite color and we absolutely love the stenciled lettering above the bed, that reads, “YOU ARE AWESOME!” The deal was done when we saw the bidet in the bathroom – ahhh to be back in Paris again! Okay, I’m trying to be funny here and this is an example of heavy-handedness, but you get the point. When done appropriately, a little flattery goes a long way. How about this: We love your sense of style and can tell you really cared for this house.
- Briefly talk about how this house fits you. Do you have a family that you will raise here and enjoy it for years to come? Is your elderly mom going to live with you and the downstairs bedroom is perfect? Are you single, and this downtown loft is a “babe magnet?” [okay don’t say that].
- End with a “thank you“ for considering our offer. And, we look forward to a smooth transaction.
What else would you include or omit? Do you have success stories of your own, or maybe a reason why not to include a personal letter? Your stories and feedback are always welcome.
Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900