Homebuyers trying to stand out from
a crowd of offers in today’s competitive market are often told to write a
personal letter to accompany their offer. Buyers who are financing a home, or
have a smaller down payment, often have trouble competing with all-cash buyers.
Appealing to the seller as a person, as opposed to a contract, can sometimes
give a buyer an emotional edge.
The higher the stakes, the more our emotions can come into play when negotiating – and for most of us, buying or selling a home can be the biggest financial transaction of our life. People are prone to incorporate "subjective value” in negotiations, all the stuff that doesn’t center on cold hard dollars and cents.
While a home buyer and seller probably won't interact again, accepting the initial offer isn’t the end of the deal. You’ve still got the inspection and the back and forth to get to the close. On some level a love letter can signal to a seller that the buyer is someone they think they'll be able to work with through the closing process.
How to write a home buyer letter:
1) Flatter First
This is an emotional pitch. You’re attempting to tell the seller, "I’m such a good person that you should ignore the numbers.” They need to like you. Tell the seller how great their taste in color is, how much you’d love to have their lifestyle, and what an amazing neon bottle cap exhibit they have over the fireplace. Lay it on thick, but keep it sincere. You’re selling, but you don’t want them to feel like they’re being sold a used car.
2) Get To The Point
You may have 10 great ideas that you’d like to tell the seller. They will only remember two. The seller may have 10 other letters to read. If you mix in your best points with your lesser points, they may all just become a jumble.
Pick two or three
reasons why you will be the best buyer for this home, and make them distinctly
recognizable. The more streamlined you make your message, the more memorable it
3) Paint A Picture
People remember what they’ve read at a far higher rate when they can see a picture of it in their head. "I really love this neighborhood because I’ve lived here and gone to school here,” doesn’t resonate.
On the other hand,
"I spend half of my time walking the cobblestone streets around this block,
dropping my daughter off at Gilman School and volunteering at Schnitzelfest
every summer,” will trigger a visual memory for a seller. Think "I’d be
so happy in the summer to be cooking Neapolitan pizza for friends and neighbors
in your outdoor wood-fired oven”.
4) Don’t Remodel The House
Planning on adding a second story or changing the landscaping? Don’t mention it. You might be correct that the seller’s sewing room would make a great workout room for you, but this isn’t the time.
If you’re going to
expand to create more bedrooms, you might be changing the seller’s favorite
eyebrow windows in the roofline. They may have buried their dog under the tree
you’re planning to pave over. he sellers may have awful taste, but
homeowners are very protective of their homes.
5) Show Stability
Present yourself as a stable buyer who will have no problem closing the purchase. Whether that is a reference to your lack of contingencies, stellar employment record, or commitment to moving in as soon as the sellers are comfortable, ease the sellers’ fears of a shaky transaction
6) Show Humility
At the same time, be humble and ask for the sellers’ blessing on your offer. "We would be so honored to live in your home,” goes much further than "We are confident that you will accept our generous offer.” The ball is in their court, and your letter should acknowledge that.
7) Don’t Whine
The emotion of your letter must be upbeat and high. It needs to make the seller feel good. Everyone wants to play with a winner.
The seller doesn’t
care how many other homes you’ve lost out on. They don’t care that your rent
just doubled. They don’t want to know about your wife’s sad condition
that requires you to have a home like this. They just feel uncomfortable
now. In fact, they’re already tossing your offer in the round file as
they finish this paragraph.
8) Close With Clarity
Remember the five-point paragraphs and five-paragraph themes you had to write in school? While those formulas are too long and rigid for this letter, their closing advice should be noted. Your excitement, motivation, and ability should be reiterated at the end of your letter in a quick recap. Remember that the sellers could be reading a few letters. Make sure that the closing of your letter reminds them of your best qualities and reinforces them.
9) Sign with Appreciation
The feeling your sellers will leave with can live or die on the signature line: "Sincerely”, "Cordially”, "Best Regards”, and "Yours Truly” do not apply. This is not a business correspondence of equals. Thank the sellers for spending their valuable evening reading the ode that you wrote about your unworthy self.
"Thank you so much
for your time,” "Thank you for the opportunity,” "Your consideration is
greatly appreciated,” or even "We are honored to have the opportunity,” will
leave the seller understanding that you value their time and are grateful for
10) Spell Check. Grammar Check. Buddy Check.
Do It Again.
There is an unbelievable amount of weight that some sellers will put on the preciseness of the letter. Right or wrong, the buyer’s personality will be judged from their attention to detail, ability to follow-through, and level of care in the letter. Buyer reliability is often gleaned from how well the rules of grammar are followed. If grammar isn’t your thing, find someone whose thing it is.
Actual Examples of Home Buying "Love" Letters
I had a chance to look at your lovely home last week with my Father and feel that it could make a great home for our family. I am an only child so I call my Labradoodle and two Siamese cats, my brothers. I am looking foward to my cousins visiting Madison because it is much closer than the 13-17 hour drive for them to Denver. My Grandpa and Grandma are only 3 hours away so they will be able to come see me play in golf tournaments, basketball games, and stay for short weekends.
I have attached a photo of my family below. I hope we can make your home, our new home, in what I am learning is a wonderful place to live.
Dear E & A,
Thank you so much for allowing us to view your lovely home! We are relocating to the Madison area for a new work opportunity. Among the many concerns of making a move like this was finding a house that we love in a great neighborhood. When we saw your home, that concern disappeared. It was obvious that the house had been taken care of.
The neighborhood will be wonderful for our young daughter who is three years old, and son, who is six months old. We love the layout and the size works well for us. We can see ourselves enjoying quality family time together there.
We hope that you will consider our offer for your home and
give us the opportunity to love and care for it as well as youhave. We pray God's continued blessings on you and your family.
Thank you for your consideration!
Thank you for allowing our family to tour your former home
on Homewood this weekend. This is the
first home we visited, and we were so impressed with it that we asked to
return for a second look at the end of the day.
We are extremely excited at the possibility of making this our
first family home.
After over four years of apartment living, we are hopeful
that we will soon have a home to call our own.
We are both originally from Wisconsin, and recently moved back from
North Carolina after we had our first child.
Kyle is a high school math teacher and football coach, and Katie is a
pediatric physical therapist. Our
daughter will be turning two years old in December, and we recently found out that she
will be a big sister in the summer! We
also have a chocolate lab, Griffey, who would love to be able to run and play in
his own back yard.
We are attracted to this home in particular, because it is
not one of the typical "cookie cutter” homes that are becoming more popular in large cities. The design of the house, amount of living and
outdoor space, quiet cul-de-sac, and proximity to our current childcare and work locations make
this the perfect place to settle down.
We were happy to find that this home is move-in ready, and does not need any
significant updates in the near future – there is actually very little we intend to change!
We would love to make this our home for decades to come.
Thank you again for the opportunity to visit your lovely home.