You’re up against 11 offers; you’ve done all you can to make your offer clean and straightforward- waiving appraisals, purchasing in “as-is” condition, waiving your loan contingency, and you’re well over ask. What else is there, you ask? What can you do to stand out? While the jury amongst Realtors is out on this topic, we at the Neighborly feel a personal note or letter to the seller, when appropriate, can put your offer above the competition. Although there may be many letters to the seller in the competing offers, we are here to help break down what makes a good letter, what to include and what not to include.
- Write a formal letter. No, a simple email won’t cut it here. If you’re not sure how a formal letter is written, google it! You need a proper salutation, proper grammar, and proper structure. Take time on this; it could be the reason you get the house! Pro-tip: If you’re good with aesthetics, make your letter beautiful- font, color, etc. can stand out to your seller.
- Do some research. Take this for what it’s worth; what’s the first thing you think the seller might do with your name? Google it? Look it up on Instagram? Yes, these are public profiles, and sellers are out there looking to see who you are when they have so many offers, they don’t know what to do. What should you do with the seller’s info? A little recon to see what their aesthetic is, what might speak to them- pets? plants? You get the picture. Pro-tip: this is a little innocent search; let’s not get creepy.
- Make note of specific items you like in the home. Remember the letter is one part you, two parts them; say what you like about the seller’s home, what they have done, and what speaks to you. Pro tip: don’t say what you will do to the home or how you will remodel it- big turn off.
- Three paragraphs. I can’t stress this enough; three short sections is enough. Consider the seller is overwhelmed with offers and doesn’t know what to do- they can’t read your 18-page letter (front and back!). Make it brief, beautiful, and witty.
- Include a photo or image. This is where things get a little dicey. The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination of any kind in housing, and many in the industry feel this violates the Fair Housing Act; I completely get it and tend to agree. The solution? Pictures of pets, plants, your work if you’re an artist, your current home, a hand-drawn illustration from your kid? Get creative; again, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
A letter to the seller may only work with “owner-occupied” residences, as the sellers are typically sentimental about their homes. Investors rarely care or look at letters and may ask agents to withhold any that are received. Consider the circumstances of the sale before you decide to write a letter; your agent should be able to get some information for you before putting pen to paper.
Lastly, and this is me giving away all my secrets here, have your agent print out your offer packet and your letter, bind it and present it in person- this is not always possible, but can be very impactful. Our business has become so impersonal with all the virtual tours, e-signs and emails- put a little personality behind it, and you just might win the house.
Written by: Misha Renteria