We love your home. Please pick us. We will take great care of the home into the future. Please.
Don’t write this letter!
I know who you are. You’ve looked at countless homes. Perhaps you’ve even submitted an offer, in your search, and lost to a more enticing bid.
Regardless, Desperately Weary Buyer, the perfect 3 bedroom HGTV worthy Cape Cod has just hit the market in Bellefonte in a ruthless, Centre County seller’s market. Along with this hot new property that just came through on your Zillow email alerts are other buyers, who are just as avid on hanging a tire swing in the front yard of their new home as you are.
How will you stand out?
Elaborating on a blog I wrote for our group page, ‘How to be Competitive in a Multiple Offer Situation’ (http://www.annetteyorks.com/be-more-competitive-in-a-multiple-offer-situation), Here are a few guidelines for formulating a letter to the seller, that could be the determining factor in selecting a winning bid when an owner can’t decipher among a bevy of buyers for their home.
Introduce Yourself – Get straight to the point, state your name(s) and tell the seller who you are. Remember, there may be other buyers or rumors of other offers coming in, so no time to waste.
My name is Sarah Boha…”
Tell Your Story – The point is to ‘pull their heartstrings’ so tell them what you do for a living and perhaps give an anecdote that will make them remember you. Also, state if this is your first time buying a home, if you’re downsizing or are new to the area.
“…and I’m a first time home buyer. I’m a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in State College with a very erratic and busy schedule. Most days I work from 6am to 10pm, weekends and whenever it is most convenient for my clients. I’ve seen thousands of homes in my professional career and when it came to selecting a home for myself, it was no easy task…”
What Brought You to the Seller’s Home? – Tell the seller about your home search. Has it been tedious? Time for catharsis. Let them know how found yourself making an offer on their home and why the home is the perfect choice for you.
“…With access to so many homes, it’s been easy to become intrigued with a variety of properties, however, nothing truly resonated as ‘home’ for me. When touring your property on 59 Horatio Street, I knew, from the open concept to the smartly appointed interior design, I had to make an offer. I knew I had finally found home…”
Tie it All Together – Circle back to something personal that ties in with why you’re buying a home. This can be a lead-in if you’re asking for seller assist in your offer.
“…As a single professional and, perhaps, a workaholic; I’ve made a lot of personal sacrifice, in order to meet my career goals. I’ve helped hundreds of families achieve their dream of owning a home…it is time for me to achieve my dream as well…”
If You’re Asking for Seller Assist or Contingencies – Time to plead your case. Seller assist is a great opportunity for buyers, however, it can make you less competitive if there are other offers in play. This is your time to tell the seller why you need help.
“…In order to achieve my dream of home ownership and as a single professional with one income, I will need some assistance…”
Closing – Seal the deal, thank the seller for their time and consideration of your offer.
“…Thank you for taking the time to consider my offer. I hope to call 59 Horatio Street my new home address soon!”
Consider the Perspective of the Author – If a letter is written from the perspective of the realtor, the realtor can serve as an advocate for the buyer, painting a picture and telling a story of the customers they’ve been serving. A letter directly from your Realtor can also add another level of credibility — this is a third party vouching on your behalf.
For my clients, I try to get to know them in the time that I show them homes and write a letter about them (unless they write one themselves…and even then I check their grammar). If you aren’t lucky enough to have a realtor who earned their Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology from a nationally accredited university (shameless plug), they can easily follow the aforementioned guidelines for writing a letter.
Here is an example of a letter I wrote for a couple on a home in Bellefonte. The letter inspired the seller to accept their offer and moved him to build custom cabinetry as a wedding gift to my buyers. (Names and address changed for the example)
“Claire Underwood and her fiancé Frank are first time home buyers. Claire is a full time school teacher and she is beyond excited to purchase her first home with her soon to be husband. I’ve toured many homes with the couple and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is by far the winner in their long search. When they took their first step through the threshold, they knew this was the home they had been searching for; they knew they had to make an offer. Claire and Frank can see the love and talent that the seller has contributed to the house and are blown away by his carpentry skills. They would love to have the opportunity to cherish his work and raise their future family within the beautiful craftsmanship of this home.
Being a full time school teacher, Claire and Frank are just starting out and they do need some assistance to make their dream of purchasing their first home come true. Claire and Frank want to make this work and are looking forward to your response.”
Keep it Short and Concise – I’m a fan of not being weighed down in the minutia. Give the seller a clear snapshot of who you are with clear anecdotes. It will help them reference who you are easily. For example, in a recent multiple offer situation, the listing agent reached out to me and asked, “Your offer is the family with four children who’ve been looking for a year and desperately need a home, right?”. The family, in this example, is closing on their home next week.
Don’t Oversell – Especially if you’re asking for seller assist or a lower price. Perhaps you have a great job at Penn State University, try to offset that by making yourself more personal.
Be Personal and Include the Seller – When depicting a hardship, i.e. death of a loved one, winning a fight with cancer, etc. always circle it back and tie it into why you’re purchasing the home and how the seller is included in your journey. Here is a real example of a client who is now enjoying their home (Name changed for the example),
“…She overcame her cancer and, inspired by her courageous fight, decided to earn her degree to become a nurse. After school, Anastasia moved to State College, PA and has achieved her dream of becoming a nurse.
She now wants to achieve her dream of owning a home…”
When a Letter Doesn’t Work
A letter is no guarantee that you’ll win the sweet, little Cape Cod in Bellefonte…but it certainly ups your chances. Here are a few factors and situations that are out of your control.
1. Cash Offers
2. Bank Owned Properties (Banks don’t have heartstrings)
3. When the Seller Knows the Buyer Personally or is a Relative of the Seller
4. Personal Prejudices
There have been many instances in my career where a letter set my clients apart in the eyes of a seller. The guidelines and tips listed above have proven successful for almost all of my clients. Again, it’s not a guarantee that it will make or break the deal, but it doesn’t hurt to try tugging on the emotional side of the person that holds the key to your ideal home.