In the last few years, it’s become more common for buyers to write a compelling letter to a home seller considering their offer. Writing a “love letter” to a home seller sounds easy enough, but it’s important that buyers don’t give away too much or come on too strong. Below are insights you can use as you craft a perfect letter to a home seller in today’s market.
DO present a confident case.
The easiest way to write a love letter to a seller is to replicate the template you might use with a professional cover letter. Keep it to three paragraphs, and follow this format: one paragraph about yourself, one paragraph about why the house is perfect for you and your family and a strong closing statement.
DON’T be cocky.
While you may end a professional cover letter with a strong sign-off about finalizing the process soon, you won’t want to be presumptuous in this letter. End with a strong but humble appeal for the seller to consider you as they review any competing offers.
DO tap into their emotions.
Part of being a homeowner is making lasting memories in a place you call your own, so it’s okay to share a few emotional reasons you like the seller’s home. For example, if buying their home will allow your kids to attend the same school you did 20 years ago, that’s a great anecdote to share.
DON’T go overboard.
It’s important not to seem too attached to the house, as sellers may use this as leverage to get a higher offer or to play hardball after a flawed inspection. For example, a homeowner may refuse to fix a failing furnace or a sagging roof if they know you’ve already picked out the paint colors for your nursery. Your agent will help you craft a letter that strikes the right balance between excitement and desperation.
DO talk about your future in the home.
Be sure to mention future plans, like how you look forward to teaching your kids to shoot hoops in the driveway or starting each Sunday morning with a lap around nearby Lake Nokomis. Your goal is to appeal to the homeowner, who has likely enjoyed their home and its surrounding amenities for years.
DON’T talk about future renovation plans.
Most sellers inherently understand that you won’t use the home in the exact way they did, but others may be sensitive about proposed changes. Be sure not to mention that you’ll be knocking down walls to get the open floor plan you’ve always wanted, or that you plan to turn the downstairs family room into an epic mancave with a year-round kegerator.
DO play up your commonalities.
If you noticed you have something in common with the seller as you toured their home, your letter is the best time to mention a shared interest.
DON’T pretend you’re best friends.
Remember that you’re still a stranger to the seller. Try to keep mentions of your similarities short, and preferably related to the house. Rather than talking about how you both love kayaking, say that you are happy to see the garage already has his and hers kayak storage for you to use.
DO use the letter to bolster a strong offer.
Your letter should be the final addition to an already solid offer. Talk with your agent to determine how much you should bid, or if there are other ways to boost your offer in addition to the letter. Here are eight ways for buyers to make their best offer.
DON’T use the letter to take the place of a strong offer.
Seller letters became popular after buyers were competing over a shortage of homes for sale – a phenomenon still occurring in most markets across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Don’t make the mistake of entering a low bid on a home that has multiple offers. Even the most perfect letter won’t make up for thousands of dollars lost at the closing table.
One final “DO”
Most importantly, DO write a love letter to the home seller. A recent survey showed that 43 percent of winning offers are accompanied with a seller cover letter, meaning that they have become an expectation instead of a “nice-to-have” for many sellers. Together with your agent, you can write a letter that strikes the right chord between eager and overzealous, and that puts you in a great position for negotiating even as you march toward the closing table. Good luck!
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