Do Letters to Sellers Work?
In hot, competitive real estate markets and those in which inventory is constrained, buyers often wonder whether a personal letter to the seller will give them an advantage. The answer? Sometimes.
Few sellers would willingly leave money on the table, no matter who the buyer is. The real estate transaction is both financial and emotional, but when it comes time to sell, finance always trumps. Writing a letter to accompany a weak offer, then, is a waste of everyone’s time and won’t get you a “deal” on the home.
Given two similar offers in a strong market, can a personal letter from one of the buyers help get a foot in the door? Absolutely. If you’re a buyer and you find yourself in love with a home alongside three, five or 10 other buyers, a letter can help. But don’t simply dash one off without giving it some thought, or you’ll be wasting your time.
Use the right approach
Find out as much as you can about the sellers and their situation. Ask the listing agent why they are selling, how long they have been in the home and what their experience has been like there and in the selling process. Deciding to sell a home is a big decision and not one that happens overnight. Try to get inside the seller’s head to better understand whom you are working with.
If it’s a longtime family home, for example, the sale may mean a major life change and will bring up lots of emotions. The seller may be attached to the home and might be more interested in knowing more about the folks who will be taking over the helm. A buyer in San Francisco, for example, once wrote a very sappy letter to an elderly gentleman who had been in the home more than 60 years. His wife had recently died, and all of his kids had moved out and had families of their own. This buyer, a newlywed with his first child on the way, talked about “continuing the seller’s legacy” and assured him that he would take care of the very well-constructed work area the seller had built out in the basement. He got the house.
For the not-so-sappy or shorter-term sellers, try to make some sort of connection based on what the listing agent tells you or what you see in the home. Can you tell by walking through the home that you are dealing with fellow art lovers? Let them know. Have you figured out that you are from the same home state or worked at the same company? Let them know by opening up about yourself or your background in a personal letter.