REALTOR® magazine recently published an article discussing the pros and cons of a buyer including a personal letter to the seller with the offer. This is an interesting topic that does not hold an absolute right answer.
In the beginning years of my real estate career I was representing a veteran trying to purchase his first home. It was a very hot “sellers” market and my buyer was in the midst of a bidding war and we knew it was going to be tough. He was getting VA financing and knew he was competing with cash offers and other offers with a larger down payment (he was a true $0 down buyer). Knowing his offer may not be the most attractive to the seller, we brainstormed various strategies.
In our discussions I recommended to my buyer to consider writing a personal letter to the seller.
I told him it was important for it to be in his own words and factual. He liked the idea and wrote the letter the same day we submitted the offer. In the letter my buyer discussed his military service and his excitement in buying his FIRST home. He made a point to show excitement with the property and understanding the seller had a difficult decision to make with multiple offers. He thanked the seller for his time and signed off. Guess what? It worked. I was ecstatic when the listing agent called to let me know his seller accepted my client’s offer. He disclosed there were eight offers on the table with a couple cash investor offers that were above my clients offer. The seller told his agent he wanted to go with my buyer’s offer because he was a veteran and first time buyer. (How awesome is that?) This was a great win for my client and a lesson for me.
Over the years, I have had several other clients write letters to sellers with success. I have had some clients write multiple letters on different properties and still lose out to a higher/better offer.
It does not always work and I think it is important to discuss the pros and cons with a buyer. I have sellers who did not want to read any of the letters written. They only wanted to discuss the terms of the contracts and make a decision based off the numbers.
Some sellers are put off by the personal touch. On the other hand, I have had sellers who were adamant the home not be sold to investors or second home buyers. Generally speaking if it is a bank owned property or an investor property, I am not convinced a letter will help the buyer.
Definitely on the list of worries is to make sure the letter does not violate any fair housing laws or put the seller in a position where they may possibly violate these laws. I recommend it come from a place of sincerity and keep it factual. With social media, many sellers can investigate a buyer on the internet and find out more information than the letter presents. (Be careful what you post on social media). Discussing financial strengths, employment track record can be important facts to bring up in your letter. DO NOT ask us as agents to write your letter. We will go to bat for you but if you decide to include the letter, make it original. We can give you pointers or suggestions to assist you and help you decide if you even want to write a letter to accompany the offer.
There are a lot of challenges buyers have in the current Flagstaff real estate market. Increasing prices and competition from other buyers can be difficult to overcome.
What are your thoughts? Have you had success/failure in writing a personal letter to attach to an offer? Send us an email and let us know.