Many of you have been warned that we are in a “seller’s market”. With low-interest rates and record low homes on the market for sale, this is indeed more often the case than not. While this poses some hurdles, people are indeed still successfully buying homes. Sellers often enjoy the best price, little stipulations, and a timeline that works for them. If you’re not having a lot of luck coming out as the winning offer while attempting to provide what you can of these, perhaps a letter to the seller may just help!
We’ve had clients benefit from this approach many times. In fact, in mid-2020, due to one young couple’s touching letter to the seller, they beat out 18 other offers on the table on a single-family home in Reading, MA. The kicker — they weren’t even the top price! From what we understand, these buyers were about $30,000 lower than the best price. While sellers do care about price, many also care about who they are selling to and the type of buyers they are about to work with on a sale. We do not have great statistics on this (we will collect), but we have primary evidence that it does help to write a comforting and honest note to the sellers.
Think of this as an interview you have coming up and you are sending a brief cover note about yourself. It’s an opportunity to stand out! The note does not have to be lengthy, anywhere from 5–12 sentences more than suffices. What’s more important is the content of the note.
If you decide to write a note to the seller, we believe 3 areas of thought are important to consider:
#1 Tell them why you love the home so much
Whether recently renovated or owned by the same family for twenty years, a current homeowner often enjoys hearing about features or amenities that you appreciate in their home. Some may have an emotional attachment by way of having raised a family there or having the home passed down through family generations. To this seller, it is very important for them to understand who is buying their home and what their intentions may be. Pay close attention to the special features the home offers. What appeals to you about the neighborhood? Why does it stand out to you?
#2 Tell them a bit about yourself (and your partner) and your employment situation
Remember this is your opportunity to stand out from the other bidders, raw numbers, and contractual language on an offer. Simply describe yourself and perhaps your partner. Feel free to explain hobbies or interests you have that make the home more applicable to you and your needs. Also, writing briefly about what you do to earn an income helps the seller give further faith to your pre-approval and your financial viability as a buyer. You definitely should not talk about compensation, but talking about your field of study or focus and your type of position in that space helps. If you feel comfortable, you can also include a picture of yourself.
#3 Thank them
This one is simple, and puts a nice bow on the note.
A love letter to the seller [Example]
Below is one example which works well. It describes the buyers and their genuine interest in the home very well.
Dear owners of the sweet, single white Medford house with so much charm,
My name is ______, and my husband ______ and I have been trying to find a neighborhood for years and have fallen in love with yours. We moved to Boston in 2011 and we would love to be able to own a house. We think it’s the perfect place to raise a family. We’re a very respectful couple with a lovely dog and are looking for a little more space.
We love to spend time at home and have friends over. The kitchen has such great counter space — I can just picture it holding our big Sunday dinner buffet. And, we enjoy spending time on the porch. Of course, the first thing we noticed was your beautiful tree in the backyard. We could tell how carefully you have tended to every aspect of your home. Your home is in our price range and we had to take a chance on an offer because it is everything we want and is in a great neighborhood for our family.
I am a dietitian and work as a Research Coordinator at Mass General Hospital in Charlestown and my husband is an engineer and does research in robotics at Harvard University. We already have mortgage pre-approval and are flexible about the date for closing on the house. We so much want this to work out well for you, as well as for our family.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. We would be honored to live in the house that you’ve made into a beautiful home. We look forward to hearing back from you.
_______ & _______
While writing a note to the seller is not required, we’ve found it certainly can help. You may consider including one as part of your offer in competitive bid situations where you may want to stand out.